So by now, you all know that Mozilla turned twenty. What was March 31, 1998 in California, for this news was April 1st in France when we arrived at the office. The April fool day is not a very trustable day in term of news (which is kind of ironic where the expression fake news took another meaning.); Meanings are fluid.
So I sent an email to an alumni mailing-list of work colleagues from our previous workplace (A French Web agency where we all started to code websites in between 1995 and 1997. There are stories) on April 1st, 1998.
La vraie nouvelle du jour
c'est le code source de Netscape.
Which can be roughly translated as "The real news today. It's the Netscape source code." The answer to my message arrived a bit later that day with a very prosaic and down to earth question from one of my ex-colleagues.
My question might be a bit dumb, but what is the purpose of having Netscape source code?
This is a difficult question to answer. Specifically 20 years ago. There were plenty of open source projects already. But the concept of open source was not as known or marketed as it is today. Now, most of the major browsers have their code opensource and the topics related to "open source" have moved from the technology sphere to the society sphere.
And for most of the people behind a computer moving the cursor toward a button and clicking, the relevance of open source is as distant as the concept of nuclear fission when they push the switch to put the light on. And probably, it's fine… until something bad is happening and it's too late.
It was a good reminder for me today on what we often assume to be natural today where not just a quarter of a lifetime ago. This goes along with a younger generations of Web developers who were born after the Web and don't have the same assumptions about Web architecture ideas.
Happy anniversary Mozilla.