Category Archives: Society

No Browser Wars in Austin

This year, I’m not moderating the Browser Wars Panel at SxSW. I did it for three years in a row, and maybe three time’s a charm. It got written up by PC Magazine each time, and that felt great. The truth is, I can no longer be unbiased (I work for Mozilla on Firefox now). What’s even more true is that I’m so occupied with standards-body issues that I’m concerned I no longer have my ear right on the pulse of what web developers want. Last year, Jeremy provoked a riot when he “threw some shit at the fan” (his words) about font formats. Me, I largely kept the peace, but couldn’t resist a little school-boyish bullying of Chris Wilson (then still the IE guy) about a few things, and I also got accused of going easy on Darin, the Google guy.

What makes a compelling story for me is the browser peace, though. The web as a platform (“The Web Platform”) wins through consensus about standardization. I blogged recently about standards in the device era. What I didn’t touch on is whether patents will thwart the attempt to build out the promise of a seamlessly interoperable web. I’m not moderating a discussion dubbed “Browser Wars” this year, but I’ll leave last year’s attendees (as proxies for their browser companies) some fly-by notes:

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Suketu Mehta says Mumbai is a vada-pav eater’s city. Within a city of riotous diversity, vada-pav, typically a street food, may be an obvious unifying factor.

It’s also being cleverly co-opted as a symbol for MozCampMumbai, another amazing Mozilla community event, taking place on Sunday July 19 in Mumbai.


Speaking at MozCampDelhi was one of the highlights at the start of this year, and I’m sorry I can’t be at MozCampMumbai in person. Asa, Mary and I recorded a video for the occasion, which I suspect we’ll post on Air Mozilla before long. I spoke about font-face, HTML5 Video, and a few other things that I think are particularly relevant to folks attending MozCampMumbai.  If you’re attending MozCampMumbai and reading this after you’ve watched me prattle on in the video, happy MozHunt :)  Enjoy some vada-pav, hackery and conversations about the Web.

Facelifting the Medium

The medium is the message and all, but for a long time, my medium was the wallflower at the party. Basically, I’m saying I had an ugly looking blog. I’d frequently be too embarrassed by its sheer lack of graphical adroitness to do much writing on it. Now of course, smart designers will tell you that content is still king, and only a bad carpenter blames his tools. Who really cares about ugly fonts and the lack of pretty pictures, if I spun an engaging-enough yarn about the goings-on in my exciting web world? I was making excuses for my lack of blog updates, and Twitter was satisfying my need for public self-expression. But then, on a whim, I roped in my buddies Cindy Li and Matt Harris to fix things around the place.

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SxSW 2009 | Four Guys Walk Into a Panel…

It’s that time of the year again, and I’m back. I’m doing the Browser Wars Panel again for the third whopping time, and this time there are a few things that are different from the last two years.

For one, I now actually work for a browser company. Sure, some folks argued that I never really left (at least spiritually, since the last time around) but there’s a difference between just contributing and picking up a paycheck. And this time, we’ve got a fourth participant — Darin Fisher, who now works on Google Chrome, will join the discussion I moderate. This will be a fun session — we’ll have to break Darin in, but he’s been around the block, too, with past history working on Mozilla. It’ll be a spirited discussion (some of us will talk smack), and audience participation makes it all worth it. But really, we want to discuss where the web is going from here. The web is 20 years old now, and was feted where it was originally invented today, at a nuclear research institute (CERN) in Switzerland. With the JavaScript performance wars, escalation on the standards front about things like fonts and graphics, and the advent of a new entrant, where do these guys think it will all go?

Some things, however, don’t change much over the course of three years. Still no Apple — their PR machinery won’t allow it, given the publicity this thing has gotten. But Darin (who worked on Firefox and Chrome) will speak for Google’s use of WebKit, Charles McCathieNevile (worked on lots of W3C specifications; is Opera’s standards officer) will speak again for Opera, Chris Wilson will represent IE (worked on every single version of the thing, and is a CSS muckety-muck), and Brendan (invented JavaScript) will represent Firefox.

If you’re in Austin, say hi. If my voice holds up, you can also see me at Fray Cafe, telling a story.