A couple months ago, we had our Mozilla Foundation All Hands meeting in Toronto. There, Atul, my colleague, explained to Marilyn, another colleague, the importance of Mozilla’s 2012 goals to build a generation of webmakers, by utilizing the analogy of two very different coffee machines.
In the Toronto office, we have an espresso machine that requires those that want coffee, to go through the following steps:
1. Unfasten the portafilter handle from the machine.
2. Dispose of any used ground coffee.
3. Give the portafilter a good rinse and clean out any old grinds.
4. Grind the coffee beans.
5. Dispense the ground coffee beans into the portafilter basket.
6. Give it a tap to settle it, pack it and even it out.
7. Tamp the coffee to pack it down.
8. Clean the edges of the portafilter.
9. Flush the water through the machine to get rid of any old grinds stuck in the shower.
10. Insert the portafilter handle back onto the machine.
11. Press the start button to get your espresso!
The machine used in the Toronto office looks much like those you’d find at your starbucks or neighborhood coffeeshop.
Yes that was a laundry list of steps the coffee drinker must go through and yes, it takes some time, but the coffee drinker has a fundamental understanding of exactly what process went into the coffee she’s about to drink as well as the exact set of beans (you know what I mean).
On the other hand, the San Francisco office has an espresso machine that looks like this:
And the instructions in order to get a coffee or an espresso are more are less as follows:
1. Press button
2. Read screen
3. Repeat until desired result
Basically you just press a couple buttons and it starts automagically dispensing espresso.
The problem is it frequently breaks and often you’re just poking around and pressing anything and everything to get a response from the machine.
When it breaks it’s difficult with anyone with a modicum of curiosity to start troubleshooting since all the mechanics of the machine has been abstracted from the coffee drinker.
The coffee drinker is unable to draw connections between things that are happening that results in the end product of the espresso.
There are few options other than to hire someone to come and fix the machine when it breaks.
With this coffeemaker analogy, Atul was able to communicate to Marilyn, and to me, the importance of having things exposed so that we *can* look under the hood; see what’s going on underneath. And why that ultimately makes our lives easier and better.
When web users are not simply consuming the web but actively participating in the web and being producers of the web, that makes our lives ultimately better. :)
I couldn’t have thought of a better way to explain the importance of getting your hands dirty by making and producing and knowing the process and how this all connects to Mozilla’s goals to promote webmaking skills in all of us.