Happy Birthday, Mozilla

Today marks 20 years since, open-source software entity, Mozilla was founded. I have been lucky enough to have been involved in Mozilla for four years now–mainly as a translator and, most recently, as a developer on projects within the localization team.

Mozilla is a purpose-driven organization and community that does much good in the physical and cyber world. So, to celebrate two decades of Mozilla, I wanted to share my experience as a contributor.

Four years ago, I was an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, majoring in Spanish translation. In my search for extracurricular activities related to my field, I found that Mozilla hosted Localization Sprints on campus every month and a half. My first several interactions with Mozilla were at these sprints.

For those who don’t know what a localization sprint is:

Localization is a broad term for the industry of language translation. It encompasses the translation work itself, along with the business and technical aspects that happen behind the scenes. What we end up seeing most as consumers are the mistakes in localization (such as this mistake that made headlines yesterday, where a Groupon seller posted shoes that were described with a racial slur – link).

A Sprint is an event where people, who wouldn’t normally gather together, meet up to do a large amount of work in one day. Back when I was at BYU, Mozilla L10n did sprints regularly, but I don’t think they happen too often now because translators live too far away from each other.

Getting back to the narrative, I really enjoyed these sprints. At the time I had very little experience in translation (although I was a professional interpreter) and I don’t know if I had heard the word “localization” prior to being invited to the sprint.

My future involvement in Mozilla L10n would result in a long list of professional skills and active volunteer service that fills my résumé today. This is not an exaggeration in any means. When I first started contributing to Mozilla as a translator, I had very little experience and a ton of ignorance when it came to actual translation work. Through those contributions, I learned what a translation workflow looks like, what tools translators used and how to use them, and additional skills (e.g. programming) that I use today in my career.

In my mind, I am still very new to the world of open-source, but it is that very nature of Mozilla that sustains its purpose. Because Mozilla is an open-source organization, it becomes a community, rather than a company. The employees are the organized effort of Mozilla’s purpose, and they help recruit and organize the volunteers that drive the mission forward.

BTW, you can read Mozilla’s mission here on their manifesto. The open-source nature of Mozilla is declared in Principle 8.

In my–possibly biased–opinion, Mozilla does it’s part to make the world a better place by making the internet a better place. And, in a weird, self-sustaining circle, it does this by asking people to be better people through volunteering. The community aspect of Mozilla keeps its projects founded on what people need rather than how to monetize needs, wants, and consumption.

Some may disagree with how Mozilla tries to bring about positive change–I’m not here to argue policy… today–but I want people to know about this organization and how they can get involved, maybe even steer Mozilla in the right direction if they think it’s off course.

BTW, if you want to get involved, you can visit this webpage. There are tons of ways to promote Mozilla’s mission.

I guess, the narration ends with my internship last summer and this upcoming summer on the L10n Drivers team. I consider myself extremely lucky to have worked with the L10n staff and many localization communities and to be returning this summer to work with the driver’s tech team. This summer’s internship will be the culminating project of my master’s degree at the University of Washington, and I couldn’t be more excited to contribute to Project Fluent and possibly apply some machine learning methods to the localization workflow at Mozilla.

So, happy birthday, Mozilla! Thanks to the community for everything you’ve done to show me how to be me and dedicate my time and talents to my passions. Here’s to many more decades of rocking the free web!