Citizen Garden #6 on site-specific browsers featuring Jon Crosby and Todd Ditchendorf

Citizen Garden 6I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but Larry Halff (Ma.gnolia) and I have been recording a series of podcasts with a bunch of interesting folks on topics ranging from data portability to data interop and authorization patterns to API-driven web services.

The intended audience of this podcast is really us, since it came out of lunches that Larry and I were having at Out the Door in downtown San Francisco. We realized that, while a lot of what we were talking about might be interesting to a wider audience, more importantly, starting a podcast of our conversations would give us a great pretext to invite folks who are inspiring us with their work to come out for some daikon cakes and Vietnamese ice coffee (following in the steps of Peter Rukavina et al’s Live from the Formosa Tea House podcast of course).

This past week, Larry and I brought together Todd Ditchendorf of and Jon Crosby of and recently to discuss site-specific browsers and related trends in cloud computing.

Obviously the question looms large about the competition between the open web, Adobe’s AIR platform and Microsoft’s Silverlight framework. With both Adobe and Microsoft jockeying for supreme “open” status with their platforms, we need to start asking the question differently: it’s no longer about whether a platform is “open”, but who controls its features, its priorities, and to what degree it facilitates interoperability by supporting industry-wide non-proprietary standards. Of course there’s always going to be proprietary development leading the way ahead of open development, and that’s fine. The difference, however, is that efforts like Mozilla’s , Todd’s and Jon’s Kloudkit give us completely open stacks for implementing a lot of compelling ideas and features using tools and technologies without having to pick a corporate partner. They also provide us with the flexibility to innovate independently and see which ideas stick, while also pushing and pulling on the future of browser technology directly.

In any case, you should probably just listen to this episode and let us know what you think.

If you want to subscribe to Citizen Garden, you can grab listen in iTunes, grab our feed or follow Citizen Garden on Twitter.

Thoughts on Mozilla

You can now directly download the video or the audio.

Spurred by a conversation I had today, I thought I’d post some wide-ranging and very rough thoughts on Mozilla. They’re pretty raw and uncensored, and I go for about 50 minutes, but it might be somewhat thought-provoking. At the least, I’d love to hear your thoughts — in agreement or vehement disagreement. Educate me!

And, here are the basic notes I was working from:

  1. the future of the web: silverlight, apollo, JavaFX — where are you?? where’s mozilla’s platform for the future?
  2. build tools. xul tools are in the crapper. look at webkit and xcode.
  3. dump spreadfirefox; get your focus back. power to the people — not more centralization. where’s the college teams? run it like a presidential but stop asking for donations. events, mash pits… MozCamps… whatever… I know something is happening in Japan with Joi Ito… but that’s about all I know about.
  4. out reach… mitchell is out there… but i feel like, with all due respect, she’s too coy… i think segolene royale — who recently lost the french election set a very good example.
  5. and, the press have no idea what mozilla is up to… where the money’s going… there’s work and a roadmap for FF3… but it’s all about FF3.
  6. joe six pack is not your audience. look at africa, non-profits, international audiences. green audiences. MozillaWifi… work with Meraki networks! Firefox + Wifi in a box. Bring the web to everyone stop being a browser company.
  7. Mozilla the platform… stop thinking of yourself as a browser company. stop competing with flock. start promoting platform uses of mozilla and treat these folks like GOLD! think of joost and songbird. as Microsoft has done, build an ecosystem of Firefox browsers…! And build the platform of support to nurture them. Make it possible for people to build sustainable businesses on top of Mozilla… provide all that infrastructure and support!
  8. CivicForge… like an ethical Cambrian House… the new sourceforge that works for non-developers… where’s the mozilla social network? sure they’re on Facebook, but it feels like a chore.
  9. leadership opportunities… Boxely… microformats… openid…. start prepping web designers for HTML5 if that’s the future.
  10. IE has caught up in the basics. They have tabs. They fixed popups and spyware. Firefox as an idea can sell; as a browser, not so much.
  11. Browsers are dead. They’re not interesting. Back to Joe Six Pack… he doesn’t care about browsers. He’ll use whatever is pre-installed. Need to get Firefox on Dells.. on Ubuntu… on the Mac. Songbird too. OEM for Joe Six Pack.
  12. Browsers are a commodity. People are happy with Safari, Firefox 2 and IE7. What comes next goes beyond the browser — again, Adobe, Microsoft and Sun are all betting on this.
  13. mobile. minimo is used by whom?
  14. Firefox as a flag — as a sports team… rah… rah! where’s the rebel yell? where’s the risk? where’s the backbone? Why can’t Firefox stand for more than web standards and safety? I don’t think Mozilla can afford to be reluctant or to pull any punches. They need to come out swinging every time. And be New York’s Babe Ruth to IE’s Boston Red Sox.
  15. open source is immortal; it’s time that mozilla starting acting open source. at this point what DON’T they have to lose? the world is not the world of 2005. i want to know what the mozilla of 2010 looks like. we’re blake ross? where’s parakey? where’s joe hewitt? where’s dave barron? there’s so much talent at mozilla… are things really happening? thank god kaply is in charge of microformats now. (but, firefox is NOT an information broker!)
  16. lastly… great hope for the future of firefox, despite what sounds like negative commentary.

