So, I've spent a lot of this day with philosophical issues, thinking about a lot of things surrounding, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Firefox, the web, and the future.
I found myself in danger of being misaligned with where Mozilla is heading as the project is trying to make the open web more relevant and be a force that constructs where the web as a whole is going, possibly even fearing oblivion if not being in the lead there, and SeaMonkey and myself are easily seen as conservative and backwards and probably irrelevant from that point of view. Not that I agree that things are necessarily that grim, but it is a great base to really go deep and let your thoughts wander.
Now, what are the powers that seem to be shaping a lot of the web today and which we are facing when wanting to make our mission and vision win ultimately?
Google is trying hard to be your one true way to get to information, Facebook your one true way to friends, Microsoft your one true way for applications (in the cloud), Apple your one true way to mobile computing and media - of course, all on "the web", trying to make those rather large areas of the Internet their realm and ultimately rule over your online life.
(Of course, that description of the contenders is largely incomplete, there are some more areas, some of those and probably a few others competing over them, but more details wouldn't change the picture much.)
The common theme here, as you're seeing, is that single large companies are trying to be the "one true way" to do things - some for very specific areas, some for multiple ones, possibly ultimately all your online experience.
Bring in feature-rich web applications: Now you can do everything online on their services, in the cloud, running on their machines, under their tight control, they can have all your data to use for any mining they want to make money with, share it with whomever pays, and it even looks nice and convenient for you! Isn't that cool?
One shape fits all, one entity controls all, runs all, and markets all. Well, nice if you're that entity, probably not so nice if you are individualistic, don't do or want to fit that common shape, or want to have self-control over your own (online) life, let alone don't want to or can't be online all the time. Or, heaven forbid, be creative and shape some part of the future on your own!
Now, here's where Mozilla comes in, why that project really matters, and why the future needs our work.
If you always wondered if there's some scheme going on behind what Mozilla does, be it Firefox or anything else, let me be clear: there is
And that scheme "behind the scenes", the very core of what makes Mozilla such a great and special project, is our mission of promoting openness, innovation, and opportunity online
That mission means, for example, that what we're trying to accomplish is that everything is built in a way that everyone can see how it works and rebuild it him-/herself and plug him-/herself into the network of services. You can built your own search engine, friend network, web application, or even mobile app/service and can fully hook it into your online experience and your browser and even offer it to others, without needing to ask anyone for permission. In that light, web applications are things you can re-shape, run independently and control yourself. You also can control your data and determine who is being able to do what with it. You can be inventive and find new ways of doing things - for you and others. And you can even choose what your window to that experience is, you're not bound to a single shape or size - e.g. use a visual screen, a screen reader or braille display; use a traditional desktop browser like Firefox, an integrated Internet suite like SeaMonkey, or a mobile browser like Firefox for mobile devices (and I'm just using our own projects as examples for convenience, we welcome any competition that is in line the mission). Or even find a completely new way of doing it!
OK, if you're in the Mozilla community, you probably already know that. But there's more.
Think about breaking down the borders between web application and desktop application development: What if writing one or the other would be so similar that it's almost or completely the same? There will always we a need for offline or local applications, and there's some historical evidence that even could make one assume that after the web application being the cool hype, there will be some wave towards local applications again. What if a developer wouldn't need to care much and his code would run the same in both settings, and at the same time on all kinds of operating systems that people may use now and in the future? I know one single piece of technology out there that is in a unique position to strongly enable and support that. Did you know that a real lot of the Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey applications are written in almost exactly the same technologies that are used for web applications? Now, guess what I'm thinking about here.
And now, what if that one shape of the window to the Internet (the browser) isn't really what fits you? What if you want a different interface that provides you with more, less, or different features? Imagine this browser, let's call it "Firefox" for the sake of the argument allows all kinds of free changes to the face it shows you, i.e. its User Interface, and anyone with knowledge of web-like technologies can create those mods and offer them to anyone else who might like them, in some kind of "add-on" system? Ah, right, we already have that. And what if you want some really different UI, say one with a lot of advanced data controlling features available fast in its menus, and that even has a built-in message center for online communication and also some easy way to create simple web content built in? Good we already have SeaMonkey for you. And what if you want to build something different yourself? We even have that already. And we are working on improving that.
Build your own shape that fits you, control your things yourself, run things like you want, make your own market. Take what's there and improve it. Create a better future.
Now, if that doesn't have potential!
We only need to work and care that it's successful.
Let's beat the drum
for that. Let's keep the Internet diverse. Let's make a difference!