jeudi 22 février 2007.
The following sentence is mentioning a few interesting concepts:
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.
Mozilla is global, just like the Internet. Of course. But while the official language for the project is English, it's a bit too easy to forget that it's truly a global effort. Developers come from around the world, regardless of their country of origin. Localization (translation) of our products and our website is currently done in more than 40 languages. This is to be constantly reminded so that we don't forget it, even if all contributors read and write English.
Mozilla is a community. I know it sounds obvious for those who contribute. We're a group of people above all. Not a company. But for the people outside the group, this needs to be reminded.
Openness and innovation are key to the continued health of the Internet. This is also central. The Internet, if we don't take care of it, will not reach its full potential. For this, it has to remain open and innovative. This may sound like hot air for people who are new to the Internet, so I may have to explain this a bit. The Web has been invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee while he was working at CERN, a European Research Center where scientists came to work, each bringing their own computers. But one major issue there was that most of them were incompatible with each other, making information sharing a major pain (actually, for researchers, not being to share their findings was a major hurdle in their daily work). Then Tim Berners-Lee has invented the Web in order to address this issue, and all computers, provided that they implemented Web standards (the HTML language, the HTTP protocol and the URL notation) and the TCP/IP network protocol, could publish and display documents, even if the computers were not of the same brand and did not use the same operating systems. The "islands of informations" could easily be connected and knowledge accessed. This was the initial promise of the Web: access information whatever the kind or brand of computer you use. Fast forward to 1995 : Netscape is offering a simple, graphical, easy-to-use Web browser to millions of people. Microsoft, afraid of this Internet thing which threatens its Windows business – who needs Windows if you can access the Web with any kind of Operating System? – decides to "cut off Netscape's oxygen supply" by shipping its Internet Explorer Web browser with every copy of Windows, which has a monopoly. In a few years of time, Netscape is dying because nobody needs its browser anymore, as an equivalent is available for free with Windows, which is bundled with every new PC. Netscape had been competing against each other, and aggressively innovating to differentiate. Now that Microsoft has the monopoly on Web browsers, there is no more innovation. In 1999, Internet Explorer 5.5 (IE 5.5) is shipping. In 2001, IE6 is released, which brings very little improvement over IE 5.5. Soon after this, Microsoft disbands the IE development team. Meanwhile, all Web authors start limiting their work to IE, which has a monopoly. The situation then is a total paradox:
Web authors now make all of their content for a specific browser, which is not actively improved anymore. That browser is tied to a single Operating System, Windows. When we remember that the Web was created in order get rid of Operating Systems incompatibilities, the whole situation really sounds crazy. In the beginning of the 2000's, there was indeed a dark cloud over the Web: no more innovation, no more openness, and serious doubts over the future health of the Web.
Since I'll be away, comments are closed on my blog. But readers and Mozilla contributors are invited to discuss the Mozilla Manifesto on the Mozilla.Governance mailing list / newsgroup.