What are we working on this week? Roadmaps, Tow Trucks and love bombs

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

At the Knight-Mozilla Open News sprint in NYC

Mozilla Webmaker weekly update for Feb 14, 2012

Getting practical on webmakers

This post from Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman ties together the various roadmaps and blog posts now underway, tying them back to our overall goals for the year.

Next steps: getting our roadmaps added to the main Mozilla roadmap wiki.  Plus better participation in the weekly Mozilla All Hands updates.

Mozilla events menu and strategy

Michelle Thorne continues to test and simplify her event menu, working with Ben Simon on how we can create a scalable, self-organized model for events to take over the world. More on Mozilla Webmaker events:

Tow Truck Demo

Simon Wex presented an outstanding demo of “Tow Truck,” an educational HTML/CSS/JavaScript collaborative editor. Check out the prototype screencast. It kinda reminded us of the “hack battle” prototype from November’s Mozilla Festival, which shows Mozilla X-Ray Goggle hacks as movies.

Knight-Mozilla OpenNews news

@OpenNews is now the default Twitter account for the Knight-Mozilla Open News project.

The “Webmaking 101 for Journalists” sprint this week in NYC was a big success. Read all about it in Jess Klein’s week-in-review blog post. Plus more detail here, here and here. The Open News team wants to sponsor journalism hack days with YOU — so let us know what you’re up to here.

Mozilla Popcorn roadmap,  heatmap and upcoming fireside chat

How can Mozilla Popcorn serve as a starting point for deeper webmaking skills? The Popcorn team is looking for feedback on these user stories.

Bobby Richter is also looking for feedback on the developer “heat map” he developed to see where work load falls with each new release of Popcorn. The Popcorn team is also planning a special online fireside chat later this month to discuss their user stories and roadmap  — look for a date and details on that soon.

Mozilla Hive Toronto Pop-up on Saturday

  • Got kids in Toronto? Want them to learn how to hack? Sign them up free here.
  • If you can come and volunteer (even for a few hours), please sign up as a volunteer
  • If you’re coming as a volunteer, please bring a laptop and flipcam or digital camera. On an ongoing basis, we’ll need access to laptops that we can use for more of these Mozilla events. Let us know as a comment here if you have suggestions.

Software Carpentry in 90 seconds

Software Carpentry‘s mission: help scientists be more productive by teaching them basic computing skills. The project is looking for help and ideas in three key areas:

  • 1) Volunteer developers to model their work. We’d like to screencast developers’ desktop as they code and work, so learners can see what they do.
  • 2) What happens after the workshops? Where do participants land after the intro workshop? This is a common challenge across our projects — see Greg’s proposal in this “Stack Underflow” post.
  • 3) Evaluation. How do we demonstrate impact? We need a way to make a case in terms that a prof or lab director relates to.

Africa Open Days

Africa Open Days is an event designed to help in explaining, encouraging and promoting the use of open source tools. It’s the first of its kind in Africa. Check out the wiki and get involved here.

Love bomb blitz

It’s Valentine’s Day. Why not take a moment to send a love bomb to someone you love?

Upcoming events


This Valentine’s Day, drop a love bomb on someone you love

February 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Here at Mozilla, we like to drop “love bombs” on our favorite friends and colleagues. To reward great work and show we care.

The good folks at the Mozilla Hackasaurus team have taken it a giant step further. As part of their ongoing mission to make webmaking fun and easy for the planet, they’ve created this lovely “Love Bomb Builder” protototype. Making and sending hand-crafted love bombs has never been simpler! (See Jess Klein’s “On Inspiration and Lovebombs.”)

How does it work?

Simple! Choose a template, say a little about who and why the love bomb is for, then fire away! Your mom, dogwalker or special someone can click on the link you send them for a lovely digital token of your affection — lovingly handcrafted in HTML and CSS. I got one from my wife the other day, and it made me blush.

WARNING: Love Bomb Builder is an early prototype and still a little rough around the edges. May prematurely detonate. May cause blushing and/or spontaneous emotional combustion. No webmakers were harmed in the creation of said love bombs.

Some samples of what your customizable love bomb can look like:

  • Atul’s love bomb to Tim Berners Lee for creating the world wide web.
  • A fist bump for Vint Cerf for thinkin’ up the whole “open Internet” thing.
  • A wrestler mask for Madonna. Cuz she’d look great in one!

So what are you waiting for? Go make one now and send it your geekiest Valentine!

SOPA and “The Great Firewall of America:” what it is and how to kill it

January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

This will be remembered as the day the web went dark. Today, Mozilla is joining other public interest organizations, everyday internet users around the world, and tech companies from Wikipedia to Reddit to Google.

