Most people know Mozilla as the company that produces Mozilla Firefox, but they do so much more beyond product development and tech innovation. But let’s focus on the tech innovation for a second.

The pace at which the web evolves is accelerating. This creates problems with adoption on the side of consumers as well as software developers. In the past few years, the pace of browser development has become a major bottleneck to innovation. To solve this problem, Google stopped telling people about new versions of Chrome so they could update it every few minutes (kinda like facebook.) This strategy of web-speed browser innovation was adopted by Mozilla via the Firefox rapid release cycle. A new version of Firefox is now released every six weeks.

This means that web developers downstream have more and faster access to new tools and capabilities than ever before. Let me restate this: because of Google Chrome (a shoutout to webkit fanbois!) and Mozilla Firefox, web innovation is about to explode like never before.

Take a moment to let it sink in.

So here’s a list of significant projects  and discussions happening right now at Mozilla.

Web Platform Projects

  • BrowserID – You know how logging into Facebook logs you into everything else? This is a great prototype for a better web experience, but it’s a privacy and security nightmare! BrowserID will fix that by moving your identity back into your hands.
  • Apps – Building upon Google’s work with Google Chrome Apps and to potentially turn every website into an app, and the entire internet into an app store. (If we appify our online profiles, every person will have an app that is also an app store. Woah…)
  • Mobile – Firefox everywhere! Android, iOS, Windows Phone..
  • Boot to Gecko (B2G) - The preliminary work for booting into a pure web operating system.
  • WebAPI – Expands the capabilities of the web in exciting ways.
  • Web Activites/Intents –  Potentially the most disruptive project on this list. Mozilla’s working with the Google Chrome peeps on this one.
I’ll be exploring how some of this comes together and changes our lives in future posts.
Community/Media Projects
  • WebFWD – Mozilla’s technology incubator. And definitely check out the biotech startup they’re incubating.
  • Partnership with the Knight Foundation - Multiple projects. This is huge.
  • Popcorn.js – Everyone keeps framing the future of video as AppleTV vs GoogleTV vs xBox Live. It’s all the same ‘ol bringing the web to TV and/or TV to the web. BORING! What happens when web and game development tools merge the real-time web and data visualization into video production tools? Nothing we’ve ever experienced before.. that’s for sure!

Notable Mozilla Community Discussions (the most important links in this blog post)

Mozilla 2012 – Draft Strategy Deck from Mark Surman on Vimeo.

All this is really awesome stuff! However, I see a few blaring gaps given some of the other trends I track. And since I can’t help myself…

  • Group Identity Standards – Actually, is anyone on the web tackling this? We need to figure this out before the the decentralized federated social web solidifies or else we’ll have a huge headache on our hands. Besides, OpenID+OpenGroupID+oAuth + magic = a permissions system for the web. (chmod 664 Mailchimp.com) (Let’s move social web standards into the linux kernal!)
  • More partnerships – It’s the 21st century. Organizations are like code. Reuse reuse reuse! http://thesmallbusinessweb.com/ for example could represent an opportunity to disrupt the Google Apps dashboard via open web apps + web activities/intents + group identity.
  • Cloud computing – There’s so much going on here.. beyond Firefox Sync, how does cloud computing impact Mozilla’s mission? How can cloud computing infrastructure management change given Mozilla’s current tech roadmap?
  • Hardware – Now that Mozilla is flirting with operating system development, it’s time to explore the whole technology stack. What happens when we redesign the BIOS around the assumptions of local area+world wide cloud computing infrastructure? (And where’s my offline Facebook stream? The Australian outback will be revolutionized by social mesh computing!)
  • Virtualization – If Mozilla’s activities cover operating system development, hardware development and the cloud, what does virtualization bring to the mix? What exciting things can happen when we have high performance B2G virtual machines that move between local hardware and the cloud without us even noticing?
  • Internet of Things – Sensorwebs are in, but they’re not accessible to the masses. Mozilla should go hard on Arduino. Google has the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. Screw that! Let’s jump past this by absorbing its’ scope into WebAPIs roadmap. Figuring this out brings us close to federated augmented reality land! (3d printed robots powered by xbox kinect and Amazon’s kindle EVERYWHERE!!)
  • Processing – At the intersection of art (Knight Foundation), education (HiveNYC, School of Webcraft, etc), the internet of things and computer science learning is the Processing programming language. Mozilla should support the development of an arduino sdk based on processing.js and curricula/games around Processing in general. Check out these three posts on the Modk.it blog to see why I think this is so essential. You just can’t beat kids visually programming firmware via cloud based IDE! (2018: The global economy is saved by a robot uprising orchestrated by 10 year old homeschooled web makers who have taken over the wastelands formerly known as “Wall Street” and “Academia. In other news, Calvin Klein releases controversial node.js-based fashion line backed by ‘rehabilitated’ chinese WOW gold farmers.”)
  • I’ll stop here for now. Consider yourselves lucky.
Sooo.. how does all this impact tech literacy? And how can we use technology development roadmaps to inform roadmaps for community development and educational efforts? Most importantly, how can we turn this into a two way feedback loop? I’ll be blogging about all of these ideas in more detail over the coming weeks/months.