Today is a special day.
March 31, 1998 is the date that Mozilla was officially launched. It's the date the first Mozilla code became publicly available under the terms of an official open source license and a governing body for the project — the Mozilla Organization — began its public work. It's always been known in Mozilla parlance as "3/31." We'll be celebrating Mozilla's 10 year anniversary throughout 2008. Today I want to look at our first ten years, and a bit at the next ten years.
Ten years ago a radical idea took shape. The idea was that an open source community could create choice and innovation in key Internet technologies where large, commercial vendors could not. This idea took shape as the Mozilla project.
Mozilla was not the first group to pursue this idea. GNU/Linux and the BSD operating systems were already providing a very effective alternative at the server-side operating system level; the Apache web server was already proving that an open source solution could be effective even in areas where the commercial players were actively competing. Each of these gave strength to the idea that this new effort could be successful.
At its inception, Mozilla was:
During the years since 3/31 we have taken that radical idea and proved its power. We have broadened the idea beyond anything imagined at our founding. And in the next ten years we'll continue to be radical about building fundamental qualities such as openness, participation, opportunity, choice and innovation into the basic infrastructure of the Internet itself.
That's a lot. And we're not done yet. The next ten years have challenges and opportunities equal to those of our first decade. The Internet is now interwoven into modern life, and it will certainly grow to be more powerful. There's no guarantee that it will remain open or enjoyable or safe. There's no guarantee that individuals will be able to participate in creating or (for the general non-technical consumer) effectively managing their experience. There's no guarantee that there is an effective voice for individuals benefiting from the increased power of the Internet .
Mozilla can and should fulfill this role. But not as a guarantor. Mozilla is an opportunity for people to make this vision happen. Mozilla is about opportunity and participation. Mozilla is people getting involved, "doing" things, creating the Internet experience we want to live with. We're not alone in doing this. Other open source and free software projects play a strong role, as do other organizations focused on participation, collaboration and openness in areas other than software development.
We want the Internet to be an open environment, where it's easy to innovate, and where individuals, small groups and newcomers all have rich opportunities to create and lead. So, we'll build technologies and products that make this happen. Mozilla offers each person who wants to see this happen an opportunity to do something. Using Mozilla products is an important step in its own right — every person using Mozilla products makes our voice stronger. And there is much, much more that any one of us can do.
And these are just the things we can see today. Many of the best, most exciting activities of the next ten years will seem to come from nowhere. In reality they will come from people combining their own ingenuity with Mozilla tools, techniques, technologies to build new, wildly innovative aspects to life that none of us can imagine today. And because the Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization we are focused on creating the maximum possible public benefit rather than revenue. We're able to provide maximum support to the broadest range of activities. We don't limit how people can use our technology to maximize revenue; we encourage people to challenge us.
During much of our first ten years people "knew" that our goal of creating choice and innovation in the browser space was impossible. From that perspective we have achieved the impossible. It certainly wasn't easy, but here we are today in a radically different setting.
The challenges before us are great. But the opportunity is many times larger. We have the ability to affect aspects of Internet architecture and user experience. We have the organization, we have the frameworks we need to work in, we have the voice. And most important of all, we have the Mozilla community. The many thousands of people actively engaged, and the multiples of that who support Mozilla goals and offerings.
It's our world. Let's make it great. Here's to another 10 years!
- Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler