OSCON Report – Mozilla Reps, Mayors, Community and Change

Prologue

The Mozilla Reps Council submitted a talk early on when the CFP was announced. The talk, titled ‘How To Multiply Your Community By A Factor Of X‘ seemed like a perfect fit for the Community track. The goal was two-fold, to get the word out about what we are doing in the Reps program, and to learn from other open source communities. Some last-minute shuffling meant that only one member of the Reps Council (myself) could go, but luckily we have a great Rep locally in Portland (Benjamin Kerensa) who jumped in to co-present with me. Our slides are at htmlpad.org/remo-oscon-2012/. I took some pictures, check out the set on Flickr.

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On Startup Culture

I admit to being skeptical before about startup culture in the technology sector, for a few reasons:

  • It smells of a gold-rush, a way to make a quick buck. I was brought up with an ethic to go and do your day’s work, work hard, get paid, and play your part.
  • This is inter-twined with rush to commercialise the Internet. This is not new, but it is eroding into the idealism of the early days of the Web when it was supposed to be the great equaliser in society, the open information platform.
  • To scale, you really need to get investment, which means compromising and handing over rights to your business and ideas.
  • I’m a software engineer, and solve problems presented by others. I don’t see myself as an ideas person, or at least don’t have the urge to act on ones I do have.

To make an analogy, startups to me are like young footballers who dream of playing for Manchester United or AC Milan or Real Madrid. Or indeed, even to play professional football at any level. How many make it? I don’t know, but I’d say less than 1%. I suspect the number of startups who are successful comes in at around the same percentage.

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Hack the Browser, London Style

Calling all software developers in the UK and Ireland. If you are interested in the Web, an event not to miss is the upcoming Mozilla Add-ons Workshop in London. It is an evening event scheduled for 6:30pm -10:30pm on 30 June.

We’ll be talking about extending Firefox, the latest and upcoming happenings on the Mozilla Add-ons site, as well as the great Web technologies packed into modern browsers – HTML5 and more.

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Extensions and Business

Image via Wikipedia

Fred Wilson recently asked: Can You Build A Business on Browser Extensions?

Alex Iskold tries to respond: Can Browser Add-ons Be Business?

Well, this question has been answered a long time, as companies have been building extensions for Firefox for years, and the Mozilla Suite before that. Yet as mentioned in both articles, the extensions are supplementary to a broader range of services that a company offers, or one of many entry points into those services. Indeed, this is the case with many of my clients, where there is typically a Firefox extension and an IE plugin, interfacing with functionality available on the web site. The multiple pieces are not dependent on each other. There are some flagship products built exclusively as an extension to drive the company. Two examples that come to mind are Foxmarks and Allpeers.

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