I’ve attended a few unconferences in the last few years (unfortunately missing BIL recently). On every occasion, I’ve found that the spontaneous nature of the events combined with the willingness of people to just get together to do something has led to a fulfilling time for everyone.
After I went to BarCampBlock this last year, I asked around at MoCo about whether we helped organize events like that. I was told about the various Developer Days that had occurred and even the Firefox Summits (see 2005 and 2006 notes).
The Developer Days are probably closest to the idea of what I had been thinking of but these were really oriented towards the development community, specifically, and not the Mozilla Community in general. While there are plenty of people who think, perhaps, that the developers are the primary Mozilla community, I tend to think of the community as being much larger than that. Part of this is an outgrowth of working in QA at MoCo and elsewhere and never having been a developer for a project in which I’ve been involved. Part of it is also from interacting with a lot of people working with Firefox or Mozilla technologies who are often webmasters or web developers along with just interested parties and users who help do QA work on releases.
The last Developer Day was a year ago this month and I know of no current dates for another one to occur (but I bet people are thinking about it). Given that people are working hard on getting Firefox 3 out the door, it isn’t surprising that a new one has not been scheduled yet. I’d like to see an event, sometime by the end of summer, that is more loosely organized than the typical Developer Days to incorporate more members of the Mozilla Community. This isn’t to exclude developers because, realistically, I would expect them to make up a sizable portion, perhaps even the majority, of participants in any event. It is more along the lines of trying to cast a wider net and be more inclusive in intent from the very beginning.
The event that I would like to see happen, let’s call it “MozCamp” for lack of a better term, would be in the Bay Area. This is for the simple fact that the critical mass of interested parties is probably already in the area, as that is where MoCo, Songbird, Flock, and a variety of other interested organizations already exist along with a huge base of other people who may want to attend this kind of event. In order to do an event like this, a space would need to be found, hopefully with a network connection. If enough interest is shown by people early on, I don’t expect getting a space to be a problem but it could take a little organization. I’d be happy to participate in this but it would probably be entirely overwhelming to do by my lonesome. There are also the details of trying to coordinate any network, the potential for some food (maybe lunch), etc. This is all do-able and people do it all of the time but it takes time and energy (and perhaps a little money) from people.
If you think that an event like this would be of interest for you in or you would like to be involved or help, please let me know. Right now, after talking to a few people, I’m thinking of doing this in July or August. Doing it earlier may result in less participation as a lot of people are heads down on all of the events around shipping Firefox 3 and immediately following that.
You can leave comments here on the blog or send e-mail to “albill” at this domain. There is always the possibility that I’m overestimating interest from other parties and that people wouldn’t want to attend but I really doubt that this is the case. If the feedback is negative or enough people aren’t interested, I’ll drop the idea for now but I think that it could be fun, even if only as a single day event.
The question of the sessions to be done and whether it is a simple one day event or a whole weekend are things that I’ll leave aside until it is clear whether there is interest. I would, personally, like to see ways that people are using Mozilla technologies (not just Firefox) in creative ways, how they are developing communities or useful tools with extensions, and similar things. It would be nice for people from, say, Songbird, to present on their work, etc. I leave it completely open.
Needless to say, at this point, this is an Al sponsored event, not a MoCo event. I certainly wouldn’t turn down involvement by MoCo or other organizations but I’m only mentioning this out of my own desire to see an open event happen without trying to predetermine its content or who will be involved. I haven’t cleared or vetted this with anyone except mentioning to Paul Kim in passing that I may blog about something like this. I leave it up to people to vote with their feet within the Mozilla Community and I am completely open to the potential for failure here.
Let’s see what happens.
Updated: I’ve updated the dates after talking to a few people that were concerned about the stress of possibly planning or attending an event while all of the activities around the shipping of Firefox 3 were occurring. Let’s not stress anyone out!