Pune and Mumbai

Excerpted from my nightly notes as I traveled through India on Mozilla work. This part covers our voyage to Pune and Mumbai.

February 21

The guy working at the bakery knows where it is, or so he says. He gesticulates emphatically, pointing to the alley behind the neon INRI above the cross, which serves as an illuminating reminder that we’re in a big Roman Catholic neighborhood. I’ve been leading sethb and pike on a tour of Mumbai’s narrow winding lanes, all to further the discourse about the Open Web. We’re in Chuim Village on a Sunday night, after having left GNUnify 2010 in Pune. We’re on our way to the pad.ma offices and are following Sanjay Bhangar’s detailed directions. We’re here to talk to some of the Mozilla Mumbai community about HTML5, video, and emerging web technologies, and to ingest beer and delicious biriyani. We find out that Jan Gerber (who wrote Firefogg) and Sebastian Luetgert are in Mumbai as well, representing the impressive 0xdb.org movie database and working with pad.ma. It promises to be a very interesting evening, if we can actually find the place.

Earlier in the same Sunday, sethb, ragavan, pike and I spoke to the PuneTech community, consisting of local startups and techies in the Pune area. We talked about the entrepreneurial opportunities accorded by the open web. Here’s the presentation I used to stimulate discussion. I talked about HTML5 (inclusive of the WebApps APIs, such as the File API and Orientation Events), CSS3′s @font-face property, and discussed the potential this had for Indic fonts. We closed with demos of Ambiera’s amazing Copperlicht JavaScript 3D engine built on WebGL. There was lots of talk about what open video and the video API actually meant for web applications, and the questions flowed freely. sethb then ran an ad-hoc entrepreneur’s competition to come up with great open web applications, splitting the room up into groups of three. Ideas included an Indian equivalent to typekit.com and e-learning for the hearing challenged using the HTML5 video API to nest videos within videos (with sign language in the interior video explaining the exterior one). Gurminder gives us a summary.

There weren’t as many questions on Friday, when I gave a similar demo-driven talk about the open web as part of GNUnify 2010. ragavan talked about Mozilla Labs, and sparked much discussion about OpenID. It’s clear that identity is probably one of the juiciest problems on the web. pike gave an overview of advances the Mozilla project has made with respect to localization.

You’d think I’d be exhausted by the time we leave Pune and get to Mumbai, but I’m simply hyper by the time we arrive on Sunday evening. Following the guy in the bakery’s directions, we navigate our way up some stairs to a charming rooftop overlooking Chuim. The pad.ma folks have got us together for an eclectic evening of code and cinema, and have a large screen with a projector trained on it. My open web demos this time around are choreographed by fireworks from a local wedding, punctuating their punch. Attendees ask us a bunch of questions, and I relish the opportunity to geek out a bit with Sanjay, Jan, Sebastian, and folks from the gnowledge.org project (who have a bunch of SVG questions for me). Jan and Sebastian have put together really slick UI on 0xdb.org, and are passionate advocates of stylable scrollbars, a la WebKit. All the while, we’re drinking beers and eating Mumbai’s best biriyani.

Our trip is off to a great start. Firefox accounts for 30% of the Indian browser market, and it’s clear that we have a vibrant community here. We have a few days of meetings lined up in Mumbai, and I’m going into all of them fairly amped.

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