Together we’re going on “virtual strike” to shine a light on proposed censorship legislation that could effectively create a “Great Firewall of America.”

And we need your voice to help stop it.

What’s going on?

The U.S. Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

This legislation, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and its companion legislation in the US House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would give the US government and private business incredible  global censorship powers, damage the Internet’s security, and discourage  innovation and investment worldwide.

Learn more:

Take action:

There’s a week left until Senators return to Washington from their districts, when their vote is scheduled on the PROTECT IP Act. We need to make one last big push by contacting their local offices and asking them not to support PIPA.

If you’re in the U.S.:

If you’re outside the U.S.:

Other ways to get involved

Mozilla FAQ on SOPA

What’s this about?
The U.S. Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

What’s at risk?
These new laws would give the US government and private business incredible  global censorship powers, damage the Internet’s security and discourage  innovation and investment worldwide.

The result?
Your favorite websites, both inside and outside the US, could be blocked based on a single infringement claim, without any due process of law.

How is it done?
The  US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search  traffic.

What about piracy?
Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity, or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet.

What is Mozilla doing exactly?
We’ll be redirecting our main mozilla.org and mozilla.com English web sites to an action page for 12 hours on Wednesday, January 18th (8:00 am – 8:00 pm US Eastern Time). Also, the Firefox default start page will be blacked out so 100% of en-US visitors will see our call to action. Usage of Firefox is not limited or effected.

Why not a full blackout?
We hope the blackout of our US sites will educate people about this important issue. Mozilla believes that the individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional. Access to the latest and most secure version of Firefox ensures user security. Thus some of the site functionality will stay in place during the blackout.

How long have you been involved in anti SOPA activities?
Mozilla has been actively involved in the stop SOPA activities from the start with our first public facing activities rallying for support in November.

Why does this matter to Mozilla?
The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. These new laws would give the US government and private business incredible censorship powers that would have effects globally, damage the Internet’s security and discourage innovation and investment worldwide.

Is this just a matter for Americans to care about?
The laws will have effects globally, damaging the Internet’s security and discouraging innovation and investment in web technology worldwide. As it is a proposed US law, our call to action focuses on US citizens, asking them to reach out to their representatives.

Who owns “you” online?

January 13, 2012 § 6 Comments

There’s a battle going on for your online soul. 2012 will be a year where the good guys take some important steps forward in that battle.

Mitchell Baker and Ben Adidas posts on online identity and what Mozilla is doing to empower users are important reading for anyone who cares about where the web is headed.

As Mitchell notes, all of us are now creating and sharing more and more of our personal data online. This opens exciting possibilities, but also serious questions: How do you protect and empower yourself in the cloud? Who can you trust? And who ultimately owns the online version of “you?”

Who makes the rules? The architecture of “you”

You are valuable. Your online data, decisions and content are worth something to yourself and others. As thinkers like Ben Cerveny have pointed out, each of us leaves a trail behind us as we travel through the “luminous bath” that is the web. This data says something about you, leaving a set of footprints others can potentially follow. Your data is unique, and it has value.

So who makes the rules around how your data gets used? As Mitchell writes:

The ability of big data and cloud service providers to monitor, log, store, use, correlate and sell information about who we are and what we do has huge implications for society and for individuals.

Right now there’s no convenient way for me to share information about myself and maintain control over that information. I share information about myself by putting it someplace where someone else makes all the rules.

This is bigger than just Google and Facebook. The question of “who makes the rules” is a more fundamental question about the architecture of user data and the Internet itself.

This architecture boils down to some fundamental design questions about how your data is shared. Do you decide, setting the rules once, then pushing them out across your online experience? Or are you instead subject to a confusing mishmash of different rules for your data, each set by whatever application or service you happen to be using at the time?

Putting you at the center

Mozilla believes you need to be at the center of your online experience, with the option to store your data in the cloud and then set the rules for how it it accessed across the web. This means you get to set the rules, instead of other sites deciding for you. Mitchell writes:

To really help people with the way we use and share data today, Mozilla will need to offer people the choice of storing data in the cloud in a way that allows services to access it with your permission. This will be a new thing for Mozilla. It will involve new challenges.  It’s important that we take these on and address them well. If we develop an offering that handles user data in the cloud properly we will help ensure choice and user sovereignty in new areas of online life.

