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Hanging with the Mozilla Italia crew

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Florence, Italy to meet up with the Mozilla Italia crew. I was there to spend some quality time with them, but also to give them a hand for this year’s Terrafutura sustainable development fair, where they had an exhibition booth.

I was really proud to see Mozilla participating at Terrafutura which is unlike most geek-events we participate in that it’s a non-technical event for everyone and anyone social justice, sustainability, equality and making sure our kids and grand kids live in a healthier, cleaner and more just world.

Of the thousands of visitors who stopped by the Mozilla booth (many of whom are Firefox users), many were surprised to see us there and quite frankly didn’t understand, at first, what Mozilla was doing there. It was heart-warming to see the expression of surprise on their faces slowly morph into one of delight, after we explained to them that Mozilla is a public-benefit organization supported by an army of passionate volunteers committed to making the Internet experience better for everyone. Our raison d’être is to advance the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto. I’m confident that many, if not most of those visitors we spoke to came home to their families at night to tell them what Mozilla Firefox was much more than a web browser. But it was also another reminder that we, the Mozilla community, need to communicate much more and better our mission and why we do what we do.

One way is to participate at more events like Terrafutura. If you know of any in your town or in your country, please do drop me a line, and I’ll make sure Mozilla is present there one way or another.

I’d like to thank Mozilla Italia for being such great hosts, and as always, reminding me how lucky I am to be working with such smart, talented individuals who are so passionate about the Open Web.

On the final day of Terrafutura, I shot a few short video interviews of some members of the Mozilla Italia team, and I asked each one to briefly introduce themselves and share some quick thoughts on the future and what Mozilla could improve or do differently.

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Mozilla at Maker Faire Africa 2010

As I’m writing this, Mozillians extraordinaire Raymond Etornam and Kwamena Appiah-Kubi from Ghana are writing code across the table from me, on a breezy night here in Nairobi. I thought that they’d be ready to call it a night after a grueling flight from Ghana. But no, they’re hacking away well into the night, working on a new JetPack. If that is not passion, i don’t know what is.

We’re in Kenya this week representing Mozilla for the second edition of Maker Faire Africa. MFA is a large two-day event celebrating African ingenuity, innovation and invention, gathering inventors, makers and entrepreneurs from the four corners of the country. Alex Wafula, Nairobi-based Mozilla student rep will be joining us for the event, flanking Ray, Kwame and myself during the different Mozilla workshops we’ll be leading.

mfa_logo_2010MFA is a unique opportunity for Mozilla to reach out to Africans from all ages and from all backgrounds, all driven by a passion to invent and innovate. We hope we’ll spur a lot of interest in the Mozilla Project and recruit lots of new contributors from a region of the world brimming with ingenuity and talent, but where Mozilla has, until now, been relatively absent.

Things kick off tomorrow at 10am, so stay tuned for photos and video clips of what promises to be a seminal event.

Visit The Website : here

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Cologne Community Meetup 2010

koeln_stairsI had the pleasure of attending the second Cologne Community Meetup last weekend. Two years after the first meetup (almost to the day!) Eighteen active Mozilla contributors from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg converged in the beautiful city of Cologne (home of the famous Kölner Dom, of this year’s Gay Games and of course, of Summerjam!), to meet, share, present, brainstorm, discuss and agree on a common roadmap for the next 6 months.

The format of the meetup was very similar to the one used in previous regional meetups, where Mozillians began by giving a thorough update and presentation of particular projects they were involved with, namely Firefox, Thunderbird, SUMO, ScreenReader, Sunbird, SeaMonkey, and MDN. This was followed by discussion and debate over challenges and opportunities into the early evening, leading to a 3-hour goal-setting process (pioneered by my colleague Seth Bindernagel) the following morning. While we’re continuously fine-tuning it, I think we have found a regional community meetup format that is highly productive, with just the right balance of presentations, discussion, and interactive brainstorm.

For the goal-setting process, the 18 contributors broke up randomly into 3 smaller teams, each tasked to brainstorm and come up with 5 top goals for the next 6 months, based on the presentations and discussions of the previous day. Then, each team had to present to the group the goals they had identified and then everyone agreed on a final list of 5 goals.

Here are the goals the group came up with (in order of importance/urgency):

Goal 1mozilla.de (incl. Logo design): setting up the official community hub for german speaking Mozillians was identified as the single most pressing project that needed everyone’s attention and involvement.
Goal 2 – Community-driven PR: making a concerted effort to identify local PR opportunities and to assist Mozillians to be the “local” voice of Mozilla at the city/regional level, coordinating closely with the Mozilla PR team
Goal 3 – Overview of open tasks: with resources stretched thin, a thorough overview of open tasks needs to be conducted and priorities made based on overall 6 month goals
Goal 4 – Calendar/Overview of dates (Events/String-Freezes/Releases): setting up a detailed and regularly updated calendar of Mozilla events/releases/string-freezes etc…
Goal 5 – Regular regional meetings (regional events): leveraging the power of community to organize meetups, conferences, events at the local/regional level and supported by Mozilla Europe

For a more detailed review of the meetup, make sure to check out Kairo’s notes of day 1 and day 2 as well as Robert B’s recap here.For a more detailed review of the meetup, make sure to check out Kairo’s notes of day 1 and day 2 as well as Robert B’s recap here.

And of course, a beautiful set of photos can be found here.

Special thanks to Thomas Lendo and to Hagen Halbach for organizing such a productive, fun and high-quality event. You guys make it look so easy! 🙂

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Notes from my week in Thailand (or Why meeting in person matters)

Yesterday, I got an email from Wichai “Cheng” Termwuttipreecha, a lead Mozilla contributor from Thailand and based in Bangkok, informing me that the Thai localization crew had just about finished localizing Firefox 4. This is awesome news. I want to stress this not only because it’s an important milestone – only a few weeks ago, localization efforts were lagging behind and it looked far from certain that Fx 4 would be shipping in Thai – but because it comes after some very productive and insightful team-building meetups I was fortunate to help lead during my week in Bangkok.

Cheng’s email landed in my inbox just as I was getting ready to write a little summary of my recent trip to South East Asia, where I flew to Bangkok late October to meet up with my colleagues Gen and Dietrich to participate in Barcamp Bangkok 2010. It was surely SE Asia’s largest Barcamp this year, gathering more than 1,200 techies from more than 20 countries for 2 days of geeking out, learning and sharing.

This BarCamp was by far the most memorable one I’ve participated in, not so much for its sheer size and scope but for the incredibly eclectic mix of developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, journalists, web enthusiasts I met there. More than anything though, this BarCamp reminded me (or dare I say, made it blatantly clear to me!) of one thing: face-time and real-life interaction makes a world of difference when it comes to engaging with existing and potential Mozilla contributors. The talks we gave with Gen and Dietrich (ranging from an intro to WebGL and how to build your first JetPack, to community-building efforts in Europe) attracted a lot of Barcampers and were very well received. By the end of the event, no fewer than a dozen people signed up to join the existing Mozilla Thai community and start contributing. Some focused on localizing MDC in Thailand, others started creating JetPack tutorials in Thai, while others worked on bug triaging.

Building on the momentum gained, we organized several meetups that same week with local Mozilla contributors to discuss the current state of the Thai community, key challenges the community faces, ways to strengthen and build the community and finally, to identify key goals to achieve for the next 6 months. With 15% Firefox market share, there’s still a lot of work to do.

The 4 top priorities identified were:

  • localizing Firefox 4
  • empowering contributors, defining clearer roles and responsibilities
  • finalize the design of the Thai community portal and go live
  • preparing a community marketing plan in preparation for the launch of Firefox 4

By the end of the third and final meetup that week, the community had successfully defined a thorough roadmap for the next two quarters.

Item number one was to get Firefox 4 localized by mid-November. Status? DONE. (see the first paragraph of this blog post.)

The rest of the roadmap looks like this (see google doc in Thai here):

Mid to end of November: hold a community meeting to discuss and agree on new organizational structure whereby clear roles and responsibilities are attributed to contributors.

End of November to end of December: hold a meeting to define and agree on the final structure/design/content of the community portal and produce content. Ideally, the community website will go live at the end of the year.

