Mozilla Manifesto: FOSDEM summary

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Gervase Markham

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Feb 27, 2007, 11:22:48 AM2/27/07
to Mitchell Baker
This is the second message relating to the FOSDEM discussion; it's my
attempt to distil what was said down into a smaller number of points.

There was a fair amount of confusion as to the actual purpose of the
document. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to include
Mitchell's four goals:
http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2007/02/introducing_the_mozilla_manife.html
on the handout. But perhaps it's interesting that it was not obvious
from the document's contents. This confusion had several, more specific,
sub-confusions, such as the identity of the target audience(s).

There was much discussion about the concreteness vs. abstractness of the
text. Some thought it was too concrete, and some too abstract Perhaps
this was a reflection of the lack of clarity about the purpose.
Unfortunately, I did not carefully note which particular bits were
thought to be each; it might well be that the two viewpoints are
compatible. Given the variety and depth of views on this particular
point, perhaps this particular discussion needs to be had again, online,
where there is a better record.

There was support for the idea of splitting the document into a
"time-independent" part containing the principles, and a "current" part
containing the Mozilla Foundation pledge, which might annotate the
principles and show how it relates to them.

It needs to be more clear exactly what people are agreeing to when they
support the Manifesto. Is it only the 10 points, or the vision, or
something else? This could be achieved by the above-mentioned split.

It might be useful to place ourselves in the shoes of the owners of
various businesses, both close to us and far away (e.g. Flock, Opera, a
Gecko embedder, Sun, a random bank, a web design company, an online
retailer, Fotango) to see what might prevent each signing up to the
principles, and whether that thing is an unfortunate accident or by
design. For example, Simon Wardley of Fotango (a web services company)
said he would find it hard to sign up to Principle 10. Is that
intentional? Maybe.

Principle 3 ("The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human
beings") caused a certain amount of discussion, prompted by Gijs'
suggestion that it was unnecessary. I think the majority view was that,
while it's true that not many people would disagree with it, it's still
a worthwhile statement to make.

The relationship of the Foundation, the Manifesto, and the Internet we
want, to free software and closed source software was also discussed.
Some feel the document should contain a stronger statement of our
collective belief that open source is the best way to do software should
be present. Others felt that we also need to articulate where closed
source software fits into our future vision, if anywhere.

This is a difficult circle to square; we believe that free software is
better, and yet we have a license which specifically permits partly
proprietary products.

It was felt that we could usefully speak more about community and less
about individuality in the Principles. This would also make the document
more relevant to cultures where there is not such a focus on the individual.

Lastly, we should consider whether we should frame the Principles such
that they lead to a Pledge to do no harm with software patents (or not
take them out at all).

Gerv

Iang

unread,
Feb 27, 2007, 1:22:39 PM2/27/07
to Gervase Markham, Mitchell Baker, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
Good set of notes!


Gervase Markham wrote:
> This is the second message relating to the FOSDEM discussion; it's my
> attempt to distil what was said down into a smaller number of points.
>
> There was a fair amount of confusion as to the actual purpose of the
> document. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to include
> Mitchell's four goals:
> http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2007/02/introducing_the_mozilla_manife.html


Having read that, I agree, as I for one was looking for
something else. My major confusion was that I thought the
document was for Mozilla, not for anyone else.

If it is for everyone, then there is a risk that it would
have to be watered down to the lowest common denominator.
It might end up being a statement that offends no-one, and
pleases no-one.

> It might be useful to place ourselves in the shoes of the owners of
> various businesses, both close to us and far away (e.g. Flock, Opera, a
> Gecko embedder, Sun, a random bank, a web design company, an online
> retailer, Fotango) to see what might prevent each signing up to the
> principles, and whether that thing is an unfortunate accident or by
> design. For example, Simon Wardley of Fotango (a web services company)
> said he would find it hard to sign up to Principle 10. Is that
> intentional? Maybe.

Good luck :)

Perhaps it might be useful to create a proto-Manifesto that
even enemies can happily sign up to. By way of specious
example, a bank and a foreclosed house ex-owner, Bush and
Ahmadinejad, the spooks and the terrorists, Limewire and
RIAA, Las Vegas and Antigua, Bill Gates and Richard Stallman ...

Everyone is a user, every user is a stakeholder, no matter
what the size of their stake. Taking a position on the
above conflicts is the same as taking a position on the
patent wars ... it's taking a position that is outside the
strict domain of writing good software.

iang

Robert Kaiser

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Feb 27, 2007, 1:33:17 PM2/27/07
to
Gervase Markham schrieb:

> Principle 3 ("The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human
> beings") caused a certain amount of discussion, prompted by Gijs'
> suggestion that it was unnecessary. I think the majority view was that,
> while it's true that not many people would disagree with it, it's still
> a worthwhile statement to make.

The discussion showed some need for making clearer what this really does
mean - almost everything done will probably always enrich the lives of
_some_ individual human beings. So what do actually want to say with that?

Robert Kaiser

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