Identity that answers to no one but you

Concretely, as Ben Adidad explains, this means Mozilla will ramp up work on a host of “user-centric” (I think of them as “you-centric”) services this year, including an innovative approach to identity, a mobile web-based operating system, and an app store. As a non-profit answerable only to you, we’re in a unique position to take this on, without ulterior motives or fine print. Mitchell writes:

No other organization has both the ability to do something totally focused on user sovereignty rather than financial profit, and the ability to have wide impact. A Mozilla presence in the cloud will allow us to to fulfill our mission in important new areas of online life.

The web you deserve

A web that recognizes “you,” knows who you are, and can respond accordingly is an exciting thing — so long as you’re the one in control of the experience.

That requires a trusted, ideally non-profit broker to help you manage your identity and set the rules for your data — with no ulterior motives or fine print.

This is different than the “bait and switch” model that now seems common in the cloud, luring us in with shiny services and products, only to reveal hidden costs, nasty fine print, or a cavalier approach to our personal data down the road.

The web — and you — deserve better. I’m excited that Mozilla is leading that charge in 2012.

IE6 is dead, Firefox lives, and Mozilla is (still) awesome

December 20, 2011 § 9 Comments

Reports of Firefox’s death were greatly exaggerated.

For the last several weeks, we’ve seen a stream of speculative hype and forecasts of doom from many in the tech press. But today, all that’s been put to rest — like we always knew it would be:

And we’re just getting started

As Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs points out, Mozilla is growing, leading, and doubling down on its non-profit mission in crucial new ways: working to create a web literate planet, building a generation of web makers, breaking commercial choke-holds through our vision for apps, setting mobile free, putting people in charge of their online identity, and pushing the web forward.

A nice triple for the open web

As Ryan Merkley pointed out, this week marks an interesting triple play for the open web:

1) Internet Explorer 6, the browser that once threatened to break the internet, is now officially slated for extinction.

Even Microsoft now concedes on its IE6 countdown site that there’s just no place for a non-standards compliant browser:

“…in an era of modern web standards, it’s time to say goodbye.”

Firefox created that era. We’re all now living in the open, standards-based and competitive world Mozilla fought to create.

2) Firefox 9 — the most awesome Firefox yet — just shipped today.

3) And the Mozilla Google deal is done, providing an important revenue stream to continue and expand our non-profit mission for years to come.

It’s a good day to be a Mozillian.

Mozilla web makers round-up: Popcorn wins, Hive buzzes, youth hack

December 14, 2011 § 7 Comments

Our new focus on moving people from using the web to making the web is generating a ton of promising new software, demos, learning resources and activity.

This post is the first in a new weekly series of round-ups that try to summarize that action, created together during our weekly Mozilla Web Maker calls.

The best of these items will feed into a new monthly “Mozilla Web Maker” newsletter. Please sign up here if you’d like to receive it.

Mozilla Popcorn named one of Top Web Developer Tools of 2011

ReadWriteWeb named Popcorn, Mozilla’s HTML5 toolkit for supercharging web video, one of its most promising web developer tools of 2011. “The future of Web media looks good.”

Help shape Hive NYC’s 2012 goals (hint: world domination)

Mozilla Hive NYC is a New York-based learning lab for Mozilla learning and education projects, helping youth acquire digital skills as they make and learn with Mozilla. Chris Lawrence writes about Hive NYC’s goals for 2012, and is seeking your input on how the organization can expand and grow.

Hive NYC is also working on a “how to” toolkit for creating a Hive-style learning network in your city, or a one-off “pop-up” style event similar to the “Hive London” event at last month’s Mozilla Festival.

Check out this fantastic video on Hackasaurus

Hack jams for youth, by youth

The Mozilla Hackasaurus team is training youth to help run hack jams for other youth, building on their recently-released Hacktivity Kit. Check out Jess Klein’s blog posts, and don’t miss these two stellar videos from youth:


Shakespeare goes social: Mozilla Popcorn in the classroom

Mozilla Popcorn supercharges web video, and the implications for learning and education are huge. Community member Kate Hudson’s terrific new demo shows what happens when you mash up social video and Shakespeare to create a powerful new teaching tool. The story got picked up by opensource.com.

Web making  and community building

Alina Mierlus writes about building the Mozilla community in Barcelona by bringing Mozilla’s web maker ethos to new groups:

Two years ago, Mozilla started to explore new ways to advance its mission, grow and rejuvenate the community, diversify our interest domains, and expand focus (go beyond Firefox).

Now, with programs and tools such as Hackasaurus and Popcorn that are getting stronger, and the work on Identity and Apps Ecosystem, there’s a huge opportunity to  build new community (both local and global), inspire others, and promote a new way of working and building relationships.

Stay in touch

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