Summit experiences

Somewhat surprisingly given that I’ve been “around” for “a while”, this year’s was the first summit I went to. I’d been to several FOSDEMs, a EuroOSCON/EuroFoo, and several other conferences as a Mozillian, but somehow the invitations for Summits/MozCamps/Add-on events had always come at a time when I had already planned other international travel for whenever they were happening (once more my apologies to Will, who I think has never had any other response to invites than apologetic “erm, I’d love to, but I can’t make it — maybe next time?” emails).

Anyhow, this was the first time announcements came so early (and my traveling had somewhat quietened down) that I was still free. And what an event it was! I met a whole bunch of folks that I’d never seen before, despite interacting with them online for years now (I would add a list but I’d be sure to forget someone…). It’s great to have faces (and some stories) to the names. Then there were some of my Firefox MoCo teammates that I met for the first time. I also had a chance to hang out with a wide range of people, volunteer and employee alike, active in totally (or only slightly) different areas of the project than me (MoCo “people team” folks, documentation writers, reps, devtools team members, add-ons developers, Paris office workplace resource people, and the list goes on…) both during sessions as well as in bars, when walking through random bits of Brussels, or in the hotel lobby / breakfast room.

Session-wise, I first went to the excellent session about Privacy, Security and Data. Thanks Garrett, Stacy, Curtis, Crystal, etc. for a fascinating session about what we can do and how our biases about privacy as technically adept folks are different from most other people, who worry about completely different things.

The next day I spent a bunch of my energy showing off Australis and answering questions about it at the Innovation Fair together with Jared, Matt, and many of the UX team people (who had a bunch of other stuff to show off, not just Australis). At the Brussels booth, we had a good selection of questions and worries from people about add-on compatibility, Linux (sadly, our booth table was big enough for two laptops, on which we showed OS X and Windows builds, which probably prompted many of the questions), customizability, and how to test the builds. Hopefully we did a good job answering those questions, and we’re getting ever closer to shipping Australis on Nightly!

We then had a hurried lunch and I went to the “Developing empathy for your users” session. I met some more amazing people there, and we had an interesting time thinking through the motivations and interests of the people that our UX team met doing field research, and trying to see how and why they made decisions the way they did. Thank you Larissa and Maureen for an excellent session!

Afterwards I had a quick conversation with Blake about an idea that I’d been mulling over for a while now, and spent the rest of the afternoon hacking. Not that idea, but related, is now slowly progressing on bugzilla: create source maps for preprocessed chrome files. Otherwise, if I find some extra hours in my week (unlikely) I may try and produce something else to ease hacking on the front-end of Mozilla products. 🙂

Finally, on Sunday, there was a bunch more hacking, and I went to the excellent session on DRM, where we had a somewhat depressing discussion about what we as Mozilla can do about the EME proposal in the W3C HTML spec.

On Monday, we all went home again! I think what I took away from the summit most of all was an increased awareness of the size and diversity of our community and its goals, as well as how the mission unites us. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a complex and large event as well as they did! 🙂