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In the tech space right now you can’t have missed the news about the EC and Microsoft’s landmark settlement, and the Browser Choice screen. Its a historic first step in placing choice directly in the hands of the user. But it is just that, a “first step”.

Creating choice, and advocating for it has been integral to the Mozilla mission since its inception (you will recall going back to a time when there wasn’t another solid browser choice to IE). But choice is nothing if you haven’t been able to learn about the options, and therefore ultimately make a decision that’s right for you.

Last week in association with YouGov in the UK, Mozilla commissioned a survey which concluded 77% of Britons did not know the Browser Choice screen was coming, and that they would soon be asked to choose their browser. So what’s the good of choice if (i) no-one knows there is one and (ii) what’s the right choice for them?

If you’re reading my blog via the Mozilla planet blog, it goes without saying that you understand the implications of the choices you make online, and I bet you’ve been bent on helping those around you understand this for many years. You’re tech savvy and web smart — but how does that lady in the next town from you learn more about why choice matters online? How will she learn why her browser is so important to her online experience, and how will she then make the right choice for herself when the times comes?

Its clear much, much more needs to be done to help citizens understand the online choices which are available, and their implications for the individual and the Web. Everyone should have the right to make an informed choice which is best for them.

I’m proud to be part of Mozilla, who has chosen a path to educate people about the Browser Choice Screen. We started our campaign with an Open Letter from John Lilly (Mozilla CEO) and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Chair), calling for wider discussion around Web choice and in particular the Browser Choice screen.

I believe we all – as individual custodians of the Web, (and just darn nice people!) that it’s our obligation to make sure more people know how best to choose for themselves. In the case of the Browser Choice screen, it doesn’t matter to me which browser is chosen, or if a decision is made not to make a choice. But it is important to know how a choice of browser affects one’s experience online, and that its important a decision to based on a person’s individual needs, and belief.

What can you do?

  • If you’re a journalist – I urge you to write about the browser choice screen, and help your readers make an informed choice. Provide the facts and raise awareness, you have their ears.
  • If you are a blogger and Internet commentator, also please inform your fans and readers. Everything you can do to help people educate themselves, will ultimately better serve the Web.
  • If you’re an individual who has already made your browser choice,  please help educate someone in your school, office and family to make theirs.

opentochoice.org has been started by Mozilla as a place to learn and discuss online choice. Browser choice is simply the beginning, much more needs to happen to ensure Web users are fully in control of their online lives, and can make choices which best serve their needs. Join us there.

Over this past weekend (Oct 25-26), I joined 150 Mozilla contributors, and staff, and around 40 members of the general public at the Mozilla Camp at Citilabs in Barcelona.

We decided to hold this first European Mozilla only event earlier this year, for a couple of reasons.

1) We had talked for several years about tacking an extra day onto the FOSDEM weekend held in Brussels each year, to hold a Mozilla only event. This has always proved hard, as most folks who attend are volunteers and its tough to take more time off from work. We also thought one day, just simply wouldn’t be enough.

2) Adding diversity was also important. That means not only from bringing more people together from across Europe, be that from Latvia or Poland, or the other 23 countries in Europe who work to contribute to Mozilla — but also to include different types of Mozillian participation groups, and our rich mosaic of projects.

So the event ended up being a 2 day mash up of keynotes, discussion groups, brainstorming, hacking, bonding, heated discussions and all this — across multiple Mozilla projects – Thunderbird & Messaging, Mobile, Firefox and Labs, — and across the Localization, Quality Assurance, Development and Marketing teams.

It was a colourful explosion of Mozillian DNA, and speaking for myself I have been through a gazillion emotions these past two days. I felt my stomach talking to me when I got excited about Mozilla Labs, Messaging and Mobile — the progress we are making to drive the future of the Web is incredible. I was proud by our successes of Firefox, and have been humbled several times over by talking to so many contributors who give so much of their lives to supporting the open web. I was inspired by our unity to believe in the future of the Web, in each others skills and beliefs — and our over-riding passion to keep going and make a difference.

Please do go and check out the Mozilla Camp’s official mashup page set up by our friends at Mozilla Hispano you’ll find photo feeds and tweets of the 2 day conference.
http://mozcamp08.mozilla-hispano.com/

We also hope to be able to share more photos and videos of the sessions shortly.

Some thoughts from my side of what was good and bad:

More of the same for next time:

– Great organization – I heard many times over the event was one of the best open source events, which has been held from an organizational stance. Everything from meeting people at the airport, to providing a free public transport travel pass for the weekend, and having wifi throughout the venue, plus a lab centre where groups could get together and hack on the venue’s machines — all made for a great hassle free time.

