The open source community shudders with equal measures of saddening loss and anxious anticipation. Mozilla Firefox, one of the most important open source projects, has lost a very big player, and no one quite knows how extensive the repercussions will be.
Aza Raskin, the creative lead behind most of the magic in Firefox 4, resigned earlier this week to pursue the humanization of health care with startup Massive Health. Few details of the new venture have emerged yet, but Aza has reassured me that he is leaving “on great terms” with Mozilla, and he’s positive that his beloved Panorama will be well looked after.
As for what Raskin’s leaving means for the long term health of the open source and open Web movements, it’s hard to say. Mozilla, in general, has always been one of the most important, humanist Web advocates, and Firefox 4 was a major proponent of this year’s frantic we’re-more-hardware-accelerated-than-you cockfight between Mozilla, Google and Microsoft. Without Aza to drive innovation in Firefox 5, will Google and Microsoft be left to battle it out for the crown — and will the Web as a whole be less innovative?