Category Archives: Politics

“Do-ocracy” and Why Mozilla Shouldn’t Be One

For years the Mozilla community has prided itself on being a “merit-ocracy”: those with the talent and the skills got the recognition. Not only is it a wonderful concept, it was true. I know because my life has been incredibly affected by it. Those of you who have been around a while may remember a drunken and rambly (but well received!) toast I made in 2006 about my family’s path and the role Mozilla has played in it. Mozilla didn’t care about resumes and past history, they simply saw the invaluable contributions made to the project and did what they could to support those contributions continuing and flourishing. Because mconnor demonstrated his “merit,” he was trusted and asked to “do” more.

So what’s wrong with a “do-ocracy?”

Somewhere along the way, and I have my own opinions on exactly when and how, things got flipped. In the last year I am starting to hear more and more about Mozilla being a “do-ocracy”: the people who get things done get the recognition.  I personally feel this concept is toxic to a thriving and open community.  I am not suggesting that by using the term people feel the things I describe as negative are good, I do suggest the term is oversimplifying. Here’s why:

While you’re doing, where is everyone else?

The emphasis on getting things done precludes the idea of taking time to involve and teach others. Mconnor didn’t become the owner of the browser module because he already knew how. He was willing to learn and had the seemingly rare ability to put up with Ben Goodger (or maybe it was Ben who had the ability to put up with Mike? but I’m teasing)! This is where the subtlety of the difference in terms comes in. Yes, mconnor earned his merit with Mozilla by “do-ing” things, but he did other things to earn the trust and respect to move up to new roles. Similarly, there were mentors in place who weren’t just “do-ing” but also helping him learn and prove his “merit.”

Inviting people to participate can get you the results you want better.

I was encouraged when the original article made its rounds, and recently there is a new blog post about another instance of increasing the percentage of women speakers at tech events going around. How did they do it? They actively engaged the women they wanted to see participate. They recognized the “merit” of the women who in actuality weren’t “do-ing!” The organizers persisted in encouraging the women to participate and it benefited everyone involved. Once these women were confident that others saw their “merit”, they started “do-ing.” Before MoCo was formed this was built in to a degree. Needed help? You couldn’t hire someone to take that feature off your hands, you had to cultivate help from the community.

The fastest way to get things done is to pay someone.

A concern many people had when MoCo was founded was that eventually it would take over and there would no longer be a community of volunteers, just a compnay. Even if this was never anyone’s intention, it’s still a valid concern.  With the competition in the browser market heating up Mozilla understandably chose to add employees to help stabilize development and keep progress moving. Because it’s easier to get something done with paid employees than volunteers. That’s a truth we have to be wary of, if we truly value Mozilla as an open community of volunteers and employees alike. If getting something done is the primary motivation, using volunteers, and certainly allowing them into leadership roles, doesn’t make sense. Neither does recruiting from the community. Go out and find the people who have already added a particular task to their resume and hire them to do it again.


HR should be a “do-ocracy.”

This is one case where I feel the term applies nicely. I think we all know someone in public service that can’t get that promotion they’ve worked hard to earn because all jobs have to be posted publicly and interviewed for to be sure the absolutely best possible candidate – on paper anyway – gets the job. If there is the need for a paid position and someone is already doing the job, hire them! If someone is already doing the job, but they could be doing it better, don’t just hire someone else into it, help them become better!  I know there is a need to balance hiring out of the community and creating an expectation that community members will be hired, however I do worry the pendulum has swung too far. I think that if 2004 mconnor (and others) applied for Mozilla today he would have a very hard time competing with the intern program.

Long live “merit-ocracy!”

There is more to earning and displaying merit than getting something done. Merit also lives in how something is done. Being willing to learn, being friendly and encouraging to others. Having the experience to know why something is or isn’t a good idea, mentoring those who are “do-ing.”  Standing up for the community’s values.  You can’t “do” openness, it’s not an end result but a method.  Mozilla has been a values organization, it has always won on values. Products and features are just the vehicles for the values. To remain a thriving and open community Mozilla must continue to “do,” but to “do” with “merit.”  For these reasons, I believe we should stick with the traditional term “merit-ocracy” when trying to describe Mozilla and what it aspires to be.

Simply “do-ing” makes us the same as everyone else.

That’s Not My Name!

They call me Lucy

Lucy isn’t my name. It’s not my middle name either.  My best friend from high school and I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula (with Gary Oldman) and during one of our many viewings she became Mina and I became Lucy. Since I already answer to it in real life, it became a natural online handle.  Lucy does me very well in online chats, ordering coffee and reserving tables. Everyone knows how to spell it and how to pronounce it whereas Majken fails both of these tests about as hard as a name could fail.

However, I feel a little awkward asking professional contacts to call me Lucy. There’s an odd feeling of deceit to it because it’s not obviously a nickname and the story of how I came to be Lucy is a story best told over drinks, not business.  Given my involvement with Mozilla, and my continuing leadership in the Reps program, I feel I’ve come to the point that everyone else does where I need to drop the old gaming/message board nick and start using my real name. Except that won’t work.

