The future of Firefox (Web 2.0 Expo Berlin)

9 11 2007

Now up on stage is Tristan Nitot, co-founder of the Mozilla Europe Foundation.

Looking back to 1999-presence: Mozilla is doomed, even JWZ quit. He asked the audience to stand up and then those people sit down who use Firefox mainly and nearly everybody sat down. So he’s now more positive about the future again 🙂

Germany is the second biggest market for Mozilla in the world after the US. Poland and Slovenia are approaching 50% of FF users.

Firefox 3

Although rumours say it, beta 1 is not yet ready.

Engine update

  • Better mem management,
  • Snappier,
  • Better standards support
  • Full page zoom
  • Advanced font rendering
  • native form control (no custom buttons)

UI changes

  • Visual refresh still to come
  • Toolbar rearrange
  • Page info redesign
  • new download manager
  • visual drag&drop

New. The “awsomebar”, formerly Places

  • reinvent bookmarks
  • Merging history, bookmarks, and adding tagging

He then showed a demo of some of the features:

Mozilla 2: problems trying to get solved

  • More performance, smaller footprint (mobile devices), more secure
  • DeCOMtamination (rewriting tools to massively update the codebase)
  • Tamarin JIT compiler JS2 engine

Firefox mobile

  • Plans announced October 9th, 2007
  • Based on Mozilla 2 (e.g. will take some time, and FF3 will *not* run on your mobile)

Ways to get involved

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High Order Bit: Seedcamp (Web 2.0 Expo Berlin)

8 11 2007

Speaking is Reshma Sohoni about how they come up with the entrepeneurs for their project.

Why Seedcamp?

It is all about creating, accelerating the next phase of european entrepeneurs.

The advantages of Europe:

  • EU as 11 of Top 15 broadband markets (actually 10 as switzerland is not in the EU).
  • Online advertisers spend 2x in UK than in the US
  • EU has an amazing young R&D talent
  • Europe has given birth to a lot of technologies: MySQL, Linux, etc.
  • EU has experienced VC companies (Index, ACCEL, atlas ventures etc.)
  • There are some great exits: Skype, kelkoo,, …
  • pipeline of leaders: Joost, Habbo Hotel, netvibes, spreadshirt, …
  • Entrepeneurs are actively investing such as Zennstrom, Samwer etc.

What is Seedcamp?

  • It is not an incubator, it’s a european initiative to catalyze the next generation of entrepeneurs
  • Comination of Seedcamp Week + 3 months immersin + Seedcamp on the road
  • Initial funding to get started and more importantly a strongly supportive mentor community
  • Organization supported by leading VCs, Angel investors, Corporates, etc.
  • The go-to community for entrepreneurs starting up Internet and mobile related businesses.
  • Seedcamp is backed by Euope’s leaders and a few friends (Google, TechCrunch, web2.0 expo, …)

How does it work?

Started a few months ago.

4 phases: Application & Selection, Seed funding, Company development, Seedcamp on the road.

The Future – how we work together

  • We want more hackers and less pure MBAs
  • Help us get the word out locally
  • Help us to create an active community (Forums, Facebook)
  • Get ready for next year’s seedcamp

Blogged with Flock

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A Conversation with Ari Virtanen, Nokia (Web 2.0 Expo)

8 11 2007

Ari Virtanen has two devices in his pockets these says. One cellphone and one internet tablet. Tim asks if this is a laptop replacement. It’s a totally different computing behaviour than with a laptop.

Now we come to the purchase of NAVTEQ and what Nokia might be in the future. Ari says that devices will be part of Nokia’s future. They will not just go into a different direction. But on top of this Nokia put together a good set of internet services. Services and Devices work together and interact.

How is the relationships to carriers as they usually had the services. Is Nokia at odd with the carriers now that they provide freely available internet services? Ari: The services from the carriers are mostly speech based and this area is more or less over and things are shifting. It is not that black and white anymore.

