Bruce Lawson’s personal site

I’ve got a new job!

TL;DR, I’m moving from Developer Relations to become Opera’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer. Or maybe Deputy Technology Officer, because “Deputy Chief” is almost oxymoronic. Anyway, call me “Bruce”; it’s more polite than what you usually call me.

Co-father of CSS Håkon Wium Lie continues to be CTO, and I’ll be working with him, the Communications Team, the product teams, and my lovely colleagues in devrel, to continue connecting the unconnected across the world.

In some ways, this is simply an evolution of what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. In a more profound way it’s a return to basics.

My first real exposure to the Web came about working in Thailand in 1999, when I was convalescing after my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Because M.S. is very rare in Asia, I could find no English language information to tell me how quickly or painfully I would die.

But I’d read about this new-fangled Web thing, and there was an Internet Café near my apartment, so I typed in “Multiple Sclerosis” into Alta Vista and found something extraordinary: a community of people around the world supporting each other through their shared diagnosis on something called a “website” – and I could participate, too, from a café in Pratunam, Bangkok. All strangers, across the globe, coming together around a common theme and helping each other.

I knew immediately that I’d stumbled upon something amazing, something revolutionary, an undreamed of way to communicate. As an English Literature graduate and ex-programmer, I was fascinated, by both the communicative potential and also the tech that drove it. By 2002, I was Brand Manager for a UK book company publishing on books for web professionals, and our first, flagship book was on Web Accessibility.

From accessibility, I began to advocate the general concept of open web standards on my blog and with various employers, so that everyone could access the web. Then, after being invited to join Opera in 2008, I started advocating HTML5, so people could connect to an open web that could compete with the proprietary silos of Flash and iOS. After that, I began beating the drum for Media Queries and Responsive Design so that the people in developing nations (like I was in ’99), using affordable hand-held devices, could connect and enjoy the full web. Then I proposed the <picture> element (more accurately: a very naive precursor to it) so that people with limited funds for bandwidth could connect economically, too. Then I agitated, inside Opera and outside, for Progressive Web Apps, so people could have a great experience on the open web, not those pesky walled gardens.

The common thread is people and getting them connected to each other. This matters to me because that happened to me, 17 years ago (spoiler: and I didn’t die).

A third of a billion people use Opera’s products to get them online, fast and affordably. I want to be part of making that half a billion, then a billion, then more; not by stealing customers from competitors, but by opening up the web to people and places that currently have no access. That’s a lot of people; there’s a lot to be done. It’s a big job. I’m a n00b and I’m gonna fuck up from time-to-time.

Bring it on.


23 Responses to “ I’ve got a new job! ”

Comment by Adrian Roselli

Congratulations! Given how patient you were with me back in the Glasshaus days, I suspect you’ll be ace at this gig regardless of all the innertubes personalities and technologies.

Comment by prisca

Bruce 🙂
congratulations on your new role — hope you’ll love all that comes with it.
We’re very lucky the web has you on its side!

All the best <3

Comment by John Dunagan

Yeah, you might fuck up from time to time, but you’re also going to make it half a billion, then a billion. I think you’re up to it. Congratulations, and cheers!

Comment by Ben Henick

…Huh. It’s interesting—and relevant to me personally—that someone’s kept going against dire obstacles because of their deep involvement in this medium.

It’s something to make a guy feel better about his prospects.

Comment by Remy

💛💙💚Congratulations fella. I still remember reading your blog post announcing that you’re moving on to Opera, so dead pleased to hear your news 💛💙💚

Comment by Simon Owen

Incredible news! Congratulations Mr. Bruce 🙂

Look forward to see what you achieve in your new role. Hope to see you around on the scene some time this year.

Comment by Kenneth Himschoot

From what I can tell, having met you only a couple times and hearing others that I do know a bit better reflect on you, you’re a great chap with genuine empathy for others. I’ve realised that on a professional level, none of us really know what we’re doing and most of of don’t even have a clue. So you’re all covered.
Congratulations and good fortune to you.

Please don’t die yet. You’re one of the good ones.

Comment by Andy Mabbett

1999? Bloody newbie!

But seriously, I can’t think of anyone better for the role, nor with more passion for web standards. I’m pleased for you, and for the web. Congratulations.

Comment by Dean Leigh

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Will be bugging you soon to reinstate alternate stylesheets, one of Operas best accessibility features.

Comment by Coralie Mercier

Congratulations and all the best, Bruce!

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats”

–Henry Louis Mencken, American humorous journalist and critic of American life who influenced US fiction through the 1920s (1880-1956)

Comment by Jeff Jaffe

Congratulations. Looking forward to continuing our occasional brainstorming about the future of the web.

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