Tag Archives: Mozilla

SxSW 2012 Redux

Things HAPPEN after the browser wars panel I’ve now moderated for five years in a row at SxSW. Brendan posts this about H.264 in Mozilla.

Then, Jeremy Keith, our unofficial rabble-rouser, excoriates the cognoscenti about a certain “lack of imagination.” Chris Wilson, finally at liberty to blog and tweet about his responsibilities as web platform guy for Google, responds conversationally.

Browser wars always delivers. Thank you, Brendan (“Dart? Good luck with that!”), Charles (who conducted a much-needed straw poll: “Who knows what vendor prefixing is?” to which many hands went up, underscoring the fact that SxSW is really our favorite audience), Chris (“Do you ship VBScript?”), and John (“Chromeless — my favorite word.”).

The panel always coincides with my birthday. I won’t get mawkish, but I will say that there’s something interesting about growing up with web browsers professionally. When I was with Netscape, I talked a relentless amount of smack about IE and railed against closed-source stacks. That kind of talk is antiquated now, really. Flash fallback (for video) notwithstanding, there are open sourced stacks that confuse the web platform landscape. We talked about some of those during the panel, chiefly Dart (though SPDY and VP8 got some mention, along with Native Client). At some point, I found myself moderating a panel where browser vendors agree about the importance of DRM, and its inevitability on the web platform, at least as far as video goes. Times have changed. Have we all grown up? There used to be visceral auto-immune responses in some circles to any kind of mention of DRM whatsoever.

This time, SxSW was bigger than ever. Long lines. LOTS of long lines. And after-after-after parties for people that scorn sleep. Of course, I allowed myself some minor peccadilloes this year at SxSW. Like how I found myself on Snoop Dogg’s tour bus at 4a.m. one night, somewhere on the way to San Antonio. But that’s another kind of story. You’ll have to ask me about it in person.

Update: You can follow the H.264 conversation on the hacks blog also if only to be exposed to a different comment stream.

Browser Wars Episode V: The Angry Birds Era

It’s back on again. Five times makes an institution, I suppose, despite what some feel is an anachronistic name (“Browser WARS? Haven’t you won already?”). This year, with Angry Birds getting at least an honorable mention. March 10 2012, from 5PM – 6PM, at Salon K of the Hilton Hotel in Austin, Texas, for SxSW.

I can’t seem to stay away. This is a vibrant space, and the very smart people I will moderate during Saturday’s discussion are the forerunners of it: Brendan Eich, who invented JavaScript, and is Mozilla’s CTO; Chris Wilson, who worked on every version of IE till IE8 and now works on Chrome for Google (we’re thrilled to have him back, following a brief moratorium); Charles McCathie Nevile, Opera’s Chief Standards Officer, back again this year; and John Hrvatin, IE’s Program Manager and a veteran from last year.

The technologies that we steward here have profound implications for society, and an hour is tight. Recently, Microsoft protested about how Google circumvents privacy in IE and Safari (showing, amongst other things, that two players, Google and Microsoft, are at loggerheads frequently).

Then, there are interesting questions about content itself. Should web video have DRM, or is that the real anachronism? Content protection measures in HTML5 Video proposed by Google, Microsoft, and Netflix have been dubbed unethical; parties within one company clearly don’t agree about how to take it forward, but that’s really how the web works (and big organizations like Google).

And then there’s those Angry Birds. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, called for installable web apps to become more widespread, something which Ian Hickson (editor of the HTML5 specification) dubs “anathema.” What prevents Angry Birds from being an HTML5 app on mobile, and what exactly are the application stacks the web is in competition with? Some of our panelists and their organizations have been moved to call us to arms.

Throw in the vendor prefixing controversy (now as seen in the popular press!), SPDY, VP8 and other “non-standard” well-meaning projects, along with the Metro environment’s use of HTML5, and I think we’ve got ourselves enough wheat and chaff for a panel. As usual, audience participation counts for at least one-third of the panel, so come with questions. I look forward to seeing you all there, and to a Saturday night out in Austin after the panel. That’s an institution with longevity, too.

browser logos

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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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.

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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.