Tim thinks in the mobile market Europe has the most to get into Web2.0. Tim then gets back to NAVTEQ and wants to hear more about it. Ari: Nokia has a pretty good situation in the devices but not so good in the services. To extend this such deals are needed. It’s about adding a context and content to existing services. Think of photos etc. and mashups.

Tim: Is this a missed opportunity by NAVTEQ because they did not provide user generated content. Will Nokia add this? Ari: Nokia users make up a good chunk of people who create user generated content (think cams). So he sees a lot happening there in the future.

Tim: Why do you wanna own that asset? Ari: NAVTEQ is staying very independent inside NOKIA. By having this asset what NAVTEQ provides, there is a lot of potential for NOKIA to combine this with other information such as location contexts. For Ari this defines Web 3.0. Web 3.0 then adds context.

Tim: Usually you see hacker activities first before it gets more mainstream. Ari: Social Networks are one of the fastest growing trends at the moment. Nokia can add location and being able to stay connected all the time and interact with your community (Tim interrupts here..).

Tim: In the classes of uses there are already lots of players (photos, music. …). Are you e.g. competing with flickr or picasa? Ari: NOKIA will cooperate not try to replace them.

Tim: Think about iTunes, there is a strategy with the PC as the central piece and lots around it. Will it be the same for Nokia? Ari: NOKIA wants to make it as easy to use all those services with your handset.

Tim: Now what about the Adressbook, why do we only see the last 10 calls not every call as this is my social network? Ari: This is one of the potential services NOKIA can think of. This kind of presence information can then again combined with your context. The starting point is a trusting ground, a trusted platform which NOKIA has. You need to build on top of that.

Tim: When will NOKIA join the open handset alliance? Ari: We always did open architectures and open standards (he sort of avoids an answer here). Tim: Is there another “open”? 🙂

Tim: Do you see the phone getting into new form factors? Ari: Certainly, see the internet devices and also laptops will change. It’s more a business model change though than a technology change when it goes to the more open internet model (e.g. VoiP). NOKIA will soon have WIMAX on some devices. But this might add a subscription model and they don’t want this on the internet devices.

Tim: Do users really care about subscription? You pay “hidden subscription” somewhere. Ari: You have it absolutely right. It’s hard to predict how much your phone usage costs (problem of carrier business plans). Users might want to buy devices and subscriptions separately so competition is driven

Tim: So what about Google and the GooglePhone rumours? Ari: Google is very much serving the vision Nokia has but slightly different. All in all this is good for the industry as it drives these things. The more companies are supporting these architectures, the better. No answer to whether he thinks Google will succeed.

Tim: Is NOKIA moving further and further away from devices? Ari: We do both directions, devices and services. Just launched no device strategy.

Tim: How much revenue do bring services to NOKIA? Ari: Depends on the services. So far the services are mostly in test status. Business model on navigation and mapping might be buying city guides or download fees for maps.

Tim: Why hasn’t loaction based stuff happened that much from triangulation? Ari: GPS will be NOKIAs strategy. Not all devices will have GPS though due to the wide range of devices. But high end devices will mostly have it.

Tim: How fast is the high-end becoming the low-end in mobile (see PCs)? When is the smartphone the norm? Ari: The markets are slightly different. cannot put the finger on an actual number of months or years.

Tim: Do the used phone market change that at all? see ebay. Ari: Not a major part of the market because most people want to have a new device as it’s a status device.

Audience: Can you give us a NOKIA POV on sustainability, like chargers, packaging, etc. Ari: Good question. NOKIA is thinking about this very seriously. Very soon we will try to standardize these plugs for chargers etc. another q: Why was the plug changed recently? Ari: The new plug is smaller and it’s much better for the device design. They wanted to do it rather sooner than later. Goal is to have a new standard charger for all phones.

Question about Media serving. Ari: We have different types of serving media. The most common is one-to-many. But there is another one-to-one serving type.

