November 14, 2008

The First Ubiquity Planning Meeting

Yesterday we had our first public Ubiquity planning meeting. What made this meeting particularly interesting for me was the fact that we were trying something a little different from most standard Mozilla project meetings I’ve attended.

Generally, project meetings consist of one group of people who are in the same room together and can communicate very efficiently while all the folks calling-in can barely hear them, dramatically increasing their barrier to participation. Jono, Aza, and I experienced this first-hand when we were still in Chicago at the beginning of this year and had to call-in to meetings in Mountain View; as Jono eloquently put it, “some people were huddled around the fire while others were cast into the outer darkness.”

So this time, we all tried calling in to the conference so that everyone was on a level playing field: despite the fact that Jono and I were in the same building, we actually were in separate rooms during the conference call. The result was something that I felt was much more egalitarian and didn’t confer any special advantages to people who happened to be geographically local.

That said, though, the sound quality still left something to be desired. Skyping-in to Mozilla’s Asterisk system resulted in horrible audio quality, and my call was unceremoniously dropped less than five minutes in. I then used my cell phone, which had slightly better audio quality. It was still a far cry from the crystal clarity of Ventrilo using GSM—a VOIP solution traditionally used in the context of multiplayer gaming yet perfect for these kinds of meetings—but unfortunately the GSM codec is only available on Windows, and apparently the proprietary software isn’t yet available at all on Linux. Perhaps I’ll just try SJPhone next time, though I’d love to hear of any better solutions.

Aside from that, we also encouraged everyone to simultaneously gather on the #ubiquity channel on IRC to provide an additional channel of communication. This was particularly useful when someone wanted to provide supporting information while another person was speaking, and for providing information that’s better communicated through a textual medium such as URLs and phone numbers.

I’ve written up some meeting notes on the wiki detailing what we agreed upon as a road-map for Ubiquity 0.2, which we’re aiming to release in December. Those who attended are welcome to add anything I missed. If you have any questions about what was discussed or would like to help out, you’re welcome to join us in the ubiquity-core Google group and #ubiquity on :)

© Atul Varma 2020