Archive for December, 2010

Privacy Icons: Alpha Release

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Earlier this year, Mozilla convened a privacy workshop that brought together some of the world’s leading thinkers in online privacy. People from the FTC to the EFF were there to answer the question: What attributes of privacy policies and terms of service should people care about? This lead to a proposal presented for the W3C, among other places, which further refined the notion.

We are now ready to propose an alpha version of Privacy Icons that takes into account the feedback and participation we’ve received along the way. We’ve simplified the core set dramatically and tightened up the language. While the icons don’t touch on all topics, we do think they significantly move the discussion on privacy, as well as the general level of literacy about privacy, forward. We do not want to let perfection or devotion to taxonomy get in the way of the good.

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The Problem With Home

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

If you sit and watch people use an iPhone there’s a mistake made often and reliably: They hit the home button when they mean to just go back to the app’s main screen. Going home has heavy consequences—to recover you’ve got to find that app again, sit through its splash screen, and fiddle the app to where it was before. The home button is the grunt-and-touch control of physical affordances. While iconically simple, the one bit of information it lets you indicate is too little.

Android and Palm’s WebOS have a different but related problem. Instead of providing a home button, they provide a “back” gesture/button in addition to a home button. At first this appears to be better with its strong allusion to the ubiquitous browsing metaphor. But back on the phone is unpredictable: it might mean return to the last screen, the last area, or even the home screen. You never know where back will take you. Worse, there is no undo to “back”; without “forward” back becomes a minefield of maybes and didn’t means.

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Leaving Mozilla, Starting Massive Health

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Firefox is a project you never want to leave, and Mozilla is a company of which dreams are made. No matter where I travel in the world—from Rome to Tokyo—there are engaged Mozillian communities that immediately whirlwind me to a local pub to talk shop. I’ve been extremely lucky to participate in the world’s flagship open-source movement.

After helping to shape and ship the world’s leading browser to nearly half a billion people, there’s little one can do which seems meaningful. Where does one go? It’s been an action-packed time: I’ve started projects from Ubiquity to Jetpack; designed the Firefox Mobile concept and the original W3C geolocation specification; led projects like Firefox Panorama and given a TED talk; helped scale the open source design community; and even invented new forms of phishing. The scale of impact and ability to work in the open for a public-benefit company has been a life-defining experience. The last two and a half years I’ve been inspired by, and lucky enough to also inspire, the best and brightest in protecting and enhancing the open Web—arguably the most precious resources of our time.

Come January 1st, however, I’m leaving to found a new company. Massive Health.
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