2008-11-17

Working at >Play

Saturday I staffed the Mozilla Labs booth at the >play conference expo along with my colleagues Atul Varma (who also blogged about it) and Jay Patel.  The event went really well, with a steady stream of visitors to our booth who were curious about Mozilla Labs projects and Mozilla in general.

Profit is not a Four Letter Word Here

I noticed early on that my standard spiel about Mozilla being nonprofit wasn't having the effect it normally has.  Usually people nod approvingly when I explain that we are a mission-driven organization and community, but this time I was getting blank stares or even slight airs of disapproval.

I suppose that's because the conference was sponsored by a business school, and its attendees are mostly aspiring businesspeople, so nonprofit endeavors like ours don't have the same cachet they do amongst the web and open source hackers I usually meet at conferences.

The Pitches & Audience Reactions

Nevertheless, everyone was really friendly and positive about Firefox, and many of them had heard of at least some of the labs projects we were demoing (Weave, Ubiquity, Snowl, and the Concept Series, among others).

Everyone I asked also knew what open source was, and they were overall very positive about our plan to get more designers involved in open source development through the Concept Series.

And the booth duty was great for refining my descriptions of those projects.  There's nothing like saying the same thing over and over again to separate the essence of the point from the redundant, misunderstood, or just plain unnecessary cruft.  By the middle of the day, my pitches were crisp and tight.

Miscellaneous Firefox Feedback

One visitor told me he switched back to Safari because it lets him email a whole page (not just a link) with one click.

Another attendee asked for a lighter-weight variant of the master password feature that protects Show Passwords in the Saved Passwords dialog but doesn't prompt you to enter the master password each session, so you can protect your passwords from being retrieved by others without the annoyance of having to enter the master every time you restart your browser.

A third person asked for a way to see only unvisited search results when searching the web, so he can check occasionally to see if there's new information about a search term without having to scroll through all the stuff he's already seen.

And a professor suggested we could grow marketshare among students by pitching Firefox as the best browser for the popular iLearn online education software, as she solves many of her students' problems accessing her online classes by getting them to switch browsers.

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