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The Economist on Mitchell Baker 122

Posted by Zonk
from the lizard-wrangler-and-fox-driver dept.
Sara Chan writes "The Economist has a story about a trapeze artist who, in her spare time, is the Chief Lizard Wrangler at a non-profit. You perhaps know her as Mitchell Baker, leader of Firefox." From the article: "Ms Baker gradually found herself the leader of this project. Perhaps this is because she is a somewhat unusual member of the Netscape diaspora. For a start, she is a woman in a community populated, as one (male) colleague puts it, by geeky males with 'spare time and no social life'. Ms Baker herself has never even written code. She studied Chinese at Berkeley, and then became a lawyer--her role at the old Netscape was in software licensing. On all technical matters, she defers to Brendan Eich, her chief geek."
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The Economist on Mitchell Baker

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  • More about her... (Score:5, Informative)

    by skochak (723803) <sarvagyak@NoSpAM.yahoo.com> on Friday December 16, 2005 @10:40AM (#14271452)
    Trained as a lawyer, Baker coordinates business and policy issues and sits on the both Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors and the Mozilla Corporation Board of Directors. In 2005, Time magazine included her in the 2005 Time 100, the magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Baker [wikipedia.org]

  • This is not a troll. And, I agree it is unfortunate. However, I saw Mitchell Baker being interviewed by Charlie Rose. She was amazingly socially unsophisticated. She said she had no technical knowledge, but is a lawyer. She gave the impression that she needs to be replaced by someone more capable.

    She gave such a poor account of herself that Charlie Rose was visibly embarrassed. That's the only time I've seen Charlie Rose embarrassed in the many years I've watched his interviews.

    Don't think you are being loyal to Mozilla by supporting someone who is so obviously not suited to be a leader.
    • Socially inept? Maybe that explains why she gets along with so many geeks? Are you a geek? Are you at the wrong website?
      • In fairness, one data point does not a useful judgement make.
        What was the mental/physical context of the interview? How much lead time did the interviewee have? How many on-camera hours had the interviewee logged prior to the debacle in question?
        I'm reminded of teh 1992 vice-presidential debates, when now-deceased VADM James Stockdale looked horrible on camera. Yet, all nonsense aside, he was an impeccable of leadership and courage. Say what you will of Perot. ;)
        The fact that she's performed as a tra
    • by headkase (533448) on Friday December 16, 2005 @10:49AM (#14271508)
      I think she's proven as a decision maker and project manager although.
    • Unfortunately, the Charlie Rose show charges $30 for a copy of the show on which Mitchell Baker appeared [charlierose.com].

      Transcripts are cheaper, but the Charlie Rose show does not guarantee the accuracy of its transcripts.
    • She was amazingly socially unsophisticated.

      I'm not sure what that means. Could you elaborate?

      She said she had no technical knowledge, but is a lawyer. She gave the impression that she needs to be replaced by someone more capable.

      You are hiding behind a linguistic construct called the passive voice to express an opinion. But what is the basis for your opinion? You simply do not say.

      • Not sure if you're trolling or serious, but nothing the GP wrote was in the passive voice. The GP provided a clear subject, object and predicate in each sentence.

        If he had been using the passive voice, he would have written: "It was said she had no technical knowledge, but is a lawyer. The impression was given that she needs to be replaced by someone more capable." Your criticism would then be valid.

        As it stands, the GP clearly stated an opinion, and stated the basis for that opinion: He watched the show an
        • Not sure if you're trolling or serious,

          I was not trolling, no.

          but nothing the GP wrote was in the passive voice. The GP provided a clear subject, object and predicate in each sentence.

          This:

          She gave the impression that she needs to be replaced

          You say:

          If he had been using the passive voice, he would have written: "It was said she had no technical knowledge, but is a lawyer. The impression was given that she needs to be replaced by someone more capable." Your criticism would then be

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't think you are being loyal to Mozilla by supporting someone who is so obviously not suited to be a leader.

      Are you sure you know what you're talking about? Geroge Dubya is just as unsophisticated, has given many more highly embarrassing interviews, has practically no knowledge whatsoever, and also gives the impression that he needs to be replaced by someone more capable. And yet he's the leader of.... ...damn, you're right after all!
    • She gave such a poor account of herself that Charlie Rose was visibly embarrassed.

      There's this view in the tech world that in order to be head of a great software development house you have to be a geek. This is rubbish.

