The kid* behind the Firefox phenomenon

A well-written article by David Kushner about Blake Ross, one of the co-founders of Firefox . You get to read about Ross’s motivation for developing Firefox and the project he’s now working on, Parakey. Here’s a clip:

While still a teenager, this self-taught coder cofounded the Mozilla Firefox project, a spin-off of Netscape’s Mozilla Web browser, sparking a global phenomenon. Firefox has since been downloaded by more than 200 million people worldwide, threatening the supremacy of even Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer.

Although Firefox was ultimately wrought from the work of thousands of programmers in the free-software community—the hive of coders who share and collaborate online—Ross has become a poster boy for the revolution, a role he neither expected nor is comfortable with. People are switching to Firefox at the rate of 7 million per month—most of them from Internet Explorer—because the new browser makes surfing the Web safer and easier. Some call him “Microsoft’s worst nightmare.” Ross just says, “I’m more on the side of mom and dad.”

You can check out the printer-friendly version of the article if that’s your thing.

And, if you’re wondering why I’ve posted this on this blog (and not my other one), here’s an excerpt from Ross’s article The Firefox Religion:

You’d be hard pressed to believe it with the ongoing media circus, but Firefox has humble origins in a product that—if everything went as planned—was designed to be invisible to the person using it. I remember sitting on IRC with Dave, Ben and Asa painstakingly debating feature after feature, button after button, pixel after pixel, always trying to answer the same basic question: does this help mom use the web? If the answer was no, the next question was: does this help mom’s teenage son use the web? If the answer was still no, the feature was either excised entirely or (occasionally) relegated to config file access only. Otherwise, it was often moved into an isolated realm that was outside of mom’s reach but not her son’s, like the preferences window.

Enough said. Read.

* — Blake Ross is 21 years old now so technically he’s not a kid anymore but that doesn’t make for great headlines now does it?


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