Saturday, April 12, 2014

What is Mozilla for a contributor?

Reading about the current happenings at Mozilla headquarters, I ask myself, "do this matter to me as a contributor to the Mozilla project sitting on the other side of the world?". Below are more questions that came to my mind and what I think about it:

"what is Mozilla for me"
To me, Mozilla is a community, a movement, where a group of people who are together to support the mission. To take this mission forward there are products/projects like Firefox, Webmaker and other. As a project, Mozilla has made big impact in building a better web for all. For a movement of this scale to run, there is a need of people who can work on full time on it, that is where I see the company/staff as part of the community. The staff, the company are there to support the community, the mission and not the other way around.

"why I contribute"  

As a community member living 8500 miles away from where the Mozilla headquarters is based, and the rest of the community spread across the world, the only reason for contributing to the project is because of the community and its mission. This is the most diverse global community that I got to be part of. There are probably several number of things to agree and disagree among us(the community members) outside of the Mozilla cause, but that is not why we are in the community.

"who should be my leader"
As a community member, I look for a leader who understands the cause, who can lead the community forward and help build things to achieve the Open Web. Someone who can fight against issues like NSA where they are making a mockery of citizens privacy and security. What that leader does outside of the community is none of my business. I believe the Mozilla community has lost one such leader - Brendan Eich, who has co-founded Mozilla and worked hard(16 years) to build the mission.

'Many Voices, One Mozilla'
At Mozilla, our goal is to reach Million Mozillians. If we want to reach this goal, we should not lose focus of who we are.  If there is anyone that we should listen to, it is our community and our users/ share holders. For Mozilla to be relevant for next 100 years and do good, it should be about the community and its mission.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

An encounter with Mahatma Gandhi during Mozilla Summit 2013

As a contributor for the Mozilla project, I was invited to participate at Mozilla Summit that happened in California recently. There is a LOT to get excited and share about Mozilla Summit. You can find many experiences shared on the Web, to share a few, you may read it from here, here, here, here and here. In this post I will share a short personal anecdote that happened with me during the summit.

My cousin brother, Goutham got into a flight to US at the same time I got into a flight to back home in 2010. Knowing that I will be in Bay area that weekend, Goutham came all the way from LA to meet me. We had a quick chat on Friday night, he invited me to a party that he and his friends were hosting at San Francisco on Saturday.

While most of the community members went to Great America after dinner, I took a short nap and then went to San Francisco around 11.00 PM, one of Goutham's friend came to pickup. The party was at Ferry building with Bay Bridge as the backdrop, it was quite a view. We had good fun till late AM. The car was parked on the other side of the road, while we were walking past the Ferry plaza, there I saw the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi Statue at San Francisco Ferry Terminal

Photo courtesy: 

Staring at the statue, thinking of the kind of impact he had made on the world, it was a short moment of introspection. 'Will I be able to make an impact?'  

Next day, it was a grand closure of the fantastic summit. At this time something amazing was announced - Mozilla is building a monument in front of the Mozilla San Francisco office and it will be filled with names of all the contributors of the project.
Proposed Monument to Mozillians outside Mozilla's San Francisco office
To me, this tells the impact a community has made and the individuals as part of a community. In this fast paced world, how often do we get to improve peoples lives through little contributions? how often do we get to make an positive impact through our work, big or small? This monument is a representation of a movement.

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." - Mahatma Gandhi

In-front of the yet to be unveiled monument..

Monday, March 18, 2013

Community Catalyst

In my nearly 5 years of contributions to Mozilla, one thing remained at the core is community. When I first came across the Mozilla community, at that time open source or why internet matters was not something that I would care, nor the friends, people around me locally. Coming from a place where the first question people ask is "what do you get?". It was difficult for me to understand why one would spend their time and energy spreading the word about a company and go beyond their way to do things. The people I saw were doing it for fun, for themselves. One thing that caught me was the passion with which this group of people are working towards something, may be something big.

Recently I participated at Webmaker Reps Training Days. Around 40 Mozilla Reps from across the world came together to participate in the Training days. On the first day we participated at Hive Athens event. After the lunch the reps had free time, most went for a walk in the city. Me and a few reps remained at the Hive event.

Those of us who were at the venue, after the event we were making arrangements in the next hall for the next day training session. We were moving tables, screens, chairs, speakers to this new hall. At this time I met, Luis Sanchez from Mexico. When asked Luis if he knew Ricardo Meza from Mexico, he said yes. Luis started telling about Ricardo that he was the one who started the Mozilla Mexico community and did many outreach work. I told Luis that Ricardo was one of the Mozillian's who inspired me while getting started in the community and also helped as a guide.
Coming from a non open source background, I did not had any role models to look up to in this area. The only people who motivated me to be in the community were the community members itself. Ricardo Meza was doing all fancy Mozilla events, with huge audience at big conference halls, large banners, wearing Mozilla t-shirt all the time. The Mexico community had a cool website, there were several activities going on.
Ricardo Meza at Campus Party, Mexico
The thought was like "will i be able to do things like this one day?" At that time, I was not even close to the thinking of what these community members were able to do. May be now a bit close. Now, once in a while when a community member say that they look-up to me/ my activity, I welcome the fact and understand what it means, encouraging them to be the same, one day to experience it. This is a community cycle that I believe in. 

Luis and me continued the conversation, the later part of the conversation reminded me of my roots in the community.
Luis showed the Firefox lanyard that he was wearing and said: "Ricardo introduced me to the Mozilla community, this lanyard is given to me by Ricardo".
I asked: "do you mean you got your first lanyard from Ricardo?",
Luis: "yes and this is the one given by Ricardo.., around 4-5 years ago.."

For a moment I went silent.

I asked, "is this like sentiment?"
Luis: "yes".

Asked if I can take a picture of him, to which this is the pose he gave:
Luis Sanchez, Mexico
Then he took a picture of me saying 'hi' to show it back to Ricardo.
Vineel saying 'hi' to Ricardo
There is this belongingness and shared emotion that enables transfer of values through effective communication that is behind the strong community. This is one of the layers that I experienced with the Mozilla community recently. What layers of the community have you experienced? Who are the people who inspired you in the community? What do you think is the catalyst behind the strong community? What is your favorite community story? I'm sure there are stories like this everywhere in the community, I'd love to read yours.