Oct 07

Mozilla, Firefox, and China (谋智,火狐,中国)

We have so many things going on at Mozilla that it’s tough to keep track of them all — and by personality, I tend to focus on all the areas that need work, more than I focus on all the stuff that’s working great. (for confirmation, check this recent post.)

So it really cheered me up today to see Li’s post about the Mozilla Manifesto translated into Chinese.

Our work in China is something that’s gone incredibly well this year — at the start of this year we had a very small market share there (something like 0.5%), and no team really focusing on it (but a community that was ready to be energized). But Li is doing great — we’ve got an office and a small full-time team working hard now, we’re working hard to engage the community, and our market share has at least tripled, to something between 1.5% and 2%. This is really good news, because getting to 5 or 6% market share will mean that a whole lot more sites in China will start testing against and working with Firefox.

I personally have learned a ton about China through this work — have gotten to go meet some interesting and amazing folks (including our own team there) 3 times, and am looking forward to more visits. Notwithstanding ongoing weirdness with redirects there, the Chinese consumer Internet is being shaped right now, and I’m excited we have an opportunity to make a difference.

I’m going to be incredibly interested to watch reaction to the Mozilla Manifesto there.

Oct 07

awesome blog on china

i’ve been reading rebecca mackinnon’s blog since meeting her in Dalian a couple of months ago. she’s currently a professor of journalism in Hong Kong, and has a long history of work in Asia. great, great stuff on her blog. i particularly like these two recent entries:

China’s Censorship 2.0

Eating River Crab at the Harmonious Forum (this is an absolutely delightful must-read piece)

she also wrote something about one of the most interesting sessions in Dalian with Tom Friedman and some leaders of Chinese government and industry.

Sep 07

China Road, by Rob Gifford

Great, great book. Everyone interested in China should read it. Written by an NPR correspondent who’s reported from Beijing for 6 years, it’s a really good bit of insight into what’s happening in China now and why. The book jacket reads a bit like a travel book: the frame of the story is 2 trips that Rob took on China’s Route 312, and East-West highway that stretches from Shanghai on the East all the way through Urumqi and into Kazakhstan in the West.

But it’s a lot more than that; it’s a look into the mass migration that’s happening in China from rural areas into cities, and from the relatively underdeveloped West to the coastal East of Beijing, Shanghai & Shenzen. He likens it to the travels of the Okies written about by Steinbeck.

He also gives quite a lot of historical context as he travels through places like Xian (the original capital, I think?), and visits Tibet. There are bits about what the government is doing to bring the West into the rest of China (culturally), and why that’s happening. And it’s a fun book to read, too.

Anyway, great book, highly recommended. I recognized a bunch of the places and the phenomena that he talks about from my recent trips, and from my point of view, he does a really admirable job of making some very complicated things accessible to everyone.

Sep 07


It’s funny the way these things go.

Today was an extraordinary day for me here at the WEF meeting in Dalian. I had a 1-1 half hour conversation with Tom Friedman (we talked about a bunch of stuff, including the fact that we’re all transparent humans now in the public eye, and that we need to learn again how to read — incidentally, watch for his next column, as it will be a bit about Dalian), spent an hour talking with Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), talked with my friends Isaac Mao and Kaiser Kuo, preeminent bloggers in China, kidded around with the founders of probably a dozen incredibly awesome startups, met Rebecca McKinnon (formerly CNN Correspondent for northeast Asia including North Korea), and spent time with my new friend Chris, whose design firm is involved in this and this and especially this, not to mention probably two dozen other extraordinary people I met for the first time. Oh, right, and I had drinks at the reception with a friggin astronaut who’s now trying to save the earth’s water.

So all in, a good day. An amazing range of experiences and an amazing range of people to spend time with. As I mentioned, I feel very lucky.

But here’s the really amazing thing: as blown away as I am by all these folks, every single one of them knows Mozilla and Firefox and is rooting for us. Not everyone uses Firefox, although most do (1 Maxthon user, 1 Safari user, the rest use Firefox). But every single person I talked with thinks that what the Mozilla community has accomplished is incredible, and wants to see us do better and better.

So the funny bit for me is that sometimes you have to go 5,000 miles (literally & figuratively) to really be reminded how amazing the people around you are, and how lucky you are to get to work with them every single day. [This also applies to my family, of course — I can’t wait to get home to see Kathy & Sam.]

Everyone involved in any way with Mozilla should be proud of the impact we’re having on the world — an awful lot of awfully amazing people are noticing & cheering & helping.

Sep 07

Breaking my brain

In the space of 2 hours this morning at Dalian, my brain is broken. 3 people whom I think very highly of, within 2 hours of each other, have all said that they’re very very worried about the future of democracy.

The first said it in the context of global climate change: “Democracy is going to have a hard time surviving climate change [in 10 years or so].”

The second was Tom Friedman, in response to Martin Wolf, a Financial Times writer — Martin said this: “News is expensive; information wants to be free.” And he’s concerned that to have a functioning, healthy democracy, you need legitimate news (construe that how you will, but he and Tom mean that it has reasonable editorial standards and process).”

But it’s the climate change one that knocked my hat into the creek, as Diego says from time to time. The implication is that effects from climate change have the potential to put tremendous stress on our political systems; market dynamics may not be able to address the problems, and direct democracy may actually make the problem worse, not better. (If you have any doubt, think about Prop 13 in California, (relatively) cheap gasoline in the States, even now, or the person who cut down the last tree on Easter Island.)
Sobering & brain-breaking. Lots to think about.