Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

Sometimes, what goes around does come around. I first started playing with Mozilla, a project launched by Netscape Communications, in 1998. That was a whopping ten years ago. I was in Bangalore, fresh out of college, and had finished a stint in Rajasthan as a substitute French teacher to dilute the effects of four years of undergraduate mathematics and computer science. Hiatus aside, grad school or profession or professional gadabout? The technology industry came calling with its dubious promises of intriguing work and the potential to travel (and a free cafeteria to eat in, and a free Internet connection), and Bangalore was the place to be, with its nascent information technology subculture.

Something stuck, because by early 2001, I was working for Netscape as Technology Evangelist on Mozilla. Continue reading

SxSW ’08 Redux via Epistolary Rumination

Dear Chris, Chaals, and Brendan,

Thank you. For two years, you’ve put up with my jittery nagging a few hours before the panel, and for two years, it has rocked.

Dear Apple,

We really missed you. Our “Browser Wars” panel at SxSWi ’08 was standing room only, with people lining up outside who couldn’t get in. We discussed stuff that was really relevant to Safari, touching on mobility, standards, security, JavaScript, and stuff like that — PC Mag has a rough record of the conversation. People love your stuff — the MacBook Pro and the iPhone were ubiquitous at the Austin Convention Center. And while you are open in your standards participation (working groups like Web API and HTML conduct business in the open), and while you are candid on the Surfin’ Safari Weblog, it would be great if your PR / Marketing department could let you come out and play with us. Maybe next year?

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SxSW ’08 | The End of History (Not)

The grackle birds are out in full force in Austin. They are noisy and obnoxious, but I only visit with them but once a year, when I, like scores of other Californians, descend on Austin, TX, for Geek Camp, aka South By SouthWest 2008.

Young-ish trendy persons with laptops and iPhones and loosely slung satchels meander around the Austin Convention Center. Panels are being held, and the sun is shining (mostly), and the after parties are kicking, and film makers, musicians, designers, and geeks are all coalescing, as per the norm.

Last year, I chaired a panel bringing Brendan Eich (Mozilla/Firefox, and inventor of JavaScript), Chris Wilson (Microsoft/IE, worked on every version of IE in recent memory), and Charles McCathieNevile (Opera — a standards titan who travels the world working on standards) to the table to discuss where the Web was going. It was a great panel discussion which embraced spirited debate.

A year has passed, and PC Magazine thinks we’re about ready to usher in the “boring era” of Web browsers. Really? A little bit like the End of History, where things were supposed to be all nice and boring after the end of the Cold War, but ended up being anything but?

OK, look. I’ll be the first to admit that the term “wars” shouldn’t be used when talking about Web browsers. This year, when I agreed to do the panel again at SxSW 2008, I used the term “war” to pack the auditorium. But let’s be frank about a few things.

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Eight Ball | Decisions, Rats, and That Kind of Thing

Another year, already, and change is the buzz word. I hear it in the speeches during the primaries (and from the pundits, who editorialize about the “change election”). It’s an election year, and we all want change. How time flies! Our astral mascot is a rodent, and we’re going to collectively do things differently this year. That’s the Zeitgeist-y feeling, anyway.

But change is really in the offing for me, too, so all this talk of change in 2008 resonates with me on a more personal level. I resigned from AOL to do my own thing for a little while, and so far, it’s been great. Here’s what I learned about hard decisions.

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Mr. Gandhi Goes to Frankfurt

So I’m in Frankfurt Airport, after the long continental puddle hop from California, and I’m weary. I can’t see so well, because my eyes are a bit sore. I’m on my way to Spain to attend the Open Source in Mobile conference in Madrid, and I have my Indian Passport and a few sundry papers of visitation clutched tenuously in my hand. I’m merely transiting through Germany, and I’m trying to find the line where I can get my stamp, since I possess a valid visa to go to my next port of call.

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An annotated anthology of Arun Ranganathan's Web noise.