Chatting with the Chief Lizard Wrangler – Mitchell Baker [#drumbeat]

Well chatting suggests I opened my mouth which I obviously didn’t but it was worthy hour of my life listening in.

One of things she opened her discussions with is the lack of a short, sharp elevator pitch for the wider aims of the Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Manifesto is worthy but too big and doesn’t speak to the general public (it also didn’t come into existence until the Firefox was well established which I didn’t know). The recent talk about the ‘open web’ helps in some ways but as no one can agree what that means it brings it’s own set of problems! They’d like something along the lines of “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it” that Make Magazine use but so far have not been able to boil it down (in any language!)

Talk about sovereignty over personal technology and being a citizen of the web is too heavy for your standard Firefox user just trying to check his or her Facebook page!

I liked the talk about the browser being your house on the web and with Firefox you have the keys and own he place but with other browsers and tools you are just a lodger. If they could get e right message there are 400 million users to speak to!

There was a lot of talk about the issues of who controls identity on the web and how dangerous it is that Facebook Connect is becoming the default and that there needs to be an easier neutral option to handle all of that.

It was very interesting to hear about the potential split in the community between the old guard free software advocates and the more mainstream Mozillians over the issue of creating a marketplace/app store that allows people to sell their plugins etc – the old school see this as a betrayal of their beliefs and on the other side they are looking for a way to let people earn a living from their skills in a more direct way.

The conversation did take a detour to talk around mobile – the interesting element of that was the idea that maybe the only way for truly open mobile was to control everything from the chipset up and that wasn’t a route Mozilla fancied (yet!)

It was also interesting to hear that people hold Mozilla to a higher standard because of their non-profit status and this is challenging to manage sometimes as they try to innovate and maintain a strong position in the consumer internet marketplace.

It was amazing to have that kind of informal access to someone of her status and was another example of how amazing this conference has been so far.