What I Love about Mozilla

I've been pretty involved with Mozilla recently and, between my last internship and the MozSummit this weekend, some thoughts started to crystallize on what it is that I like the most about it. Keep in mind, these words only shape my impression.

When I mention Mozilla to people, they usually think "ah, Firefox!". While Firefox is our most popular project right now, there is so much more to Mozilla than just that, which is why I'm writing this.

It all starts with our mission, which, as Mitchell explained at the Summit, can be reduced to three basic principles:

  1. The Web should be open: The Web is a public source of information that must be open to and accessible to anybody around the world.

  2. The Web should be interoperable: People should not be locked in to an ecosystem and they should be able to use the technology they prefer to access the Web.

  3. The Web should be ours: People should have the ability to shape the Web experience and be able to contribute with content without requiring permission from a central entity.

There's nothing here about JavaScript performance, app startup time, scrolling smoothness or other buzz words and, while these things are definitely not ignored, it shows that Mozilla has different priorities.

Every time I see a demo or read about a new project that is being worked on, I'm impressed to see how people are pursuing standardization and keeping user choice into perspective at all times. This again shows that we are not in some sort of feature race, trying to distinguish ourselves through features that others don't have. If you've been paying attention to the principles, you'll know that this is actually unthinkable - the Web should be interoperable, remember?

The mission is what drives the community. I think we have the greatest community out there - developers, designers, testers, reps and others, all working together to make sure that (again, paraphrasing Mitchell) the Web is what the world needs it to be. Unlike other projects, where the surrounding community has a small supporting role, Mozilla as we know it would not be possible without its army of volunteers.

Besides Firefox, we are working on other projects that make the Web more accessible and drive it forward. Firefox OS and Webmaker come to mind. Firefox OS helps bring the Web closer to people who don't currently have a smartphone. At the same time it helps push Web technologies forward by providing the same support that developers currently have on closed, proprietary platforms through native apps. Webmaker is about shaping our Web - it enables people to contribute with their own content to the Web.

Having the mission, the awesome volunteers and the community-facing projects, Mozilla is different. It is special. It's something that many did not think was possible. Not long ago, it was assumed that free, open software would never reach a relevant market share. Firefox did that and it was the driving factor in making it so that today we have other options than just Internet Explorer in browsing the Web. Our community shows that a group of people that is spread all over across the world can still do great work together. Firefox OS is pushing the Web forward, closer to the increasingly popular mobile devices. All these and more developed in the open by passionate people. What's not to love?!

Later edit: replaced "Internet" with "Web" to avoid confusion.
Photo from here.

Mihnea Dobrescu-Balaur

Building @Hootsuite Analytics. Interested in Open Source, programming languages and the Open Web. Big fan of basketball and photography. Tweet @mihneadb.

Bucharest, Romania

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