Mozilla Summit 2008, IMHO

Since I find myself at the airport with "hours to go before I sleep," I figured I should take a shot at recapping the Mozilla Summit from my perspective.  Others have discussed the rock-slide and such, so I'll focus on other things.  Having spent the night on a bus winding its way down through the mountains instead of in bed, I make no claims to accuracy in content, spelling, or grammar.  Enjoy.

First, as I said earlier in the week, the organizers of this event really did an amazing job.  Last night's gondola trip and dinner atop the mountain was pretty fantastic.  I got a chuckle listening to those riding with me experience snow for the first time.

In terms of the content of the week, there was a ton to take in and digest.  One of the best aspects of bringing all these people together is that you get so many amazing devs in one place at a time.  Sure, I talk to many of them on-line, but it's not the same, and this week reminded me of that.  I love just listening to what they are all working on, hearing ideas for the future, and getting tied into opportunites that are just getting momentum.

Some random highlights for me:

  • Robert Sayre's D-Trace session.  Rob fooled the whole room with his calm presentation style.  He went around the room and asked people where we need probes.  He filled 3 flip-chart sheets with modules and various places, and then changed tact: "OK, now we start assigning."  I loved the fact that he took advantage of the group all being there and pushed things forward (I also feel badly for those who were not there and got assigned anyway!).  In the fall I plan to throw some students on this.
  • Great discussions with Mark, Frank, Brian, and others about the importance of our open source education work with Mozilla.  The Mozilla Foundation 2.0 session and other side discussions help me understand that our work to create new Mozilla contributors is valuable, and I got lots of input for how to continue growing it.
  • Seeing the Thunderbird community gathered in one room was great.  I think David and Dan were surprised at just how large the group was--many times larger than #mailnews #maildev.  That was encouraging.  We had some good discussions about how to bring new people into this community, and I was glad to be able to advocate on behalf of students and other new contributors with regard to knowing which work will get traction.  David, Dan and I had a number of follow-up discussions looking at other ways to leverage grants and academic involvement.  I hope we'll find ways to take it to the next level.
  • Shaver's "State of the Browser" talk was entertaining and filled with amazing demos of things that are either just landed, or about to land.  Even a crowd that works on browsers every day was impressed with what was on offer, and it's a testament to how much parallel innovation is happening in the community all the time.
  • Meeting roc.  I didn't know when I'd ever get the chance (I'm still trying to cook-up reasons why I have to go to New Zealand...), and he's someone I've always wanted to meet in person.  I have a lot of respect for him and the work he does, even if I understand only a fraction of it.
  • Ted's talk on places where it's hard/impossible to write tests currently was enlightening.  I can't believe how many issues stand in the way of really having complete test coverage.  It's another thing I hope to work with him on in the fall.
  • Meeting my long lost brother, Johnny Stenback, over dinner.  No, I'm not from Finland, but it turns out we share something more essential in that we have a nearly identical "living in the country, crappy power, horendous Internet" stories.  I've never met anyone who had so many points of alignment with my own situation, and it was highly cathartic (why did I never think to run fibre between the houses?!?).  I wonder if I'll be able to find a student brave enough to take on his idea of doing a plugin test framework.  Let's hope.
  • DXR meet-up and planning session with Benjamin and Taras.  To say that these guys have high hopes for what it might do is an understatement.  But I think it's all doable, and I'm pumped to get started on it again in the fall.  You know good things are coming when you see this on irc in the wee hours of the morning: "04:01 < csmedberg> woot, initial outline of dxrpy code in my hg userdir"
  • Seeing so many Seneca students who are now employees or interns with Mozilla.  That's a very rewarding feeling, and it was wonderful to catch-up.
    My sleep deprivation is getting the better of me now, and I'm having trouble remembering the other million things.  Suffice it to say that everywhere I turned there were energetic and passionate people who wanted to meet with me about student projects (add yours here if you have more), ideas for scaling educaiton, the Mozilla Developer Resource Kit, etc.  I couldn't even sneak out of the hotel at 2:00 am to catch my bus without John O'Duinn nabbing me to talk build and release! :)

When you're an introvert like me, these massive group exercises are overwhelming and exhausting.  I wouldn't do it for many other groups of people, but there is something special about Mozilla.  I'm thrilled to have been included in the fun, and thankful for the invitation to attend.  I know that the discussions from this past week will go on to shape the next year, and that input was invaluable.

Thanks, Mozilla.  It was good to see you.

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