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Mozilla Kicks Off Summer Code Party This Weekend in 67 Countries

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, June 21 2012

The Mozilla Foundation's Summer Code Party is kicking off this week-end with 400 events in 67 countries around the world.

Mozilla says that it wants to build a new generation of webmakers. It plans to do this by providing the global community with free tools, project ideas and instructions for holding successful events, all of which will happen between June 23 and September 23. Some of the participants will be invited to present their projects at the Mozilla festival in London in November.

The organizers of the event have planned it along the Marhall Ganz-school of house party organizing that characterized President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. That might have something to do with the fact that the senior manager of organizing at Mozilla is Ben Simon, who previously ran the digital campaigns team at Organizing for America.

There were two motivations behind this initiative, said Simon in an interview. One short-term reason was the "demonstrated thirst for this," and the long-term one is to create a technologically literate world population.

"If 20 years down the line -- whether they're professors or lawyers -- if all these people in positions of power understand how the web works on a very intuitive level, and have used it to not just consume information, but to produce it, and understand an algorithmic way of thinking, the world will be a better place," Simon said.

"Something like SOPA would never have happened because it wouldn't have passed the laugh test with those in policy positions," he said, referring to the U.S. Congress' attempt to enact the Stop Online Piracy Act in January, which stirred up widespread opposition among the current generation of webmakers.

There is a prominent recent real-life example to back Simon's claim up: In Oracle's recent Battle of the Titans copyright and patent legal feud against Google over 37 API packages, federal district court Judge William Alsup questioned power lawyer David Boies' claims. (Boies represented Oracle.)

Alsup revealed during the proceedings that he was capable of, and has in the past written computer code, and he told Boies that the disputed code in question was "so simple."

Everyone in the tech industry watched in horror as the case unfolded. They worried over Oracle's claim that APIs could be copyrighted. Ultimately, the judge decided that they could not -- after he learned Java to test Oracle's claims.