Early December to late January: produce a clear action plan for community marketing activities around the launch of Firefox 4 (ie. plan for several launch parties across the city, and a nationwide community marketing campaign online)

So yes, a very productive week indeed and the community-made huge progress on many different fronts in very little time. Of course, that is not to say no progress would have been made had we not met that week, but what is that we got the ball rolling faster and in a clearer direction. I think this serves as a great case-study which, I hope, Mozilla communities can use and find inspiration from. I think the main takeaways from working one week with the Thai community are three-fold:

  • identifying key priorities and then setting clear goals against each one of them helps everyone get more visibility on their respective tasks and makes everyone feel more comfortable taking ownership of them
  • defining a realistic roadmap puts everything into perspective, helps everyone plan ahead and work more effectively towards specific deadlines
  • spending time to meet and discuss in person helps strengthen the bond between contributors, creates trust and has a real galvanizing effect

I really want to put extra emphasis on this last point: meeting in personal matters. Yes, it sounds obvious, but I think it’s something we all too easily forget or brush aside at Mozilla, as we sit hunched over our computer chatting away on IM or IRC. Of course, it’s not always easy to meet (especially when living hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart) but if the opportunity does arise, then you should jump on it. That extra effort to meet and work together will go a long way… My job at Mozilla, among other things, is to help facilitate these meetups and encourage Mozillians to work more closely (and productively!) together. If you are thinking of organizing a local Mozilla meetup in your town or region, shoot me an email and I’ll be more than happy to help any way I can.

——-

Special shout-outs:

  • Huge thanks to Cheng for being such a great host and for helping with all the logistics in Bangkok and a huge thanks to all who participated in the meetups. Also, many thanks to Patipat “Keng” Susumpow (Mozilla Thailand’s community lead) for the lengthy Skype follow-up calls to catch up. Such a shame you couldn’t join us that week.
  • a very big hat tip to Viking Karwur (Mozilla Indonesia) for being such an amazing host in Jakarta and many thanks to the whole PestaBlogger crew! My stay was way too short (and so was my talk!) but so happy to have met you all and to have experienced my first PestaBlogger 🙂 Can’t wait to be back and continue where we left off!
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FOSDEM 2011

Grey skies, drizzle, freezing temperatures, dark afternoons…

Yes, you guessed it: FOSDEM is around the corner!!

Thousands of FLOSS users and developers from all over Europe will converge in Brussels on February 5 and 6, 2011, for the 11th Free and Open Source Developer Meeting.

fosdem_2011

As every year, Mozilla will have its own DevRoom where Mozilla awesomeness will be showcased, discussed, shared and of course hacked during two full days. And like every year, we’ll have a large booth manned by Mozilla staff and volunteers, where FOSDEMers will be able to talk to Mozillians, learn how to contribute to the Mozilla project and of course, walk away with some fresh Mozilla swag.

The big novelty this year, or rather, the big change from previous years is that Mozilla Europe will only be sponsoring travel and accommodation for Mozilla DevRoom speakers and will not be sponsoring Mozilla contributors. As Tristan explains in his blog, this decision comes as we prepare a plan and prepare for the next Mozilla Camp Europe 2011 (date to be confirmed) and future contributor events in 2011. This change in sponsorship policy aims at a couple of things:

– to de-emphasize FOSDEM as a Mozilla contributor meetup and focus more on the event as a unique opportunity for people from other projects to sit in the Mozilla DevRoom to learn more about Mozilla.

– to encourage Mozillians who make the trip to Brussels (and we strongly encourage all Mozillians to make the trip) to spend more time learning and sharing in other DevRooms.

– to allocate more resources for Mozilla Camp Europe 2011 to be able to sponsor more Mozilla contributors to attend the camp and to make it the “premiere” Mozilla contributor event in Europe (NB: I’ll be blogging about it soon)

The official wiki has just been created and will be updated daily until the insanity begins in Brussels. Everyone interested in giving a talk in the DevRoom this year is strongly encouraged to submit a proposal to Brian King, veteran Mozillian and lead schedule architect this year (thanks Brian!!). Please submit your talk proposal to him by Friday, 15th January 2011 at brian at mozdev dot org.

As always, if you have any questions, please ask away! 🙂

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Introducing Mozilla’s Contributor Engagement Team

Happy New Year to everyone (better late than never!).

What better way to start 2011 than to make a big and important announcement. Indeed, my good friend and colleague Mary Colvig announced on her blog the creation of a new Contributor Engagement team at Mozilla, which she will lead, and which I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of. Here is Mary’s note, on behalf of the entire team:

“We wanted to share some updates on how we’re hoping to continue to be more effective and grow as a global community in 2011. As we discussed at the Summit and All Hands, one of the ways we’re looking to do this is by building stronger relationships across the project. For example, focusing on over 400 million end-users and creating new, meaningful ways for people to become Mozilla stakeholders and participants. We’ve been working towards this goal with the formation of a User Engagement team led by Jane Finette and our upcoming Join Us program http://commonspace.wordpress.com/20…. And at the same time, we’ve been building out our Developer Engagement team led by Stormy Peters that aims to connect with web developers to support and promote the adoption of open web standards through the Mozilla Developer Network https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US…. As we touched on at the All Hands in December, we’ve also formed a new Contributor Engagement group that will focus on further empowering and supporting Mozillians – individuals that passionately support, champion and contribute to the Mozilla project. The new team includes David Boswell, Mary Colvig, Gen Kanai, Amie Tyrrel and William Quiviger.

Building relationships with the community will still be something we all participate in, but our specific focus is:

  • Make it easier for us to find and communicate with each other.
  • Provide new opportunities and “on-ramps” for participation.
  • Work across teams (both expertise and regions) to help bring even more people into the Mozilla community and foster them.
  • Create and update shared resources to make contributing to Mozilla even better.
  • And more!”

 

Community is the backbone of the Mozilla Project and it’s incredibly humbling to be part of this community and work to support and strengthen it. We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still so much to do, so many opportunities and challenges on the horizon. I encourage everyone interested in the Mozilla project in one way or the other to share your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and questions here.

2011, here we come!

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Join the Europe, Middle East and Africa contributor town hall meeting next week!

I announced in my previous blog post the creation of a new contributor engagement team at Mozilla, which I am proudly a part of, that aims to improve the way we engage with and support Mozilla contributors.

We are scheduling a series of ‘town hall meetings’, informal interactive meetings to share and gather as much feedback as we can from the contributor community. This meeting will be a conference call and IRC chat (like the bi-weekly community call) to discuss contribution at Mozilla — what you enjoy about it, what could be improved, what tools you could use to make it easier to contribute to Mozilla, updates + happenings with Mozilla and so on. To start, we’d like to give an overview of the new team, share some very early 2011 plans and most importantly, get some feedback.

If you are a Mozilla contributor in Europe, the Middle East of Africa and would like to join this call, we have selected 2 possible days and different time slots for each day next week (Feb 8th or Feb 9th). Please check the poll below and select the time slots that work best for you.

PLEASE MAKE SURE TO SELECT YOUR TIME ZONE CAREFULLY BEFORE SELECTING ANY POSSIBLE TIMES/DATES

https://kingz4d.com

I’ll publish the time slot that works best and will share the dial-in info on this blog as well as share it through various Mozilla community mailing lists and IRC channels. Please keep an eye out for those details.

As always, if you have any questions about this town hall meeting or anything for that matter, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me by email at William at Mozilla dot com. Looking forward to our chat next week!

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ReMo ~ Feedback wanted!

remo

As mentioned last week, central to making ReMo a success is gathering as many ideas and as much feedback as we can throughout the design and implementation process. To that end, in addition to blogging regularly about the program, Pierros and I will be holding bi-weekly IRC meetings in #remo on irc.mozilla.org, to give a general status update on ReMo, discuss ways we can improve it and answer any questions people may have.

ReMo is of course a global program, so we want to be global in scope with these meetings. Starting next Thursday, we’ll hold three meetings every other week at the following times to make sure as many people as possible can participate:

  • Asia and Pacific: Thursday at 10:00 AM UTC (first one on Thursday 3 March)
  • Europe, Middle East, and Africa: Thursday at 6:00 PM UTC (first one on Thursday 3 March)
  • North America and Latin America: Thursday at 12:00 AM UTC (next one on Thursday 3 March)

We’ll be holding our first meeting next week so please make sure to spread the word and join the conversation!

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