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Mozilla Summit 2010 Recap

The Mozilla Summit far surpassed my expectations. The event was personal, technical, creative and inspiring all at once.

Mozilla Summit 2010 Banner
The Mozilla Summit is an invitation-only gathering of some of the most active contributors in the Mozilla community. This year's theme was "Be More Like the Web".

I was lucky enough to be among those who were invited, due to my involvement with the Drumbeat project. There were a total of around 600 Mozilla community members at the event: hackers, localizers, testers, marketers, and the individuals formerly known as 'users'.

Mozilla Firefox Logo


Mozilla is most well known for the open source browser, Firefox. In addition to Firefox, there are number of other software projects like Jetpack at Mozilla Labs. Although Mozilla has been incredibly successful with open source software, they're ambitious and ready for the next big challenge. As stewards of the open web, Mozillians around the world are banding together through Drumbeat: a collection of practical projects and local events that gather smart, creative people around big ideas that improve the open web. The Summit was our forum to share the project with the greater Mozilla community.

Day 0: Arrival & Reception

I flew in from Alaska, direct from my family vacation to Vancouver and then hopped on a bus to Whistler, BC. I arrived on Tuesday afternoon just in time to join the Mozilla Foundation meeting and presenter's workshop. I spent the better part of the afternoon working on a speed geek with my new partner in crime at P2PU, Pippa Buchanan. We rehearsed our talk a few times and got valuable feedback for the next day.

The rest of the attendees arrived in time for a reception, where we had a chance to get to know each other and kick off the event properly.

Day 1: Getting Started

The day started off early with a few inspiring keynote speakers and an extended lunch break to watch some of the World Cup. After lunch I headed to a session from Mozilla Messaging where they demoed experimental Thunderbird mail client features.

John Britton and Pippa Buchanan Throwing Down the Webcraft Gang SignPhoto CC-BY-NC-SA, Nathaniel James
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<p>The next session was "Drumbeat in 2100 Seconds," led by <a href="http://commonspace.wordpress.com/">Mark Surman</a>, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation. Mark took about four minutes to describe Drumbeat and why it is important to Mozilla before splitting the crowd into groups for the speed geek sessions. All three of the featured Drumbeat projects (<a href="http://www.drumbeat.org/p2pu-webcraft">P2PU School of Webcraft</a>, <a href="http://www.drumbeat.org/webmademovies">Web Made Movies</a>, &amp <a href="http://www.drumbeat.org/universal-subtitles">Universal Subtitles</a>) were represented along with Drumbeat Events and a couple others. The speed geek session went really well; we got a few people to join the project.</p>

Day 2: In the Groove

The second day was filled with more sessions, and some especially interesting HTML5 demos including WebGL and the <audio> and <video> tags. I had a chance to talk to Ben Moskowitz about open video and the upcoming Open Video Conference in New York City.

The Flight of the Navigator is a WebGL demo rendered in the browser that built by the Mozilla audio team. The demo pulls in live data and video from the web while rendering. Everyone in the crowd was awe-struck.

I spent the better part of the afternoon at the Summit Science Fair. There were around thirty individual booths showcasing all kinds of software. Everything from accessibility for the blind to a JavaScript framework for building Firefox extensions.

Science FairPhoto CC-BY-NC-SA, Michael Morgan

We rounded out the day with the Summit World Expo and International Dinner, where representatives from the over forty countries in attendance showcased their local communities and cultures.

After dinner, there was a late night JetPack hackathon. I built a Firefox extension (more details in a later blog post) in just a few hours. The extension is called 'Clickable Phone Numbers' and it makes any number on the web into a click-to-call number using the Twilio API.

Day 3: Grand Finale

The final day of the conference was a bit more laid back, we talked about the Drumbeat event strategy and did a bit of planning for Drumbeat NYC (August 7th) and the Drumbeat Festival (November 3-5) which is going to be held in Barcelona. I attended a few more lightning talks and a session on the future of client-side debugging.

Pippa and I ran our session on the P2PU School of Webcraft. There was a 10 minute intro, and then we split the audience into four groups with tasks:

  1. Design a course for P2PU School of Webcraft
  2. Brainstorm a list of core web developer skills
  3. Brainstorm a list of 'soft-skills' that employers look for in web developers
  4. Come up with ways to legitimize P2PU School of Webcraft so that we have some 'street-cred'

The session went incredibly well, so well that we had a lineup of people to talk to for almost 30 minutes after it was over.

John and Ben with the Summit Mascots

At the end of the day, we took a Gondola ride up to the peak for a farewell party of sorts. The views of Whistler were magnificent and the "Army of Awesome" was incredibly fun. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, cartoony mascots, toasts, and a dance party before calling it a night.

Day 4: Departure

We left Whistler by bus through the mountains, luckily unobstructed by rock slides. Now I'm on the ground in Seattle for the next week, followed by a trip to Portland for OSCON. Get in touch if you're nearby.

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