To Florian Merz, open source is more than just a code, it’s the inextricable link between the virtual world and the real world. The Mozilla Community rep and co-founder of the Open Mozilla Night works on a voluntary basis in his free time. Aside from his fulltime job as developer, he has been shaping the development of the Berlin Community.
Do you have to be really good with computers to join the Community?
Florian: Not at all. I myself only started getting interested in computers at the age of 16. To me, the important thing was always the people using the computers. I started off with LAN parties where people meet, bring their computers, play games together, talk and simply have fun. I grew up in a very small village. We didn’t have any bigger towns nearby, so the Internet was my link to the world.
Is that why you’re putting so much work into developing the Berlin Mozilla Community?
Yes! I started in my home region where I got together with a few people to set up a computer club. I also held workshops for parents, showing them that playing computer games is not all bad and that LAN parties don’t turn children into frenzied killers but actually teach them a lot.
Connecting people with the world via their computers, raising awareness … Do you relate particularly well to digital beginners?
While pursuing my IT degree in Karlsruhe, I joined a working group which introduced people with little prior knowledge to Linux and web design. I have learned a lot from people who write open source software and tutorials and explain how things work and I enjoy giving something back.
What do you personally associate with Mozilla?
I’ve been using Firefox since its inception, before that Mozilla. I was already using it when the browser was still called Phoenix. Mozilla has always accompanied me on the Internet. There simply was no alternative for anyone interested in free software and open source. And if one had a bit of an idea about the subject, one could immediately see that this was somebody fighting for an open Internet.