Firefox as a platform
Om Malik has an article in the November issue of Business 2.0 that sheds light on Firefox as a platform for application development. It's good to see this aspect of the Mozilla project getting attention. Mozilla technology is more than a means of experiencing today's web, it's a big step towards creating the extensible rich client of tomorrow's web.
In a recent interview, Ben Goodger had a few comments on the road ahead for Firefox as an application framework:
Some of our goals in the next 12-18 months include improvements to the core rendering technology to make web developers' lives easier and also "productizing" the application development platform if you will, so that people will be able to download a "XULrunner" (with Firefox, probably) and then run other compact applications on it.
If the push to neatly package and spread Firefox to end users is the first phase of adoption, the second will be the formalization and popularization of its development environment. Applications drive platform adoption. Right now, the excellent web browsing experience you get out of the box is driving adoption, this is the first application. Soon we'll see the development of third party XUL apps that, in and of themselves, can provide the incentive needed to download and install Firefox.
Jon Stewart upbraids Crossfire
Here's a clip I wish I'd seen sooner. If you have any angst surrounding the American political process this season, Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance is not to be missed. Delivering a much needed slap to political infotainment, Stewart quickly brings the hosts to task for their characteristic partisan rhetoric.
I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us ... you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate ... you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
An attack to which a befuddled Tucker Carlson eventually responds: "you're more fun on your show". Apparently, while all else is fair game, Crossfire itself is beyond reproach.
Stewart takes some flak for pulling punches in his Kerry interview, and responds by saying that his role is not that of a rigorous political interviewer. Is their a certain level of journalistic responsibility that should be expected of a program like The Daily Show? Yes. Should Crossfire be held to a higher standard? Absolutely. As Stewart put it, "You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls."
The Gilmore Gang on feeds in Firefox
The Gilmore Gang touched on the importance of feed aggregation in the Mozilla product line during last week's installment. Persistent feed storage and offline reading capability are mentioned frequently as key features. Considering the addition of RSS support in Thunderbird, Steve Gilmore asked:
Are we seeing the rise of a cross platform RSS aggregator that's essentially available for free from an open source group?
Just as there was a time when people were willing to pay for web browsers, aggregators are now getting their dollars from the early adopters. In time, the core feature set will be commoditized by FOSS projects and commercial offerings will be relegated to advanced users and special applications of the syndication standards. Fanning the flames of the RSS ubiquity push was Apple's announcement of Safari RSS at its WWDC in June. With user expectations raised, Firefox seems naked without a comparable offering. Scott Rafer, CEO of Feedster, remarked:
The Firefox guys have been trying to not upset the variety of Firefox plugins that are decent RSS aggregators, and they're going to have to give up and pick one at some point.. and at some point not very long in the future I would suspect.
Forumzilla gets mentioned as a candidate for integration. Haven't explored Forumzilla yet, but I understand that it's a Thunderbird extension allowing feeds to be manipulated though the mail reading interface, and that it's the basis for the newly added feed aggregation in Thunderbird itself.
Integrating with the email client does offer efficiency in the form of workflow reuse, but I see the browser as being the ideal spot to land feed reading functionality. The overlap between activities is just too strong to ignore. Sage is an attempt to leverage this overlap, and provide the simplicity required for mass adoption while offering enough features to woo power users. A big and increasingly important step for us will be to provide persistent storage of feed items, opening the door to another level of functionality.