– The event set up also proved to be a good mix. We held keynotes in the mornings, which everyone could participate in and learn more about what was going on in all the Mozilla projects. This allowed folks to learn about what else is going on at Mozilla, and stuff we are thinking about for the next 1-2 years. Labs was a heavy focus here, plus Messaging and Mobile.  In the afternoon, we had people break up more into tracks based on tasks e.g. Localization, Development and QA. Here groups were able to get a lot done as a team in the flesh — in fact this was the first time the QA team had ever been able to get together in one place as everyone is so distributed across the world. So there was a good mix between meeting new people and learning about new projects, whilst having special time with the people you work with in your area of focus.

– Wonderful visitors from Mozilla. We were lucky to have some very knowledgeable and key folks from Mozilla attend the camp, giving many people (including myself for some people) the first time to meet with John Lilly, Mozilla’s CEO, Mark Surman, the new Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, David Ascher, CEO of Mozilla Messaging, Chris Beard our Chief Innovation Officier, Tristan Nitot, President of Mozilla Europe and many, many more people.

What could we do better next time?

– I’d like to have more people from the general public attend. We did have around 20-40 people attend sessions over the weekend, but I would like us to have more opportunities to get people new to meet Mozilla and big Mozilla fans to attend. I’m certain people would like to help, but are not alaways sure how to get involved. Visiting us at events, is a great way to make some connections and discuss how you could get involved.

– Obviously I am biased as I work in marketing, but I would like to see us have more sessions on marketing and brainstorming on how to tackle spreading the open Web message.  I also think we could attract more non-technical people to get involved in the project and our mission. In the same vein, I’d like to encourage more women to attend, less than 5% of people at the Mozilla Camp were women. Perhaps the marketing activity side may help us reach out to more ladies who would like to get involved.

– More vegetarian Food (especially on behalf of Clint, Marcia, Patrick and myself!)

– Lastly, I would like to find a way to get more people involved with the event who are remote and were not able to attend. Last week, I also attended Web 2.0 in Berlin, and have to say that I think conferences haven’t really evolved in terms of how they involve the Web and a wider community. I’d like us to explore how we could get others involved in more ways than reading our tweets, and seeing live streams. I’ll get my thinking hat on, and ask O’Reilly to do the same with the coming Web 2.0 conferences.

By the way, if you attended the camp and have some comments or suggestions, good or bad – please do comment on my blog or get in touch with us directly. Or, if you have comments in general – I would be glad to hear. We hope to create an event like this again next year and would love to learn of your impressions.

Finally, there are a few people I need to say a huge thanks to and pull out for the great job they did to create such a successful event:

* At the helm was William Quiviger who joined Mozilla only in the summer time and organized an amazing event in only a few months. William, you should be very proud indeed of your achievement, we are all impressed on so many levels. You have certainly raised the bar!
* Delphine, Sonny, Anne-Julie, Patrick, Tristan and Pascal Chevrel also helped a great deal. Thank you.
* All our US Mozilla visitors, thank you for taking time to visit Europe and spend time with our teams of contributors – we all learned a lot and appreciated it very much
* I’d also like to offer huge thanks to Citilab who hosted the camp for us in Barcelona. The people here are doing a wonderful job, they have an incredible venue, and have been so warm and giving – I dont know how we would have done it without them. If you are looking for a place to hold an event in Barcelona – please visit Citilabs – you cannot go wrong. To Maria and her team – thank you.
* I would like to make a special thanks to Mozilla Europe who supported the event, and made it possible to bring us all together for this first time in this way.
* Finally, thank you to everyone who came from across all of Europe and gave up your weekend to meet with your fellow Mozillians – we hope you enjoyed your time and felt it was worthwhile, I know we did.

Please join us for Today’s call.

10 a.m. PDT / 7pm CET / 6pm GMT: Dial-in is +1 650-903-0800, ext 91, id 248 or + 1 800-707-2533, password 369, ext 91, id 248 and #events on irc.mozilla.org.

Here is the agenda:

* Europe Update

** John Lilly at Web 2.0 in Berlin, Germany, Oct 23rd

** Tristan Nitot at OSWC in Malaga, Spain, Oct 20-22

** MozCamp EU Barcelona, Oct. 26-28

* World Wide

** FSOSS, Oct. 24 – 24, Seneca College, Toronto
** MexicoWeb 2.0, Nov. 3 – 4, Cancun, Mexico
** Green Festival, Nov. 14 – 16, San Francisco, CA
** Nonprofit Software Development Summit, Nov. 17 – 19, Oakland, CA
** FOSS.in, Nov. 25 – 27, Bangalore, India
** Mozilla Contributor/User meetup, Nov. 29, Victoria, Canada
** FOSSCamp Dec. 5 – 6
** Add-on Con, Dec. 11, Mountain View

http://www.spreadfirefox.com/node/3134

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