mercredi 21 novembre 2018

European privacy-by-design companies get visibility boost

Nice to see the English-speaking world shed some light on what’s going on in Europe with regards to privacy:

mercredi 11 mars 2015

Why I'm joining Cozy Cloud (hint: personal cloud matters)

Cozy Cloud

TL; DR : I am joining the leadership team of a very cool French startup called Cozy Cloud as Chief Product Officer. My book about online privacy and mass surveillance is almost finalized. The world needs Cloud solutions that enable users to have control over their data.

I’m joining Cozy Cloud as their Chief Product Officer.

It did not take me long to find a new very cool job. Cool, because it’s really aligned with my values. I suspect that most of my English readers haven’t heard about Cozy Cloud, so let me explain. In short, Cozy is a Free Libre Open Source piece of Software that runs on a personal server (such as a Rasbperry PI 2) and its goal is to offer a personal Cloud so that user can enjoy the benefits of the Cloud while retaining control of their data.

My role at Cozy Cloud will be to increase the number of users of the platform, engage with apps developers so that they build apps for the platform and also to find new contributors to the product.

Another cool side of this job is that the team is small, self-motivated and technically amazing. The energy they put into the project made me accept their offer. (They’re also very nice people).

My book (in French) on privacy and mass surveillance is almost done

What does it have to do with my new job? It’s simple: when writing the book, I thought about Information Systems that would Give Back Control to Users (in French, it becomes SIRCUS, which sounds a lot better than in English). Such systems must respect the 7 following principles:

  1. Open source software, so that we know what’s running and what’s happening to our data
  2. Server control, ideally with self-hosting
  3. Encryption, as the network cannot be trusted
  4. A sustainable business model (not based on targeted advertising, as it encourages services to profile users and gather as much personal data as possible)
  5. Great UX. (Worth repeating)
  6. Standards-based and inter-operable
  7. Unique value proposal for the user that differentiate the offer from centralized silos.

This one looks like a mystery until you study what Cozy is working on. The fact that users control the server enables completely new ways of using personal data. One can imagine mashing up phone bills details with an address book. Instead of having a long list of numbers called, we would get a list of names. This is just an example, but tons of other use cases can be imagined around electricity bills, bank statements, quantified self data and such…

The world needs cloud services that respect users

It became even more obvious when I was working on my book: centralizing personal data in huge silos in order to generate targeted advertising is not sustainable. As users, we’re trading our invaluable personal data against cheap service (Facebook costs roughly $5 a year per person). On top of that, centralizing data makes mass surveillance economically feasible. And we know how bad this can be.

This does not mean that we should all get rid of cloud services. They’re useful. We just should not have to trade all of our data to enjoy them.

Some perspective

In 2003, 13 years ago, I co-founded Mozilla Europe in order to launch Firefox because it was very clear that the Internet Explorer monopoly was killing the Web.

In 2015, it’s obvious that big proprietary cloud silos are a threat to our personal data and liberties. We need an alternative.

Is it reasonable, with a small startup to decide to challenge the Google, Facebook and other huge services? No it’s not. But it’s tempting and we could succeed. IT’s just like in 2003 when I told people around me that a non-profit with a handful of employees was going after the 95% market share of Internet Explorer by giving away open source software. It worked.

I’m walking in Oscar Wilde’s footstep in this respect:

Wisdom is to have dreams big enough not to lose sight when we pursue them.

mardi 3 février 2015

Au revoir Mozilla

TL; DR: I’m leaving Mozilla. I’m writing a book. I’m a coach. I still plan to change the world with Open Source and Free Software and the Web.

The paragraph above sums it up pretty well. In case you’re interested in a little more details, here they are:

I’m leaving Mozilla

I have decided that starting mid-February 2015, I won’t be an employee of Mozilla anymore, but I’ll keep being a Mozillian and I’ll continue working with Mozilla as an advisor.

