For today’s Firefox Friday log, I’m going to share an experience I had about a lightning talk about Firefox when I was in college. This happened during one of the events by our college org, Society of Computer Scientists (SoComSci). I actually already forgot about this until I stumbled upon the article that I apparently got to keep, buried beneath folders upon folders of my external hard drive backup! I’d like to share it to the world, as Mozilla’s mission and its advocacies through the years have always been close to my heart. If memory serves me right, I also submitted this to the community-driven marketing platform by Mozilla called Spread Firefox.

Spread Firefox logo
Spread Firefox logo, courtesy of the Wayback Machine

My Article from Two Decades Ago

I am a member of the Society of Computer Scientists (SoComSci), a computer organization in the University of the Philippines – Manila (UPM). We recently held a symposium regarding open source software in the Little Theater of our college. There were four resource persons speaking for the event.

After the first speaker, we didn’t expect that the next one would not be able to come. Worse, the other speakers haven’t arrived yet! So a gap arose between the first and third speaker. What to do?? The audience, mostly comprised of students, was kind of getting rowdy and noisy. They had no one to listen to in the meantime.

UP Manila Little Theater. (photo by Noemi D.)

We had to do something, otherwise the crowd will slowly leave! I had a sudden flash of an idea — if we were so much into open source that day, why not promote Firefox?

Spreading Firefox awareness on the spot

I happened to be carrying a backup of my PC files. It included an installer of Firefox 1.0 for Microsoft Windows. The computer came with a Windows 98 operating system — ironic for an open-source symposium, but we ran out of time to setup a Mandrake Linux environment!

Firefox 1.0
This is a version of Firefox at a time when it was still just newly-released, out to challenge the dominant browser that was Internet Explorer! (image courtesy of Asa Dotzler‘s Flickr)

Thus, I asked our president if I could possibly “burn” time to avoid the awkward dead air. This was also to hopefully entertain the crowd while waiting for the third speaker. So I launched an impromptu speech about Firefox!! 😀

Opening lines, Selling points

old Firefox logo
How the Firefox logo looked like several years ago

Most of the audience up front were computer science students like me (who likely had an idea of Firefox). I specially targeted those farther from the front, asking questions like: “Have you ever experienced that ‘illegal operation’ in Internet Explorer (IE), then a dialog box pops up and you can’t close it anymore?” Or asking how they have gotten so frustrated over having a terrible bunch of IE windows just because they’re googling a certain topic and eventually opened a multitude of windows. And a lot of them nodded in agreement, so I had an energy boost (Yey!)

Firefox 1.0 installer sticker logo

I installed Firefox on-the-spot, exposing all of them to a new browser. Of course, I had to tell them what I really knew in layman’s terms, like what other folks say to convince other people (especially the non-techie users). Yes, the usual but powerful features of Firefox: Tabbed browsing, customizable icons, themes (how they can enjoy a more “colorful” Firefox hehe)… What else..? Ahh yes! The addons / extensions and of course, the indispensable built-in Google search bar!

By the end of my mini-talk I was thrilled to see that they didn’t get bored. I was able to capture their interest in having a new browser. Of course, I mentioned that there are web browsers other than Firefox, but hey, at that time I only had Firefox in my CD, so I grabbed that opportunity!

I really didn’t expect to go more than half an hour promoting it. I was surprised myself later when I learned it took me that long! Whoa!! 😀 Thankfully, the lightning talk was sufficient enough for the third speaker to arrive and be ready to speak after me. Spreading Firefox saved the day, and at the same time, it helped people discover alternatives to their online dilemmas!

“IE sucks. Spread the fox!”