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Cory Doctorow talks at the Web 2.0 Expo

8 11 2007

I am attending the talk by Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing fame among other things) now, probably one of the best talks here at the conference and of course Cory is a hero 🙂

So here are my notes, not sure I got everything right as it’s hard to write and listen to it as he’s quite of fast but feel free to correct me 🙂

The main problem here is that Europe and the US are playing ping-pong when it comes to copyright directives. If one continent has a longer copyright than the other than it’s extended even a bit more and then again by the other party and so on. All in the name of harmonization. This is not a good thing though.

The state of the copyright world in the US

  • two technologies might be identical but one illegal just because they might advertise it as being able to infringe copyright (thought crime)
  • VCR wouldn’t have been possible as Sony once advertised it as not only time-shifting application but also a means for creating your video library.
  • now we have the DMCA
  • the DMCA also means that anybody simply can take off something the internet without showing prove. no court involved.
  • example: Viacom just searched for keywords which might cover their copyrighted works on Youtube and sent the results to Youtube to take it down. But the search was ambigious and legal stuff was found to but taken down.
  • Viacom also says that privacy should be illegal as it might infringe copyright. But: you cannot share certain pictures anymore as you may not want to have this stuff publically available. Think of your child in the bathtube.
  • there are over 20.000 cases in the US where companies sue music fans. Will this bring them back to the music store?
  • statistics show: prolific downloaders are also prolific purchasers. So they sue the wrong people
  • DMCA was designer in 1995 and was shown to Al Gore who dismissed it at first. Now Europe thinks of even worse things.

What’s happening in Europe?

  • IPRED2 (IP Rights Enforcement Directive 2): Lot’s of scary information behind this link.
  • example pirate bay: A swedish member of parliament asked the police illegally to raid the ISP hosting it. Result: Takedown of 200 more servers not belonging to the PB. The Pirate Bay was not really affected by this though. Businesses had lots of problems due that. If you don’t have backups your business might be sort of dead.
  • Thus punishes more innocent people than the bad guys
  • DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting Project) wants to create a standard for digital broadcasting. Part of this is CPCM
  • CPCM is a far-reaching system of use-restrictions on digital television programming which was suddenly worked on by the DVB group. Every device  being able to receive and play digital video will probably need to implement it.
  • CPCM stands for Content Protection Copy Management and is Europe’s broadcast flag but goes much further. As a result US will probably again wants to “harmonize” and make it even worse.
  • So provisions for private audience, classroom showings are not in there. They can simply switch off the broadcast flag and you are not allowed to break it under euopean laws. You cannot show this video although you actually might be legally allowed to do so. Rumour say that you can call a toll free number to override this but how good will this work?!?
  • A video can be flagged that it can only be used by one household. The problem is the definition of “what is a household”. “If you have a boat and a house and another house and a minivan, then this can be treated as one household”. Now imaging: people living in different countries, daughter in a different country etc. They say, it’s a corner case they did not engineer for it.
  • Another example: You and your wife are divorced and your daughter spends half the time at your place and half the time at her mothers’s. Is this a household? Will the 8 year old daughter call the toll free line so she can watch TV?
  • The restrictions of CPCM: A pause button cannot pause a video for more than 2 hours because of some very strange reasons in which cases a show might be able to be seen for 48 hours although it’s only allowed to being watched for 24 hours.
  • Another problem: You are not able to implement this as open source because it could be hacked that way.
  • Interoperability becomes a matter of permission. Since now it is not the matter of the producer to decide what you are allowed to do with something after you bought it. E.g. you can use any charger with your nokia phone.
  • You can only interoperate with that stuff if you make a contract with them. Breaking it is illegal.
  • Now this will get enacted with the new digitial television provisions and then it might get back to the US where maybe the next step is added.

Hope can we solve this and make it better?