I remember being summoned in the Netscape Europe General Manager’s office early January 1998 to discuss a surprising announcement about what would be called the “Mozilla project”, which would host the now opened source code of Netscape Communicator. I totally fell in love with this idea which I was familiar with since I had met Richard M. Stallman in the mid-80’s in Paris as I was an Emacs user. I started right away helping the Mozilla project with PR in Europe and giving talks locally. I vividly remember one of these talks at ENST engineering school in Paris. The crowd was super excited and I felt like a rock star :-)

And the rest is history… Here are a few memorable moments:

I started managing Netscape Client developer relations in Europe from 2001 to 2003 where I helped launching the OpenWeb community project. In July 2003, AOL/Netscape/Time Warner decided to give up on the Mozilla Project and employees working on it where reassigned or let go. Soon after, Peterv and I get in touch with Mozilla community members (hi Pascal & Pike!) and we decide together to create Mozilla Europe, a non-profit to develop the European side of Mozilla.

In February 2004 at FOSDEM, in Brussels, we announce that the legal structure has been created and we launch the Website (now retired), first localized Mozilla Website!

In November 2004, Firefox 1.0 is launched and is an instant hit. On the US side, Mozilla Foundation starts to see some revenue coming in thanks to T-shirt sales then the Google deal. It now can afford to financially support Mozilla Europe. In April 2005, after 21 months of unemployement, I finally receive a paycheck! Considering the state of my bank account and my stress level, it’s pretty good news!

By end 2011, it’s becoming obvious that growing Mozilla in Europe cannot be done through an independent legal structure. We decided to fold down Mozilla Europe’s legal structure and have its activities transferred to Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiaries. It’s a new chapter for the European board of Directors, but many projects that were initiated by Mozilla Europe are spreading throughout the world. for example MozCamps, Mozilla Reps and localization of products and Websites all started in Europe and are now global.

I’m writing a book

There is an issue that’s annoying me for several years: online privacy and mass surveillance. I started conversations within Mozilla around this at a time when the word “privacy” was not in the Mozilla Manifesto. I wrote blog posts on this topic. I have read thousands of articles, several books, compiled hundreds of links on my blog. I have invited the TOR Project for a work week at Mozilla in Paris. I have started a set of conferences around Internet Decentralisation to avoid surveillance. I was very happy to see Mozilla announce the Polaris project with TOR and I hope this is just the beginning for Mozilla.

But this is not enough. I think this is a very important issue that threatens democracy. I think that one of my talents is to explain complicated technical stuff to non-geeks. I have therefore decided to write a book on this topic, a book for a broad audience.

The issue for me is that it’s not compatible with a full time job at Mozilla. I had to make a choice and I have decided to focus on writing my book and leave Mozilla as an employee.

Open Source, Free Software and the Web

When in comes to on-line privacy and mass surveillance, people can have 3 different responses:

  1. Becoming Luddites and rejecting technology. I don’t think it makes sense as we’re in the middle of the digital revolution.
  2. Apathy and resignation. I think most people with end up choosing this path, thinking that loosing their on-line freedom and privacy is “inevitable” and maybe “not that problematic”. But I do know it’s avoidable and that yes, it’s really problematic. This is actually the theme of my whole book!
  3. Creating solutions that serve the users and which are controlled by them.

Of course, I’m going for the 3rd option. I am certain that the Web and Free & Open Source software can play a central role in solving the problem of vanishing on-line privacy and increasing mass surveillance. I will keep contributing to projects in this field, including Mozilla, but this time as a volunteer.

The Decentralized / Indie Web, combined with Open Source and Free Software, along with cryptography and innovative business models (other than targeted advertising as we know it) can crack the nut.

I’m a coach

In 17 years with Mozilla, I have grown a lot and learned a lot. One of the best things I’ve learned is coaching and personal development.

In March 2012, I was invited to participate to a training called LEAD (Leadership Exploration and Development). It was a revelation to me. I was then offered to become a trainer for a similar personal development program called TRIBE . TRIBE is offered to all Mozillians, staff of not. This was a fantastic experience for me that enabled to grow. At the same time, I have been trained on the Co-Active Coaching (CTI) method and I am now a coach working with several clients. It’s an amazing experience! I plan to keep coaching a handful of people for the foreseeable future.


As I write these lines, I’m filled with gratitude for all that Mozilla has given me. It gave a meaning to my professional life. It gave me the opportunity to have an impact on hundreds of millions of people. It helped me learn new things that have changed my life for the better. It made me meet with amazingly smart, hard-working and generous people. I won’t name names, but you know who you are[1], with special thoughts for Mozilla volunteers. You’re my heroes, and I certainly plan to keep being one of yours.


