Published on January 27, 2009
Lessons from Mozilla John Lilly, CEO January 27, 2009 Heise Open Source Meets Business
The talk I was supposed to give: How to Bring an Open Source Application Into the Mainstream
But there are some problems with the premise: 1. every project is different 2. context really, really matters 3. lots of strategies are not “open” or “closed”
There are lots of examples of wonderful open source successes : ...but no clear models for how to get there.
So instead: Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009
Warning!! Your Mileage May Vary
First, some context... about:Mozilla
about:Mozilla 1. a global, open source project 2. a community of thousands of creators 3. a mission-oriented organization 4. a public beneﬁt company and subs 5. the maker of Firefox & Thunderbird
about:Mozilla Mozilla’s Mission: To promote choice and innovation on the Internet
the Web is too important... seriously. that’s it.
about:Mozilla •Mozilla project started in 1998 within Netscape •Mozilla Foundation started in 2003 •approximately 200 employees in 20 countries •40% of code contributed by non-employees •testing community of 20,000+ •current reach is more than 220 million users
Firefox Market Share as of 3/2008
Now... Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009
Insight #1 Superior Products Matter
Look again at some big successes... All are known for being best-in-class for users
Without excellent experience & utility, the rest is meaningless
Insight #2 Push (most) decision-making to the edges
The Strongest Open Systems are Chaords 1. distributed decision-making 2. nodal authority 3. ways to route around http://upload.wikimedia.org/ wikipedia/en/d/d2/ Internet_map_1024.jpg
Characteristics of Chaords (coined by Dee Hock) 1. exhibit characteristics of both chaos & order 2. regularly yield surprising innovation 3. highly robust & scalable systems examples: the Internet, Visa, Wikipedia
Mozilla is a Chaord 1. high agreement on core values 2. decision-making rests with module owners 3. groups have distinct ways of working 4. many decision-makers outside the “ofﬁcial” org 5. communication is central
Insight #3 Communication will happen in every possible way (so make sure it’s reusable)
People will communicate in every useful way possible
Blogs (and especially, Other Peoples’ Blogs!)
Our main channels: bugzilla, IRC & newsgroups
Increasing: video, audio & chat
And very frequent real-life get-togethers
Key: make every conversation (re)usable by as many people as possible
Insight #4 Make it easy for your community to do the important things
SuMo, QMO, SFx
Localization Firefox ships in 62 languages; 61 of them localized by volunteers Making it easy is a huge priority
Our focus now is on making it easier to help others do more
Insight #5 Surprise is overrated
Surprise is the opposite of engagement
Goal is to increase the “inner circle” of participation
Surprising to some
Goal is to have growing inner circle -- ideally everyone should feel included
Insight #6 Communities are not markets: members are citizens
Citizens?? Citizens are more than consumers, are more than bystanders, are more than stakeholders
Citizens! They are us. We are them.
The best citizens challenge the status quo, propose improvements and make the conversation richer.
They don’t just make products better. They make them what they are.
Insight #7 (meta-insight) The key is the art of ﬁguring out whether & how to apply each of these ideas
How?? Experiment! Try things! Measure where possible.
There are real problems, of course
Problem #1 Engaged citizens are noisy
Citizens are noisy... “Fitts’ says bigger “The URL bar should buttons are better.” “What’s with the be removed.” dirty house?” “There should be “My mom doesn’t “Nobody uses the “Add support for a preference setting.” understand tabs.” ‘Go’ button.” BitTorrent.” “OpenID is the future!” “That’s great!” “Everyone uses tags, not bookmarks.” “I love tabs!” “The proﬁle manager should be redesigned.” “Add support for Ogg Vorbis.” “That’s awful” “Closebuttons are better at the end of the tabstrip.”
...and vital. They help products & technology & organization make hard decisions in the right way.
Problem #2 At scale, there are no maps
Actually, there are maps But they’re everybody else’s maps, and not really yours
dragons everywhere http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Carta_Marina
Key is deﬁning what you care about, and how to measure it, and how to communicate litmus tests
Postscript 2 Thoughts for 2009
Thought #1 The Web is central (but at some risk)
Every browser is getting better on standards, JS performance, etc... But not at the same pace.
And this slower pace of change creates real problems for developers
Thought #2 Together, we’re all deciding the future of the mobile Web right now
Is this what we want? Traditional tight coupling between service, manufacturer & software http://ﬂickr.com/photos/jaboobie/11686470/
We can do better than this tethered model On the Web, you don’t have to ask permission
Choices have consequences Which one do you want?
Questions & Discussion John Lilly - firstname.lastname@example.org All content CC-Attribution Thanks & apologies & materials borrowed from: Mike Beltzner, Chris Beard, the Mozilla Community
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