  • Get involved with the EFF! They do brilliant things.
  • You can support groups in your own country like the CCC in Germany.
  • Creative Commons and iCommons organizations are all over. They take stance against these things
  • Participate in the hearings. Right now only the rights holders are there. We need more geeks there.
  • For the majority of music artists giving them more years of copyright makes no difference.
  • Good example in Britain: Resistance stopped prolonging the copyright.

All in all a very scary talk and I wish more people had listened to it. Room wasn’t really packed.

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Open Social at Barcamp Berlin 2

3 11 2007

We just finished a session at the Barcamp Berlin 2 on the new Google Open Social API which is quite hyped at the moment probably due to the name and due to the fact that everybody hopes it fixed the whole social network problem field. Of course it doesn’t but it seems to be a good start.

I has the pleasure to present together with David Recordon of Six Apart. That’s esp. nice as I just stumbled upon his paper he did with Brad Fitzpatrick on the Social Graph. David also knows quite a bit more about Open Social of course, simply because Six Apart is one of the Google partners on this project.

Here are my quickly created slides which served as a small introduction:

We also had a great Q&A session afterwards which probably was having more questions that answers. I will try to summarize some of the discussion later (and probably adding my own thoughts). I also recorded part of the discussion on video and I will put this up later and post it here.

Unfortunately not too much information on how to implement Open Social containers is available now, otherwise it might be nice to try to create a Plone implementation.

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Standardising Virtual Worlds, an update

31 10 2007

Some time has passed away since I last posted something about the Second Life Grid Architecture Working Group and related efforts (because there are now).


So what has been happening on defining a new protocol for Second Life? Well, actually technically not too much, we are still being in the discussion phase. But a lot of discussion has happened. A big one was of course the discussion around Intellectual Property and fears such a new protocol can open the door to all sorts of misuse. There is a lot of detail on this wiki page about it. Summarized the situation is that we don’t want to implement any DRM as it will be hacked anyway but we will keep the permission system as it is (other grids are free then of course to implement their own permission system like a true GPL one) and make sure the objects will stay in the trust domain you define.

Then there was some discussion about alternative region and geometry formats but Zero made clear in his lates office hour that we won’t define a new format for all this. Groups who want to discuss this can do so but in a different place while they still should stay abreast with the protocol work the SLGAWG is doing. Should there be the fear that some doors might get closed which are not being that easy to reopen again, they should say so.


From these discussions which got a bit unstructured the idea of the Viewpoint Advocacy Group (VAG) was born. Those groups have a special topic such as Scalability, Quality Assurance or Geometry/Physic and they will closely follow the protocol definition. They will also discuss certain use cases under their individual viewpoint. Should there be conflicts between different views then somebody (probably Zero) needs to decide on them. The goal though is of course to reach consensus where possible. You can find more about them on this wiki page.

In-world group AWGroupies

Zha Ewry of IBM founded a group called AWGroupies as a group for meetups in Second Life. Zha also provided some group space for those meetings to take place. Meetings are once or twice a week and there is an agenda on what to talk about here. This group is invite only but if you are interested in the technical details of the protocol definition and want to contribute to a technical conversation there should be no reason not be allowed in.

These meetings are sort of preparation sessions for the office hour with Zero Linden. Results will of course be posted on the wiki.

AWGroupies also have a public subversion repository here:

The Scope of the SLGAWG

In his last office hour Zero Linden was talking about the scope of this project: The main goal here really is Second Life and how to make it possible to open up the grid and that way also make the architecture more scalable. It is a project for the next 1-2 years. It is not about redefining everything, most of the data structures present in Second Life today will probably also be used in the new architecture. It is also not about being able to host 5000 people on a region because this needs severe rethinking and experimentation about how to do that with all the SL features still intact. For a more general standardization of virtual worlds there is actually the vwinterop project which I will describe later.

The last decision of what is in scope and what isn’t is now defined by Zero should there be problems coming up regarding this. He also promised to edit the wiki next week and move stuff not in scope “elsewhere”.