[1] All right, I still need to: Mitchell Baker, Debbie Cohen, John Lilly, Peterv, Jb Piacentino, Pascal Chevrel and thousands of others.

mercredi 19 février 2014

Announcing Next Game Frontier


On March 13th, 2014, I'll be participating to a new conference, Next Game Frontier, which will take place at Microsoft's shiny conference center in Paris. I'll be discussing The Web as a platform for games - from WebGL to asm.js.

The theme for the conference is "games on the Web", with speakers discussing amazing stuff like WebGL, Babylon.js, asm.js, emscripten, along with educational resources such as Learning3js.

So, if you want to see how the Web is the next platform for games, come and sign up for Next Game Frontier on EventBrite and check out Next Game Frontier on!

vendredi 20 septembre 2013

Opening doors of the Paris Moz Space

the JEP Website

Last week-end, the Paris Mozilla Space has opened its door on both Saturday and Sunday for a special event: the "Journées Européennes du Patrimoine" aka "JEP" and "European Heritage Days". The JEP is an initiative encouraging people and organizations to open the doors of historical-interest places. It's now the 30th edition of the JEP in France, and it's now being organized in many countries in Europe.

Mozilla's Paris Space being located in the Hotel de Mercy-Argenteau, which was owned by the ambassador of Austria to the Queen Marie-Antoinette, it made sense to participate to the JEP initiative.

My colleague Jb Piacentino took the lead on this and organized the event. Employees and volunteers showed up to demo Firefox and Firefox OS while answering questions the public had (the most popular were "How does Mozilla make money?" and "when will Firefox OS be distributed in France?").

1250 visitors showed up on Saturday, and more than 2100 on Sunday, exceeding our expectations by far!

The Non-profit "Association 9eme Histoire" dispatcher volunteers historians who told the story of the building to visitors, with the help of the 9th Arrondissement city hall : Thierry Cazaux, Pauline Veron (who's also on Twitter!) and Nicolas Moulin.

Jb and I would like to thank all of the people involved in making this first participation of Mozilla such a huge success including non-paid staff. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to show the space we have in charge for future generations and also share excitement about Mozilla with people we rarely reach out to. I'm sure many people will try Firefox (desktop and Android) as a result!

mercredi 29 mai 2013

Is your focus prevention or promotion?

I have been thinking a lot recently about culture and how things are different on each side of the Atlantic ocean. What is the social norm here in Europe is different from what's socially accepted in the US. I've been observing and reading quite a bit on this topic, and earlier today I was reading on Dan's Pink blog a post about a book on prevention vs promotion. Dan asked the authors a couple of questions about focus. Here are their answers:

Some of us are red lights. We’re prevention-focused. Our overriding goals are to minimize losses, to feel secure, and to elude the looming possibility of failure. Some of us, meanwhile, are green lights. We’re promotion-focused. Our overriding goals are to maximize gains, to feel nurtured, and to take chances even if it means making big mistakes. Red lights aren’t better than green lights — or vice versa. But knowing your own focus — and, equally important, knowing the focus of those you’re trying to lead, teach, or woo — can make a huge difference.

The concept is interesting, and it resonates with me significantly. But is being Prevention-focused and promotion-focused innate or is it something we learn?

We aren’t born with a dominant focus, and we all use both promotion and prevention focus at least some of the time depending on the circumstances. But our upbringing at home and the culture surrounding us can make us more promotion or prevention-focused. How were you raised? When you did something wrong, did your parents punish you with extra chores (prevention) or withdraw their attention and affection (promotion)? What culture do you live in? Americans grow up in a society that praises individual accomplishments and loves innovators, making us more promotion-focused (on average) than societies that emphasizes rule-following and self-sacrifice. And yes, we can change over time because situations can put us in a promotion focus or a prevention focus, and when these situations are institutionalized, they can have stable long-term effects, as when people work in a company that itself has a promotion or prevention “culture.”

I would argue that even if I'm mostly prevention-focused, there is a lot more energy and positivity in being promotion-focused, in my opinion.

There is also the concept of motivational fit:

Motivational fit happens when your experience – the way you are working, the kind of task you are working on, or the feedback you receive – sustains or enhances your motivation. Promotion motivation feels like eagerness, a desire to really go for it. Being optimistic, working quickly and creatively, making choices based on the pros of each option, and being offered incentives framed in terms of potential gains all provide a motivational fit for someone who is promotion-focused.

Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance – being careful and on the look-out for problems. Being a realist (or even a skeptic), working slowly and accurately, making choices based on the cons of each option, and being offered the incentive to avoid losses, all create fit for prevention.

What strikes me is that education and parenting in the US tend to favor promotion motivation, while in Europe, prevention is a bigger part of the culture (which probably explains why entrepreneurship is less striving in countries like France).

But what's the impact when giving feedback?

Promotion-focused people thrive on optimism, so it’s really important to keep them feeling positive even when you are delivering bad news. They need to learn from their mistakes, but not dwell on them for too long. They also respond well to praise, and work best when they feel that they are making real progress toward their goal.

Prevention-focused people, on the other hand, aren’t optimists. (At least, the successful ones aren’t.) They are what psychologists call “defensive pessimists.” It’s not that they believe they will fail – that’s just plain pessimism, and that doesn’t work for anyone. It’s that they believe they might fail, if they don’t work hard and take the necessary steps to keep from getting derailed. This kind of thinking keeps them vigilant, and keeps their motivational machine humming.

This brings me to something that I have witnessed very often in my career, with American coworkers giving feedback to European counterparts:

Prevention-focused people are often visibly uncomfortable with too much optimism or praise – on an often unconscious level, they realize that having a sunny outlook would make them lower their guard, and that their work would suffer as a result. So avoid effusive praise with the prevention-focused – instead, give them honest, realistic feedback about how they might improve.

On the other hand, European, often prevention-focused, may sound harsh and/or rude for giving realistic feedback while praises are expected.

Batman slapping Robin

Above: "slightly" exaggerated version of how an American Robin perceives the feedback given by a European Batman ;-)[1]

Of course, this is just a tiny part of the story, but this is a nice explanation of culture disconnect that I have witnessed in global organizations over the year in my career (Netscape, AOL, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla) between Europe and the US. Conclusion? If you're prevention-focused, try to learn more about become more positive, you'll enjoy it. Also, be gentle when giving too honest and straightforward feedback to promotion-focused colleagues. It will mean a lot to them and they'll be listening harder: your message will come across more efficiently.


[1] Please note that Europeans do not slap their American counterparts, as they should not. It's just that straight honest feedback by someone who's promotion-focused feels like slapping when it comes from someone who's mostly prevention-focused.

mardi 29 janvier 2013

Firefox OS App Days in Paris

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence

Over the week-end, More than 150 people gathered in an engineering school classroom to learn, hack and celebrate:

  • Learn about HTML5 and Web applications.
  • Hack such applications for Firefox OS (and Firefox for Android) with the assistance of Mozilla hackers.
  • Celebrate that we're changing the world with what could become a universal mobile application platform.

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time!

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time![1]

Mozillians (paid staff and volunteers) gave talks about mobile development with HTML5 on Firefox OS, then the hacking session started, with Mozillians helping those who wanted. In the meantime, updates on Twitter connected us with the 25 or so other App Days events taking place around the world.

At the end of the day, 36 applications were ready to be demoed, and the authors of the best demos have received a voucher for the upcoming and very cool Firefox OS developer preview phones. Of course, everyone has been handed a T-shirt!

I would like to thank all the people who helped making this amazing event possible. I won't name names because I would surely forget someone, but you know who you are. The event was a blast and it demonstrated the hunger for an Open Web mobile platform like Firefox OS!

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence


[1] More photos.

mardi 23 octobre 2012

Blue Griffon EPUB Edition

BlueGriffon Epub Edition (bgee) logo

Tristan - So Daniel, you're launching BlueGriffon EPUB Edition

Daniel Glazman: Hi Tristan. Yes, it has been made available earlier today. The end of a long road!

Tristan - What problem is it trying to solve?

Daniel: People authoring and/or publishing EPUB ebooks today use a too complex and too expensive editorial chain. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition aims at drastically easing that pain.

BlueGriffon EPUB Edition implements all of EPUB2 and almost all of EPUB3, offering full UI-based control on metadata, table of contents, guide, spine, NCX and other exotic species of the EPUB world. And it's of course based on our popular Web editor BlueGriffon, so powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox. The application is not based on a proprietary format, it only knows IDPF standards (EPUB2 and 3) and W3C standards (HTML, CSS, SVG, etc.) and it's then easy to integrate it into the previously mentioned editorial chain to simplify it, replacing existing and complex other software or even manual hacks!

