Today Mark Surman and I had the pleasure of taking part in the start of the Course on Mozilla education and Technologies @ Evry (CoMeTe for short) in France. We each gave a talk via video link to the assembled professors, students, and industry partners. It was very exciting to see all the hard work that Didier Courtaud and others have done to get the program off the ground. We are really looking forward to helping their 31 students get started working on Mozilla projects, and to help them join the Mozilla community.
The event also gave me yet another unique experience doing a remote talk. I’ve done a number of them as part of various Mozilla Education events and courses. In every case I’ve walked away feeling like there is still so much room for this technology to improve. Want to talk to someone on the other side of the world with video/audio? Solved. Want to share your slides with people via the web? Solved. Want to do both at once? Lots of people will tell you this is “solved” but my experience using both open and closed solutions (some very expensive ones, I might add) is that they all have a long way to go.
Today as I wrapped-up my talk, I asked the students in France if they felt nervous or excited, or just what their response to getting started on something as big as Mozilla was. One student said that he felt unsure about what he might work on, that he was unclear what sorts of things you could do or contribute personally. This is a common reaction I hear, and not just from students. I plan to write about it at length in the coming weeks, but for now I’ll repeat my answer to him: Mozilla is the business of transforming passion into open products and tools. Some people work on scripting languages, some people in native code, some people on compilers, some people on tools, some people on technical documentation, some people on translation, some people on graphic design, … the list of topics is very wide, and just as deep. For the most part working on Mozilla is less about changing yourself into something else, and more about leveraging the skills and interests you already have. It’s an ecosystem of technologies, projects, and people, and they are all driven by passion. That’s where you begin. What’s your passion?