Well, on the coding front not much really has happened yet. We are sort of still in the discussion on how this project actually should work instead of working on something. There are some exceptions of course, like Gareth Ellison who is working on some python based components. From the official site (== Linden Lab) there is only known right now that they want to have an implementation for a customized client logging in to an agent domain at the end of Q4.
But now that Q4 is passing past fast and Zero will edit the wiki I hope that some more official coding is happening soon. I think this is very important because right now probably everybody has their own view on how things might or might not work.

Code can then also be used as a basis for discussion and an example for the ongoing work

Virtual World Interoperability

At the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in San Jose earlier this month IBM hosted a closed session with many players from the virtual worlds business, such as AutoDesk, Samsung, HiPiHi, Anshe Chung Studios, Sun, Transmutable, Areae, Forterra, Mindark, IBM, Cisco, Google, Linden Lab, Sony, Multiverse, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Philips. According to Peter Haggar, Emerging Technology and Standards Senior Technical Staff Member at IBM, this meeting was mainly meant to check out if there is interest in creating standards for virtual worlds to make them interoperable.

It seems there is some interest and so a group has been formed which now has a home on the web at This page includes the full agenda for the day complete with presentation slides.

The status of the group is probably “forming”. Not real work has been done except some discussion about how this group might work. So it’s definitely an interesting place to watch and maybe participate. I missed the last meeting unfortunately but will try to attend the next one. Everybody can join this effort btw, just signup at the site. You need to be confirmed but for me this seemed not to be any problem.

So there are definitely interesting projects going on. One a bit more concrete (SLGAWG) and another somewhat broader (VW Interop). Now if the first one just gets a better name than SLGAWG it might be all fine 😉

PS: There is also the press release from Linden Lab and IBM regarding creating e.g. a standard for universal avatars. This is probably more related to the work done by the VW Interop group.

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What is the future of Social Networks?

31 10 2007

So recently I “had to” add some new social networks to my growing list of accounts (e.g. this one) and it again started to annoy me quite a bit.

So what is wrong?

Basically I think it’s the fact that all those social networks out there (or at least most) are very much walled gardens. They surely give me all sorts of interaction possibilities with my friends and contacts but it’s all happening just on their site.

They model my social graph for me but it’s hidden on their site.

The let my friends send me messages but those are hidden on their site (although we have a quite well working messaging system called email. Why not at least include the message body in that email).

The let me write applications for their site but they again are hidden on their site and not portable anyway (might change with OpenSocial).

The have all my data but it’s hidden on their site.

So all of this is sort of annoying me plus the fact that nearly none of those sites utilize useful things like OpenID (IIRC some Ning representative at the AlwaysOn conference said that users don’t want OpenID. Hello?)

So what is the future here? I think I am getting more and more lazy with each new social network which wants my data. I might not try to find my friends anymore, I might not try to interact much with it beside that what might be very much useful for me.
I might not even respond to messages anymore because I might happen to have forgotten my password for this one and I am too lazy to go through that email process (which email was it again? Which was actually my account name?!?)

As long as you are not the top ten of those sites that’s probably bad for you.

So social networks need to open up. They need to give me my data back and might subscribe to my already existing data like my social graph which might be stored where I like it. That way those networks will get much more useful data.

One problem is of course also the advertising model most of the sites use. This of course is a main driving force for walled gardens. So it might be interesting to see if the open source community will come up with something better. There are already good attempts like NoseRub or even OpenID (maybe not open source but open standards).

Then there are also attempts on making virtual worlds more interoperable and from what I see so far esp. in the Second Life Grid Architecture Working Group is also promising for social networks in general. They think ahead of how to define identity in a more global way. Of course we have to see how much is left when the protocols are finished and of course many of the existing virtual worlds (actually all) are also walled gardens. But maybe there is hope 🙂

So what do you think about the future of social networks regarding openness? Will you have a future where virtual worlds will be part of that and where you have to define an avatar additionally to friends, groups and profile on every single website you want to visit or do you think you can reuse existing information and actually control it?

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