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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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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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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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