They call me Madge-ken

Majken is hard enough to pronounce in real life, let alone to figure out online. Turns out even I was saying it a little wrong. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when some Swedish friends drunk dialed me that I finally heard my name pronounced correctly. Turns out a Swedish accent is the difference between love and hate (Google’s new Swedish voice incorrectly blends the jk if you don’t include the space). If I start using Majken, I will be forever Madge-ken. This will not do. I can’t stand it, though I don’t blame anyone who calls me that, it’s not your fault!

Funny story, my first GP called me Madge-ken for 12 years. We gave up trying to correct him when I was little and he was a very nice man so I didn’t mind. On my very last appointment with him before we moved away he finally noticed how my grandmother pronounced my name. Needless to say he was mortified, and to this day I feel bad for him.

They call me ???

I need a nickname that’s obviously derived from my real name but is EN readable, but Lucy is the only nickname that has ever stuck.  In that sense Majken was a bit of a blessing, try making fun of it!  “Bikin’ Majken” was the best the boys in Gr 4 could do. In Gr 7 our class clown was very talented and managed to get to “My Chicken” and “Magic Johnson.” Not very insulting for me, or satisfying for them, so they inevitably moved on to names easier to manipulate. Thankfully any play on Mike is out of the question since mconnor has the Mike Connor market cornered.

Maybe Kensie!

But wait! My name has two syllables! Thanks to the surge of Mackenzies in the world there are some very cute nicknames rooting from “Ken” and I’m going to blatantly appropriate one for myself. As awkward as it is to pick your own nickname, I need one, and Kensie Connor is just way too awesome a name to pass up! I already use Majken for twitter, facebook and my email address, so the transition shouldn’t be too rough. I just wanted to put a background out there and give people a heads up to make it as smooth as possible.

I know I need glasses, but do I lack vision?

Mitchell Baker finally blogged about the Mozilla Foundation and the “Thunderbird situation.” I replied to her blog, but it’s pretty lengthy, figure anyone that cares about my opinion will more likely see it here than there, so here is what I posted there (mostly, I had the full thing in my clipboard, but replaced it without pasting over the copy I’d made in progreess).

I agree that things are going to get really interesting with the web and what it can do. I think we might be missing the boat if we think it’s all going to happen within the browser. All the talk I hear about “the web is the future!” sounds like Firefox as OS, and maybe it’s my lack of vision, but I just can’t see that working out well. If everything is going to be “on the web” then where does a browser separate from the operating system fit in? Will it be like PowerDesktop, an alternative file exlorer?

I think there is a serious underestimation of how much people want their data *off* the web as much as possible, especially in North America. What will happen for those users? I guess Firefox would save their data to the HD and tell the server to delete it, and then the web interface would be able to read the mail again? Or Firefox would display it without sending it back to the server? Isn’t that another suite?

I think my biggest problem with all this is I don’t know how far in the future all this is, maybe it’s next year, and so it’s *Really* happening, but is it really? What’s the timeframe for this? Are we really somewhere with standards that it can happen so soon? 5 years maybe?

So while everyone’s really excited about what’s coming down the tubes, I’m sitting at home wanting to use an email client, and a calendar manager, and I like not having to go online to check stuff (*my* internet is up pretty much 24/7 and I have unlimited bandwidth, but pretty sure that’s still the minority). Especially on my laptop. Yeah there’s mobile phones, too, but seriously what is the security like? Hackers are just beginning to get into the market and will phone providers and manufacturers really have the experience to close the holes quick enough to keep people’s data safe in the near future?

All this R&D is great, but I’m a user and I exist *right now* and my data could use managing *right now* and *right now* I don’t care how many apps I have to use to do that, that’s what my operating system is for. I care that things like Thunderbird, and Sunbird (which is an alpha I might add, it’s amazing) work. really. well.

If the technologies are going to converge, then fine. But why so much bet hedging? Why not let it happen organically? Innovate the current products and UI. I mean web based or standalone the UI that people like is going to be the same. Isn’t that what the foundation is supposed to be doing anway? Nurturing things that are good for people *now* and seeing where they can go?

Mandates and Whores

With everything that’s currently going on in the Canadian political scene I really feel the need to say a few words. I really wish I could reach more people, because let’s face it, do any of us really have faith in the collective good sense of society as a whole? In any case, I can’t hold back any longer, and that’s what I made this blog for, so here goes.

I Hate Stephen Harper… (as a political leader, not as a person).

1. He doesn’t make sense

I think the thing I hate most about him is that he manages (like some other right leaning politician we all know and love) to convince people that he’s making sense. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin he had many a Canadian starry-eyed with his promises to increase spending by BILLIONS and cut taxes. I had to shake many a loved one out of their stupor with the cold hard reliable slap of logic. Ahh logic, so coy and shy, you slip through the grasp of so many who try to possess you… but please, stay with me for a while, I promise I’ll be gentle.