      Developing what it takes to be a great software company is just the same as being great in any other industry. It take three things from a leader to mak this happen:

      • Instill good displine.
      • Be aware of knowing what's going on an all aspects of the enterprise.
      • And above all els
      • ...add to that, you don't have to be a "geek" to be a good anything. That label is already an anachronism from a time when the unwashed masses couldn't find the power switch on a TRS-80. The last few jobs I've had, I landed with those who hired me stating point blank that one of the important qualifications was _not_ being a "geek" i.e. social skills are required, perhaps also the ability to show up for a meeting and not be dressed like the janitor and possibly when chatting with the CEO, have something to
    • by ajnsue (773317) on Friday December 16, 2005 @11:25AM (#14271736)
      That is the best thing I have heard in a long time. A person who is not slick or commercial - becoming an effective leader of a succesful project. Makes you think that competency had something to do with her accomplishments rather that self-marketing.
      This and the sentencing of Ebbers and other CEO's makes me think that maybe the Earth is slowly being returned to its correct ethical axis
    • This seems to be a leadership problem: There is a huge well-known bug in Firefox 1.5, the CPU and memory hogging bug. Developers refuse to fix it, even though anyone can demonstrate the bug easily. Apparently there is some kind of social problem. Maybe no one has the authority to deal with a major bug. It seems to be the kind of problem that can exist when a programming team is led by someone with no technical knowledge.

      This bug has been reported to Bugzilla, and is very easy to reproduce (see below), bu
      • This may be related...

        Anyone know if the compressed images leak has been fixed?

        i.e.

        Firefox (on Windows) can and will suck up an infinite amount of memory. This is because under some circumstances (Well, always, at least for me and many other users) it does NOT remove the uncompressed images from memory when a tab is closed.

        Compressed Images Leak [slashdot.org]

        • I remember that memory problem. It was fixed earlier this year, and the fix is definately in Firefox 1.5. I was able to get Mozilla (with great difficultly, mind you) to use up a few dozen extra megabytes of RAM more than it should have. It never resulted in sucking up all the memory on your system as the comment above states. And it wasn't a leak -- when a leak occurs the only thing that can free the memory is exiting the application. With this bug, memory was released at some point later.
      • Perhaps this is some indication of general impedance mismatch in open source.

        I have had somewhat similar problems with Evolution. It is a great email client, however currently it doesn't work with two out of total of three POP3 e-mail accounts I actively use, which is a shame. I have reported the bug ( http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=311656 [gnome.org] for details if anyone cares), but for whatever reason it hasn't been accepted. (Blaming the problems on the e-mail provider is absurd)

        Now, I don't want to

    • Don't think you are being loyal to Mozilla by supporting someone who is so obviously not suited to be a leader.

      And don't make the mistake that a good leader must necessarily be a social maven. The only requirement is that they can make decisions that lead the organzation to success. Good social skills are a plus, but not necessary. That's what a PR department is for. :)
    • On one hand a good leader doesn't have to be an expert in the field. A good leader just has to know where to go to get the right answers and be able to tell crapola from shinola. Then make the right decisions based on that.

      On the other hand good leaders generally don't parade their short comings for all to see. It's unfortunately she doesn't have more confidence in herself.
      --
      Q
    • Here's a quote from the Economist article about Mitchell Baker: 'For a start, she is a woman in a community populated, as one (male) colleague puts it, by geeky males with "spare time and no social life". Ms Baker herself has never even written code. She studied Chinese at Berkeley, and then became a lawyer -- her role at the old Netscape was in software licensing. On all technical matters, she defers to Brendan Eich, her chief geek.'

      Although, as the Economist article says, Mitchell Baker "gradually foun
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is not a troll.

      Then allow me to congratulate you on a remarkable imitation
    • I must be missing something. Why on earth would Charlie Rose care to interview some random lawyer for an OSS project? If you're going to interview someone involved (which I doubt he'd care to do considering the subject in the first place) at least interview someone who makes decisions and isn't just a "wrangler". Christ, a secretary (aka "administrative assistant") is a "wrangler" for all that matters.
  • well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by know1 (854868) on Friday December 16, 2005 @10:49AM (#14271511)
    even though she doesn't write any code, they figured having a woman telling the developers what to do would be the best way to get them to obey as they were used to taking orders off their mothers/wives

    i kid, i kid, posting this from firefox, keep up the good work guys
    • sometimes i wonder what sins could be forgiven on /. were one to close with "but hey, i love FF. linux rules. fuck bill gates!" i'm guessing you could post a neonazi tirade and get modded up +4 insightful by ending with the correct salutory.
      • I think it's called "playing devil's advocate" where you look at the other side of a problem as if it were your viewpoint, even if it was just to analyze it, not necessarily trolling.
  • who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by versiondub (694793)
    OSS's draw is in its lack of a social strata. If geeks had to socialize in order to make great products like firefox, then microsoft would be a much happier company.
  • Ms Baker herself has never even written code.

