Mozilla, the team behind the Firefox web browser used by more than 400 million people the world over, is hitting the road. The internet browser is not its only product: their finest minds are hard at work with Telefónica on a new breed of smartphones, and they’ve pioneered the technologies that power the web we take for granted.
Their mission is simply to promote “openness, innovation and opportunity on the internet.” And this month they’ve been spreading the word across Latin America.
As a non-profit organisation, Mozilla relies on the wider internet community to help move its projects forward: volunteers help test drive all of its products to make sure they’re ready for use. And there’s no better way to drum up grass roots interest than by hitting the pavement and reaching out to developers all over the world. That’s where Mozilla’s Hack Days come in.
Days crammed with talks, workshops and competitions, helping developers to embrace the open technologies employed by Mozilla, have been taking place across continents – from California to Kenya. And the latest stops on the tour have been in South America, home to some 220 million active internet users.
April saw a Mozcamp kick off in Buenos Aires, with Hack Days also taking place in Argentina, Montevideo, Uruguay, São Paulo in Brazil and Santiago, Chile. The events welcomed local developers keen to learn more about the next-generation of web design and coding, and have go themselves, and were hosted by Mozilla engineers and reps, including Mozilla Technical Evangelist and legend Robert Nyman.
Also on show: Mozilla’s visionary Boot To Gecko project (B2G), aimed at creating a smartphone powered by a web browser. B2G is now part of a wider initiative between Mozilla and Telefónica to create the first Open Web smartphone, which, with a low price tag, could prove revolutionary in the Latin American mobile market.
These events aren’t just about Mozilla tech however: BlueVia, a Telefónica development platform, is a sponsor of the tour. BlueVia Developer Programs Engineer Andres L. Martinez has been on the road with the Mozilla crew, explaining to developers how BlueVia’s technologies, available for free to any developer, can help monetise mobile apps.
“The first…developer day was amazing,” says Martinez, who found himself answering questions from eager developers until time ran out – and then some.
Across the continent, attendees embraced Mozilla’s vision, and were keen to keep the conversation going long after leaving the building.
Nyman recounts one telling example that took place the evening after the Buenos Aires Hack Day took place. Returning to his hotel, he found a crowd from MozCamp waiting for him, still eager to talk.
“When one of them saw me, he yelled ‘Robert Nyman!’, ran up to me and praised me for my work and specifically my talk,” he says. “He was talking for ten minutes about how much this meant to him, how he got influenced to do a lot of things and he was very excited about the future…He was so engaged that he was almost bouncing up and down, just expressing his sheer joy and happiness.”
“I can’t imagine doing something better than teaching, supporting and inspiring people to my best knowledge to create amazing things, to grow, to dare to take the plunge and try something new. And not just that, doing something that will be good for the web, and, as an extension, the world.”