Another Flocker flies the coop

New Flockstar Swag

Word came out that Flock Community Ambassador Will Pate will be flying the coop and moving to a part time contract position, handing over much of the community management to Evan Hamilton.

Although Teh Flock claims support by such personalities as Borat (no comment), plans for the fabled One Dot Oh (so called Euphonia) remain obscure at best.

And while the latest nightlies suggest that there’s certainly been work going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to get a sense for where the product direction and vision are coming from.

In talking to Will, it seems the new CEO, Shawn Hardin, who took over from Bart Decrem in November, is taking his time to examine the environment and consider a path forward.

I’ve not yet had a chance to talk to Shawn about his plans, but I do hope that, with all the turmoil and turnover that Flock’s seen since its launch, he’s able to set a clear course and deliver on the promise and potential of the social browser.

Another interview with yours truly

If for some reason you’d like to put yourself through an actual podcast of me rambling on and on about crowdsourcing, , Flock and other open source goodness, take a listen. I also touch on community marks and other philosophical matters.

The Worldbridges folks were really kind to me (coming from New Hampshire and PEI) and I’d recommend that you take a look at their entire podcast series.

Former Flocker joins Automattic

Lloyd’s finally announced his new role with WordPress-shop Automattic after leaving Flock:

Today is my first day of every day being an Automattic day!

I am Automattic’s Entomology Assistant — their QA person: bug finder and describer, bug gardner, quality advisor, and QA community collaborator.

I am passionate and knowledge about many aspects of software development and support.

I have enjoyed getting familiar with WordPress since first starting with Flock (one of’s first partner) over a year ago, spending more time these last many months, and accelerating my experience these last few weeks. I know I have a special opportunity because I am one of Automattic’s few hires from outside of the core WordPress community.

I have never been so excited to work with each and every member of a team. I am enjoying learning from everyone!

Another fool leaves the Flock

Lloyd with a member of the Flock ... by Scott BealeThe title of this post might sound meaner than it really is, but I’m referring to the departure of Lloyd “Foolswisdom” Budd from Flock.

This is something I’ve known about for awhile (as well as Bart’s departure before it was made public), but Lloyd’s post does a pretty good job capturing what clearly was a tough decision with hundreds of photos from his stay at what some might call the yellow canary of Web 2.0.

Things for good for Lloyd and his new bride, however, and I’m excited to find out what’s next for them as they resettle in Victoria, BC.

And yeah, I presume that he’ll keep up with his masterful photography work and foodporn shots.

Termie flying the coop

Cubicle Surfing
Photo by Jesse Andrews.

Man, should I even bother mentioning that Andy “Termie” Smith and my ex-roommate is leaving Flock when he makes fun of me in his parting post?

Well, whatever… if I can’t get over my self-aggrandizement, I guess I never will. Fooey on my self-importance.

Welcome to the pool of sumblimators, Termie, and here’s to beating me out at the top of the Google pile of search results announcing the termination of our prior employment.

A lesson from game design

Spore preview
When I was at Flock, one of the things that I advocated for most vehemently was to take more inspiration from game design — to look to influences in , World of Warcraft, the The Sims and others to come up with novel approaches to socially browsing the web.

Well, Aaron Ruby, writing for NextGen, captures exactly what I wanted to add to the open source design process:

And that’s what game designers do: they create objects that invite play.

The Microsoft Office model of interface design no longer applies; rows of buttons simply aren’t fun and because they’re not fun they actually reduce focus and productivity.

Though there will continue to be a need for transitional browsers, I’m looking to games like Spore to set the stage for next generation interaction models and work/time flows.

A Flock podcast, changes therein; related tools

Dauphne -- the YouSpaceFlock browserGeoffrey “Fredo” Arone seems to be stepping up as the public voice of Flock now that he’s in the position of Chief Strategy Officer and Bart‘s taking on the more abstract role as chairman.

In a recent interview with Richard MacManus, Fredo talks about Flock someday becoming a mainstream browser alongside the likes of Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Not sure what I think about that — (sure, ok, whatev) — since I think Flock’d be wiser to try to build to an extremely dedicated niche audience and then work outwards from there — preferring slow but constant iterative growth, like the iPod found… as opposed to Tech Crunch boom-and-bust sign-up and vacate cycles betacoms have come to know and despise.

It’s good to hear, however, that with Erikka Arone, Apple’s former iPod Product Manager in the Worldwide Product Marketing Group, coming onboard as Flock’s Senior Director of Marketing, they’ll have some real experience in their court to help tailor whatever strategy they adopt.

Meanwhile, Flock will suffer another bummer of a loss this September when Lloyd, heretofore Flock’s most exceptional QA Lead and unofficial staff photographer, will migrate back home to Canada. Mum’s the word on his future plans, but at the least, it’s clear that the OSM looks after its own.

. . .

Oh, and for those interested, I found a couple stand-alone Mac apps that offer similar features to those already found in Flock:

Note that these don’t suggest that Flock’s a bad idea (it’s not), it’s important to be aware of what else is out there that might provide opportunities to learn from.