February, 2008

Feb 08

Mozilla Messaging Launch

Check out David Ascher’s blog, where he’s launched Mozilla Messaging, the new Mozilla company (a subsidiary of the Foundation, and a sibling company of MoCo) that’s focusing on how we communicate with one another. I’ll be very candid and say that I think this is both a very tough job and an amazing opportunity — and that there are lots of reasons it may not work in terms of revitalizing mail (both Thunderbird and mail overall, which David’s done a good job framing in his post). But I’m also very optimistic about the new venture and that we’ve put together a group of people — David and Dan, among others, who are very smart, very dedicated, and are committed to rethinking communications from the ground up.

They’ve got a near term roadmap starting to develop that should make Thunderbird even more useful for a large variety of people (search improvements) and significantly more suitable for enterprise deployments (inclusion of calendar).

I’m really excited that the effort is starting to make progress, to hire, to build a team, and to articulate a positive vision for what mail can be. This is a story that will get written over a period of years, built on the very good foundation of Thunderbird, but with much left to go. I’m hopeful and optimistic that it will result in a great series of software releases, but also in a vital, energetic, creative community thinking about how to improve the way that human beings communicate, and making those visions real.

Feb 08

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Great book; quick to read; great follow up to The Omnivore’s Dilemma. To quote Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s mostly what the book is about — it’s a critique of nutritionism and the way that we eat so much processed food today. Has had a profound impact on the way I think about the food that I eat — in the category of things I probably already knew but hadn’t read together like this — and is slowly having that same impact on the food that I actually do eat. Great book.

Feb 08

The Great Upheaval, by Jay Winik

I really enjoyed Jay Winik’s last book, April 1865, so was super-excited to see this book come out, even though I had just recently finished American Creation, by Joe Ellis, and in spite of the fact that it weighed in at 688 pages (or about 11,000 Kindle locations, for those of you following along at home). It took me a few weeks to get through, but was really worth it — I enjoyed it a bunch. The writing wasn’t, I think, the best part — it was a little repetitious — but the research and the weaving together of a complicated global story of the 1790s in America, Europe and Russia, is amazing & masterful.

Winik’s basic premise is that we often see the history of the 1790s — a period in which much of the world was questioning the right of kings & queens, and moving boldly towards democracy (although not without some reversals) — as a set of mostly independent histories: the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the reign of Catherine the Great, …

But in truth it was a hyper-connected time, with notables like Thomas Paine, Thaddeus Kosiuszko, and and Lafayette moving from one hot spot to another around the globe, in which kings and queens were more often than not related to each other, and in which the ideas of the Enlightenment spread like fire around the world. That the events in America affected France (and vice versa) is well known & well understood — that they were intertwined with some of the things happening in broader Europe, including Poland and Russia, was learning for me.

Anyway, I thought this book was great, and worth the time it took to read it. I’ll look forward to his next book. (And I’m going to take a break from the late 1700s for a while myself.)