Brian King, fighting for the user

Tristan Nitot

In the spirit of showing what’s (and who) is beyond the code that powers Mozilla technology, I’m interviewing Brian King, a long-time contributor living in Slovenia, with his quite noticeable Dublin accent.

Tristan Nitot – Hi Brian, can you introduce yourself and what you have done for Mozilla over the years, when did you start contributing?

Brian King – I’m Brian King and I’ve been involved with Mozilla since 1999. I was primarily a developer. A company I worked for was one of the first 3rd parties to use the Mozilla code to write software, in this case a firm in Dublin writing children’s software. Then I got involved with mozdev.org and helped build up a developer ecosystem around Mozilla software and products, e.g. Add-ons. Then I started doing consulting around this, eventually setting up my own firm Briks in 2006. I also do many volunteer activities for Mozilla, most recently engagement efforts in the Mozilla Reps program.

Tristan – I’ve seen you help with organizing tons of events, such as FOSDEM, every year in Brussels, Belgium.

Brian – Yes, from early on I tried to attend as many events as possible, e.g. developer meetings or European get-togethers. After some time I became involved in the organizational side, such as managing the schedule and logistics for the Mozilla room at FOSDEM.

Tristan – Why did you do this as a volunteer? What has drawn you to Mozilla?

Brian – At the start I became more drawn into the community because of the people. On IRC and newsgroups, I found passionate, helpful and welcoming folks. It brought a sense of belonging beyond what I needed to do for my job. As I learned more about Mozilla’s mission and values, it made more sense to me personally to continue contributing. Later when I started making a living writing add-ons and other Mozilla software, I felt a) I needed to give something back and b) I was personally invested in the success of the Open Web and Mozilla. So there were altruistic and selfish reasons mixed together.

Tristan – Do you remember when you have read the Mozilla Manifesto? What impression did it leave you?

Brian – I read it very shortly after it became public, or even during the drafting phase. To me it was just a more explicit expression of what I felt to be the ideals of Mozilla before. The essence of these principles are openness, standards, and the standing up for Web users around the world. It is too verbose to give someone an elevator pitch about Mozilla, but as a document cementing our core values and beliefs I believe it has held up very well. We’ve refined the shorter messages as well since then.

Tristan – I’ve just heard that you’ve become paid staff, focusing on Community management in Europe. How do you feel?

Brian – This is somewhat of a departure for me as up until now I have mostly been doing development work for a living with Briks and other employers before that. Yet in many ways it is a continuation of the work I have been doing as a Mozilla volunteer for a long time. In particular as I mentioned before, my work with mozdev, Mozilla Reps, and on events has really primed me for the position. As I’ve traveled around and met many great people and seen how communities work over the last few years, I’m amazed by the endless energy and ideas. This is a time of change for Mozilla as we move into the new areas to fulfill our mission. The community is rising to the challenge and I’m looking forward to continue to work with everyone.

Tristan – How do you see Mozilla in the next 5 years?

Brian – I think we will continue to do our mission through first-class products, and continue our evolution into mobile with Firefox OS. There is huge opportunity here.
Beyond that it is quite simple, I’d like to see us scale the number of contributors globally, and continue to fight for the user so that they continue to have a stake and control in their Web presence.

Tristan“fighting for the user”, I can’t agree more! Thank you Brian for your time. I wish you the best in your new job with Mozilla!