Move over Whole Foods! The Mozilla corporation, creator of the superb Firefox web browser, has declared their software to be 100% organic. In a revealing interview with with Treehugger, Paul Kim, Mozilla VP, who helped launch Firefox 1.5 and 2.0., he explains why the term is relevant.
According Kim, Mozilla is not trying to create a new model. Instead, what they're trying to do is "to help new sets of people who know nothing about open source software quickly start to understand that Firefox is something different from the software they're currently using to access the Web. 'Organic software' is a concept we came up with that we thought would resonate with end users in ways that 'free software' doesn't. I think 'free software', at least in the US, doesn't carry the same valence that 'FLOSS' does in, say, Europe."
For people in the open source movement, Kim, continues, the term 'organic' is a lot clearer and immediately graspable. "I think in the broader culture, and again I'm speaking of the US, the word 'free' gets filtered through a consumer lens. So yes, it's a terminology issue for end users - trying to communicate clearly what practitioners already grok."
Kim believes that Firefox both respects the user, but ut it also respects open standards, which create a level playing field for any individual/company/organization to create Web content for others. And it is a manifestation of Mozilla's core belief in the importance of providing vehicles for participation on the Internet.
"I think there is something more primal about open source," Kim continued "more primal than communism or capitalism. It is the ability for anyone who has the passion and knowledge to make things better. I think I would bore with you tales of what I've seen from the programmers I work with - heroic efforts to fix security issues that require all nighters. You don't' do that kind of thing if it's just a job."
"So organic as it relates to labor process; I think the pastoral myth has at its core a notion of land and farmer bound together in a virtuous cycle. I like to think that in open source software development, we've recaptured some of that goodness. We're set up as a public benefit organization owned by a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation, and we view our work as a public trust."
Firefox is global and local. They shipped Firefox 2 in over 35 language versions the day it was released. "And that's because we have a huge volunteer localization community. For example, Firefox is available in all 11 official South African languages. Contrast that to, say, Internet Explorer 7, which shipped in one language at first release."