    I'm sorry if this comes across as a troll or flamebait post (it's not intended as either; it's honest criticism), but I've unfortunately got to say it shows in Mozilla. Many of the higher-ups don't seem to know or care much about the code at all. Mitchell Baker is just one example of an incompetent person with a high-up position in the Mozilla organisation; Asa Dotzler is another, as is David Baron. Now, the latter two may actually have contributed code (I t

    • by hkmwbz (531650)

      "but both have shown that they ultimately care more about marketing than about code quality"

      Well duh! Other people are taking care of the coding. And face it, it's the marketing which has given Firefox ten per cent of the browser market.

      "And I will tell my story to everyone who's interested in it so they'll be able to see through the marketing and the hype, too, which seems to be all that you are focussing on these days."

      Gee. It's because of the marketing that Mozilla can make lots of money from G

    • Thanks for filing Mozilla bugs, but no need to rant. You've made a lot of wrong assumptions and assertions.

      David Baron is, in fact, writing enormous amounts of code. He is close to being finished with rewriting the entire reflow system of Gecko (= progressive page loading).

      Mozilla Foundation is no longer developing future versions of the (1.7) suite. A different team of developers has taken it over, and renamed it SeaMonkey. So complaining about their inability to fix a Suite-only problem is fairly

    • There is not a single day where I don't have to kill Mozilla from the task manager or where it does not crash.

      There is not a single day where I have to kill Mozilla from the task manager or where it crashes.

      Fixed. Mozilla? Crash? Ridiculous. Mozilla doesn't crash. Firefox does. Seamonkey does. Mozilla? Never. I've been using Mozilla for years. Of the extremely rare crashes I've experienced, most can be chalked up to OS instability (Windows in need of a rebuild) or a specific hardware incompatibility with 1.

    • Maybe it is just you. Why is it that I do not see the same errors you are reporting? On average I have 3-4 windows with over 20 tabs total and it is rock solid. And this is on a Win2K box.

  • by DaFallus (805248)
    a story about a trapeze artist who, in her spare time, is the Chief Lizard Wrangler

    Sounds like the synopsis of a porno movie.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpcNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday December 16, 2005 @12:37PM (#14272291) Homepage
    About what the article actually points out. The fact is that the Firefox browser has been well guided, is a superb open source tool that forced M$ to begin investing in web-related innovation again.

    Other main fact is that I have not had one browser based attack succeed on my main computers (work or home), compared to the M$ fiascos that cause a significant amount of our company's IT budget to be consumed in "silly patchwork" fixes, and it doesn't matter to me what Ms. Baker looks like or how much code she has/hasn't written.

    What matters is that Firefox and Thunderbird have been well guided, to the extent that there needs to be enough profitibility in a related enterprise to defend both against corporate, copycat, or cracker type attacks.

    Sure, Mozilla is our pet lizard, but wouldn't you rather have a good chief lizard wrangler than nobody?

  • Mitchell Baker declared "Wired" Magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive.
  • by mspohr (589790) on Friday December 16, 2005 @02:42PM (#14273338)
    Let's see... The Economist posts a complimentary article on a woman who is heading the Mozilla org saying nice things about what she has done to help revive competition in the browser world.

    So far we have...

    - she's ugly

    - she's socially inept

    - she's a lawyer

    - she has a bad hair cut

    - she's obviously "not a leader"

    - she's not a geek (this was posted as a bad thing)

    - she doesn't care about the code

    - she only cares about marketing

    - Mozilla never fixed my pet bug (several times).

    - the software crashes on me every day

    Back to your basements, little boys, or your mother will spank you.

  • I thought that Ben Goodger was the leader of Firefox.

    Oh well, he's Lead Engineer, at any rate... the position that counts.

  • Most "tech innovations" and "tech-hype" are coming from non-tech people, especially from business folk or ex-lawyers. She should have mention her dedicated tech staff for being her brain trust--unfortunately she didn't.

    And thus reminds me of what friend of mine said (he's a gen. consel):

    In the end, laywers always win (cha-ching).

    We are obviously studied the wrong subject if we wanted to spur innovation.

  • Real person involved with computers. Shocking.

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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