I'm Aza Raskin @aza. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I'm VP at Jawbone, focusing on health.


Joining Mozilla

Software is too frustrating. There are a lot of choices in today’s computing world — what’s worse, most of them are too complicated. Hundreds of features, dozens of user preferences, unresponsive programs, inscrutable error messages, crowded toolbars, merciless disrespect for the safety of your data; all of these are problems that plague most of today’s software. We, as Humanized, are dedicated to tackling these problems and to making software effortless.

Mozilla is about making the web (which isn’t just the browser!) useful for, and usable by, everyone. Mozilla is in a unique position — not being beholden to any particular technology or the bottom-line — to push the web forward, past the boundaries of the browser, focusing foremost on people. Which is why I am excited and proud to say that we are joining forces with Mozilla to head up the user experience side of Mozilla Labs. We will be working inside the browser, on the browser, outside the browser, and mixing all three. Enso’s coming too.
Desktop apps and web apps are like isolated cities, each with its own customs and infrastructure. Both apps and isolated cities have a lot of needless redundancy. Cities have an excuse: they’re in physically different places and are forced to duplicate a lot of things. Applications don’t have such an excuse—they all share the same hard drive, processor, memory, net connection, and operating system. Yet despite such proximity, for the user, they are still don’t share their features. I mean think about it: even though Google has a great mapping app, you can’t actually insert a map into a Gmail email! What would it mean if we could unite all applications by letting them share infrastructure and customs?

Services and mashups are a start, but their utility is bottle-necked by the creativity of developers. As a user, if you want maps in Gmail, you have to wait until someone else implements them. I want to place the power of services and mashups into the hands of mothers and their non-programming teenage sons. I want to be able to use the features from one web app, in any other web app, without a developer having to think of my use-case first.

Towards this end, we made Enso entirely free (yes, we are thinking about open source as well). This is our first step in helping the ideas behind Enso — the linguistic command line and universal access to services — ubiquitous.

The next couple of months are going to be a transition period for us, as we work on charting the course for former Humanized projects in the Mozilla world.

It’s time to make computers fundamentally a better place. It’s time to make software less frustrating.

RT @aza Joining Mozilla | Follow @aza on Twitter | All blog posts

View all 116 comments

First, Congratulations! Second, the idea that interfaces are adaptable and dynamic enough to deal with situations at hand even if an interface designer hasn’t thought of the use case before is _really_ important. It’s perhaps one of the biggest problems with interface design today. Since the best part of the Web 2.0 boom is the proliferation of open APIs and services for doing these things in a progromatic way, it seems like working at a place like Mozilla is the best opportunity to develop functionality like this in the current world of computing. Good luck at Mozilla, and make computers less painful. :)

Huge congrats! I couldn’t think of a better place for you guys to have a big influence on the whole internet. It’s great that your work has been so noticed and appreciated.

Congrats. The direction Mozilla Labs has taken in the last few months shows a lot of promise. Very exciting stuff.

Bastian Flinspach

I hope you will also take on the task of a better Interface for Thunderbird, because in my opinion, desktop email programs could learn a lot from say, for example, gmail.


Thank you for the free enso and good luck with the new effort.
I wish your contributions to mozilla come fast to the end products.

Good News for me, as I’m an enthusiastic Enso user (and Firefox)! Great, Great and Great (again)!!!

Congrats! You don’t know how jealous I am. :)

Since Firefox is open-source, will we be able to follow your work directly, too, and maybe add our input?

Wow! That could mean some insanely great stuff if Mozilla becomes Humanized.

Imagine every copy of firefox also being or bringing Enso. Imagine if web-sites could define new Enso services / plugins simply by embedding a descriptive chunk of XML in a page or on their site – (with the real work either being done in Javascript running locally or on the server).

Imagine Enso as a standard command line to the web …

Congrats! I was so excited when I heard the news. I think that finally browsers may go somewhere and not just be a front-end for viewing web pages. Browsers are designed as “good old” desktop apps but that’s not what they should be. They should drive innovation.

Good luck to you all!

Fantastic news! I’m really looking forward to the possibilities. :-)

Right on! Now I don’t have to write that firefox plugin to act like Enso.

Here’s to making the web a better place!

Charlie Evett

Brilliant! I think this is a great direction for the Humanized team to take. Good Luck!

Steve Rice

How about releasing the next version of enso before you go!

This is fantastically exciting news, and congratulations!

I wonder if you would be willing to open up some of your thinking r.e. open source for Enso – like, what are the pros and cons, etc.?

Wow. Congrats to *Mozilla* :-). A humanized browser could only mean greatness. Also, I would LOVE to see Enso open sourced. Good luck guys.


I just discovered your ideas & products a few days ago…

Now I see this post, I think you share a lot of things with my point of view about how web and desktop applications are not interconnected. And how poeple missuse these concepts all the time.

The applications are pieces should be put together, but rightnow we are not designing them to accomplish that.

I will contact you when my first semantic ui see the light ;)

Good luck in Mozilla guys!

Congratulations! All those constructive critiques of Firefox seem to have produced some interesting fruit, indeed. I look forward to seeing what you guys produce.

Despite all the euphoria, I’m kinda sad that Humanized didn’t make it on their own.

And I’m nervous that the people at Mozilla implementing Mr Raskin’s designs might pollute them by adding their own “enhancements”.

Nevertheless, the extra resources may be liberating and I wish you the best of luck.

Scott Stuckey

I hate to sound like the sole dissenter. I have been a rabid Enso/Humanized fan and have coerced many users to adopt Enso technology and become Humanized customers.

I just fear that, like many other companies, products and even employees, the mindset will become:
“…lets go in this direction – do a little of everything pretty good and not target doing one thing with excellence.”

The world seems to work on the unwritten law – “Better, faster, easier, cheaper – but you can only have 3 of the 4.”
“Freedom/cheaper” usually comes at a cost.

Example – Look at the watering down of “DEFINE” It used to give a definition on a transparent screen for my reference (and possibly use “PUT”). Now it opens a new browser window that I have to cut and paste (no put) and then “CLOSE/ALT F4″. More steps. How is this more humane?

Because it’s smaller or free seems to fly in the face of Humanized’s first blogs and philosophies.

I hope that development continues but I think we have been warned in Global Corporate Speak – “The next couple of months are going to be a TRANSITION period for us, as we work on charting the course for FORMER Humanized projects in the Mozilla world” {my emphasis}.


Congratulations!. I sincerely cant wait to see the results, the potential change you can make is huge.

Please set Enso FREE; for real this time.


It leaves me rather sad. I’m a convinced user and have seen Enso as the ultimate acid test of usability vs. marketability: Can a product whose *only* feature is usability become an economic success and sustain itself? Or will projects like this always have to sustained by funding (or other cross-financing like book revenues, consulting fees, etc)?

If Enso had become an economic success, I would have welcomed this as a sign for a long-awaited paradigm shift. This is a blow for those of us who want to convince management that usability is not some fluffy academic thingy, but that you can really *sell* usability.

Stephen Wooten

I mean, this might be newsworthy enough to entitle you to a free iced-grande-easy-mocha-extra-ice-mocha or a venti extra diabetes whatever! Keep up the hard work!

Chris Benz

Cool move! I’ve been an Enso-lover since day one. I bought it and I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. If you bring the same dedication and insight to Mozilla Labs that you brought to Enso, you’re going to make a lot of frustrated non-geeks very happy. That observation about being able to put a Google map in a gmail message hit me where I live.




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Towards this end, we made Enso entirely free (yes, we are thinking about open source as well). This is our first step in helping the ideas behind Enso — the linguistic command line and universal access to services — ubiquitous.

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