This is the thing most people don’t do. They ask themselves which promises they like, but they don’t stop and think about the likelihood of these promises being fulfilled. We do not need to know one smattering about the budget to decide whether this is a promise that could be kept, we just need to know the one thing that motivates politicians – getting elected. The party that could give Canadians more services and tax them less would be heralded as a party of gods. If that money was there the Liberals would have been all over it… in an election year I might add, and all they’d have had to do is run on a “get more pay less!” campaign and win on a clean sweep. The money isn’t there.

2. He’s also hypocritical as all get out.

Here are his thoughts after the budget and ammendment (aka confidence motions) were passed:

“Tonight, Parliament has voted by the slimmest of margins to keep the Liberal party in office for the time being,” he said. “I regret this decision deeply.”

This really got me going. Ok so look at the numbers from before Belinda Stronach crossed the floor. Together the Liberals and the NDP had 150 seats. Together the Conservatives and the Bloq had 153 seats. That’s a margin of 3. The most the government could have been taken down by was a margin of 6. Tell me Mr. Harper, is that an acceptable margin to make government changing decisions with? And of course if we look at the numbers at today’s vote the possible margin becomes 1. So 1 vote is not enough of an acceptable margin to leave a parliament sitting, but it’s enough to cause another election? *sigh* just *sigh*

3. He’s in bed with the Bloq but Stronach’s the prostitute?

With seemingly no regard to the consequences, Harper has formed an alliance with the separatists to bring down his opponents. Any argument he could make about this being for the good of Canada goes out the window when he enlists the help of people who would like nothing more than to not be Canadians (but who would still want to use our dollar and depend on us for trade, etc.). I don’t know how many Conservatives have thought this through, but if another election is called the Bloq will sweep Quebec. They’ve already got 54 seats. Which brings me to the next thing I wanted to talk about.

Your Enemy’s Enemy is Only Your Friend Until Your Enemy is Dead – Or You Are

They’ve already got enough damn seats to conspire to bring down the government. Perhaps the “R” word hasn’t been thrown around enough lately? It’s a fairly timely issue as well. What seems to be lost in all this ado around the sponsorship inquiry is that this money was going towards promoting nationalism, which is code for getting Quebec to stay in Canada. It barely worked. Whatever is in this deal for the Bloq is NOT in it for the rest of us. The Bloq has no vested interest in seeing a Conservative government, except to further separatism. At least not if Harper keeps his promises to do more for Western Canada and less for Ontario and Quebec. Out of all the parties the Liberals will do the most to make Quebec happy. Maybe that’s what happened last time. The Liberals did just enough to make Quebeccers want to stay. Maybe now the Bloq is hoping the Conservatives will make Quebeccers unhappy enough to separate. In any case I really don’t get the feeling Mr. Harper has thought about it, or if he has he doesn’t care. He certainly hasn’t said anything about it. Maybe we should ask.

Belinda Stronach: Loyalty to Your Party vs. Loyalty to Your Principles

Wow, that was great news for anyone that wanted to see this government try and do it’s job. I was rooting for her to win the Conservative nod, actually. Through the campaign she seemed very level-headed, very down to business and her resume had me reassured that any government she had a part in would be fiscally responsible. Now I am even more impressed. Not because she joined my side of the house, but because she is a person of principle.

Too often in our North American view of politics we forget what the party system is actually about. We all have principles that we wish our region to be governed by. To make it easier to find out what someone stands for, and to find someone that stands for the same thing we do, parties and party platforms evolved. Each election we are supposed to examine the platforms of the individual parties and find out what they stand for. What issues are close to their hearts, what will they go to bat for? While the general political positioning of these parties tend not to change (left/center/right) what these positions mean do evolve over time. Just as standards in clothing change, what is conservative now might have been liberal years ago. While we might find that all our lives the party that most closely represents our beliefs stays the same, that does not mean our beliefs stay the same. The party may have changed with us. Each election it is our responsibility to vote to our principles, not our party. Party names and lines are only labels. Our morals and are values are concrete. We must find them where they lie, not where they used to lie.

The Mandate Was Clear

Lately a lot of politicians have been tossing around the term “Clear Mandate.” Mostly saying that we don’t have one. I disagree. I think we already knew about the sponsorship scandal, we already knew Paul Martin was probably involved, especially in Ontario we knew we couldn’t trust politicians, even Liberals to keep promises. Our mandate was clear. Our mandate was this:

We don’t trust any of you right now. We do not want to give any of you control. We want you to sit down and hash it out and let the bills that are for the good of the country stand and the ones that are partisan fall. We want you to get along like adults and work together and we’ll send you to your room if you don’t. You think you can just pander to us during an election year and ignore us the rest of the term? Well guess what, every god damn freaking day is an election year, now start pandering.

Works for me.