And the price is rather cheap, and that's quite disruptive in that space given the often very expensive price of everything tagged «EPUB» in the authoring space...

Tristan - How much does it cost?

Daniel: A license for a single user on a single computer will cost 195.00€. Software in the ebooks' world are usually (much) more expensive but we have decided to keep the price relatively low to allow individual authors to buy it. Please keep in mind BlueGriffon EPUB Edition is the result of two years of extremely hard work...

We will of course offer OEM licensing and discounts for multiple licenses (>10).

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Tristan - Who would be interested in using it?

Daniel: If I look at the many inquiries about BlueGriffon EPUB Editor we have received during the last twelve months, many different people: individual book authors, publishing companies, software companies working in that space, translators, Academia, private companies using EPUB in their Knowledge Management, etc.

As far as I know, it's the only real EPUB3 Wysiwyg editor on the market. With vertical writing about to hit a Gecko engine near us, it will be perfect for the Asian market and in particular the Japanese one where EPUB3 is already a hit.

Tristan - What are the alternatives for them?

Daniel: If you except the free Sigil that is restricted to EPUB2, offers less metadata control, has no CSS SVG or MathML editor, there is no alternative at this time. All existing solutions implement only part of what authors or publishers need. It implies they have to rely on manual cleanup based on deep technical knowledge, permanent switches between almost incompatible tools or tools based on proprietary formats and only exporting to EPUB but unable to open it...

Tristan - What does BlueGriffon EPUB Edition do that other solutions don't do?

Daniel: In two words: many things! I just can't list them all but here's a sample: real conformance to EPUB2 and EPUB3 specifications, conformance to XHTML1.1 (EPUB2) and HTML5 (EPUB3), one of the best CSS editors on the market, builtin SVG editor, builtin MathML editor, UI for epub:type, and much more. And since it's based on Gecko, it's truly Wysiwyg and also extensible through add-ons just like BlueGriffon, Firefox or Thunderbird.

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Tristan - What makes users choose BlueGriffon EPUB Edition instead of alternatives?

Daniel: Certainly three things:

  1. simplification of their editorial chain
  2. the long features list offering them a UI-based manipulation of their ebooks requiring less technical knowledge
  3. the low price

Tristan - Under which license is it? I understand that your work is based on the Mozilla codebase

Daniel: The codebase uses two licenses: since it's based on the Web editor BlueGriffon and then Mozilla, that part is MPL. The source is already available through the web site and our SVN. The extra code specific to EPUB is proprietary and won't be open-sourced.

Tristan - Are there options for customers, like add-ons for example?

Daniel: Not at this time since we already integrated our best BlueGriffon add-ons into the EPUB Edition bundle. But we have plans for EPUB-centric add-ons that we will release later this year, yes.

Tristan - What are the features that come with it that the "normal" version of BlueGriffon does not have?

Daniel: Of course, all the EPUB2 and EPUB3 management. On the HTML/CSS front, the EPUB Edition comes with our CSS Pro Editor, Table Layouts, Word Count, MathML Editor, Active View and Eye Dropper commercial add-ons built-in. We also tweaked a bit the theme, mostly changing the icon set, to make it look different from the Web editor version.

Tristan - how did you manage to release 4 binaries on 6 platforms? (Win XP, Win 7, Win 8, Mac OSX, GNU/Linux 32 bits & 64 bits)

Daniel: In 3 words : working a lot :-) More seriously, that's a benefit we (Mozilla contributors) all get from the Mozilla platform: one codebase, many builds. So all I have to do is to set up multiple build environments, launch builds, and collect final packages. Works like a charm. All praise Moz! Like I said on my blog, and I do mean it: "On the Mozilla side, this is quite good news I must say. Most current EPUB readers and authoring tools are based on WebKit or the rendering engine inside Apple Pages. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition shows that Gecko is a 100% viable solution as a rendering engine for EPUB. It also shows that XUL is still a superb technology allowing very complex consumer- or business-oriented applications."''

Tristan - Thanks Daniel, and good luck with this new edition of BlueGriffon!

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