For many years people with visual impairments and the legally blind have paid a steep price to access the Web on Windows-based computers. The market-leading software for screen readers costs well over $1,000. The high price is a considerable obstacle to keeping the Web open and accessible to all. The NVDA Project has developed an open source screen reader that is free to download and to use, and which works well with Firefox. NVDA aligns with one of the Mozilla Manifesto’s principles: “The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.”
That’s why, at Mozilla, we have elected to give the project $15,000 in the inaugural round of our Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) “Mission Partners” awards. The award will help NVDA stay compatible with the Firefox browser and support a long-term relationship between our two organizations. NVDA is just one of eight grantees in a wide range of key disciplines and technology areas that we have chosen to support as part of the MOSS Mission Partners track. This track financially supports open source software projects doing work that meaningfully advances Mozilla’s mission and priorities.Giving Money for Open Source Accessibility, Privacy, Security and More
Aside from accessibility, security and privacy are common themes in this set of awards. We are supporting several secure communications tools, a web server which only works in secure mode, and a distributed, client-side, privacy-respecting search engine. The set is rounded out with awards to support the growing Rust ecosystem and promote open source options for the building of compelling games on the Web. (Yes, games. We consider games to be a key art-form in this modern era, which is why we are investing in the future of Web games with WebAssembly and Open Web Games.)
MOSS is a continuing program. The Mission Partners track has a budget for 2016 of around US$1.25 million. The first set of awards listed below total US$385,000 and we look forward to supporting more projects in the coming months. Applications remain open both for Mission Partners and for the Foundational Technology track (for projects creating software that Mozilla already uses or deploys) on an ongoing basis.
We are greatly helped in evaluating applications and making awards by the MOSS Committee. Many thanks again to them.And The Winners Are….
The first eight awardees are:
Tor: $152,500. Tor is a system for using a distributed network to communicate anonymously and without being tracked. This award will be used to significantly enhance the Tor network’s metrics infrastructure so that the performance and stability of the network can be monitored and improvements made as appropriate.
Tails: $77,000. Tails is a secure-by-default live operating system that aims at preserving the user’s privacy and anonymity. This award will be used to implement reproducible builds, making it possible for third parties to independently verify that a Tails ISO image was built from the corresponding Tails source code.
Caddy: $50,000. Caddy is an HTTP/2 web server that uses HTTPS automatically and by default via Let’s Encrypt. This award will be used to add a REST API, web UI, and new documentation, all of which make it easier to deploy more services with TLS.
Mio: $30,000. Mio is an asynchronous I/O library written in Rust. This award will be used to make ergonomic improvements to the API and thereby make it easier to build high performance applications with Mio in Rust.
DNSSEC/DANE Chain Stapling: $25,000. This project is standardizing and implementing a new TLS extension for transport of a serialized DNSSEC record set, to reduce the latency associated with DANE and DNSSEC validation. This award will be used to complete the standard in the IETF and build both a client-side and a server-side implementation.
Godot Engine: $20,000. Godot is a high-performance multi-platform game engine which can deploy to HTML5. This award will be used to add support for Web Sockets, WebAssembly and WebGL 2.0.
PeARS: $15,500. PeARS (Peer-to-peer Agent for Reciprocated Search) is a lightweight, distributed web search engine which runs in an individual’s browser and indexes the pages they visit in a privacy-respecting way. This award will permit face-to-face collaboration among the remote team and bring the software to beta status.
NVDA: $15,000. NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows. This award will be used to make sure NVDA and Firefox continue to work well together as Firefox moves to a multi-process architecture.
This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more award announcements as we allocate funds. Open Source is a movement that is only growing, both in numbers and in importance. Operating in the open makes for better security, better accessibility, better policy, better code and, ultimately, a better world. So if you know any projects whose work furthers the Mozilla Mission, send them our way and encourage them to apply.
In a post earlier this month, I mentioned the importance of building a network of people who can help us identify and recruit potential Board level contributors and senior advisors. We are also currently working to expand both the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation Boards.
The role of a Mozilla Board member
At Mozilla, we invite our Board members to be more involved with management, employees and volunteers than is generally the case. It’s not that common for Board members to have unstructured contacts with individuals or even sometimes the management team. The conventional thinking is that these types of relationships make it hard for the CEO to do his or her job. We feel differently. We have open flows of information in multiple channels. Part of building the world we want is to have built transparency and shared understandings.
We also prefer a reasonably extended “get to know each other” period for our Board members. Sometimes I hear people speak poorly of extended process, but I feel it’s very important for Mozilla. Mozilla is an unusual organization. We’re a technology powerhouse with a broad Internet openness and empowerment mission at its core. We feel like a product organization to those from the nonprofit world; we feel like a non-profit organization to those from the Internet industry.
It’s important that our Board members understand the full breadth of Mozilla’s mission. It’s important that Mozilla Foundation Board members understand why we build consumer products, why it happens in the subsidiary and why they cannot micro-manage this work. It is equally important that Mozilla Corporation Board members understand why we engage in the open Internet activities of the Mozilla Foundation and why we seek to develop complementary programs and shared goals.
I want all our Board members to understand that “empowering people” encompasses “user communities” but is much broader for Mozilla. Mozilla should be a resource for the set of people who care about the open Internet. We want people to look to Mozilla because we are such an excellent resource for openness online, not because we hope to “leverage our community” to do something that benefits us.
These sort of distinctions can be rather abstract in practice. So knowing someone well enough to be comfortable about these takes a while. We have a couple of ways of doing this. First, we have extensive discussions with a wide range of people. Board candidates will meet the existing Board members, members of the management team, individual contributors and volunteers. We’ve been piloting ways to work with potential Board candidates in some way. We’ve done that with Cathy Davidson, Ronaldo Lemos, Katharina Borchert and Karim Lakhani. We’re not sure we’ll be able to do it with everyone, and we don’t see it as a requirement. We do see this as a good way to get to know how someone thinks and works within the framework of the Mozilla mission. It helps us feel comfortable including someone at this senior level of stewardship.
What does a Mozilla Board member look like
Job descriptions often get long and wordy. We have those too but, for the search of new Board members, we’ve tried something else this time: a visual role description.
Here is a short explanation of how to read these visuals:
- The horizontal lines speaks to things that every Board member should have. For instance, to be a Board member, you have to care about the mission and you have to have some cultural sense of Mozilla, etc. They are a set of things that are important for each and every candidate. In addition, there is a set of things that are important for the Board as a whole. For instance, we could put international experience in there or whether the candidate is a public spokesperson. We want some of that but it is not necessary that every Board member has that.
- In the vertical green columns, we have the particular skills and expertise that we are looking for at this point.
- We would expect the horizontal lines not to change too much over time and the vertical lines to change depending on who joins the Board and who leaves.
I invite you to look at these documents and provide input on them. If you have candidates that you believe would be good Board members, send them to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list. We will use real discretion with the names you send us.
We’ll also be designing a process for how to broaden participation in the process beyond other Board members. We want to take advantage of the awareness and the cluefulness of the organization. That will be part of a future update.