The Idea Center's purpose is twofold: 1) Provide a central place where people can propose and discuss their ideas about the future of the Web, and 2) Provide a mechanism for capturing, harnessing, and tracking the better ideas that emerge.
We have hundreds of people submitting thoughts and ideas about Firefox and other Web technology development all the time, but there is no central or specific place where these should go so they show up in newsgroups, mailing lists, irc, personal email, mozillazine forums, in the wikis, etc. There is incredible value in that collective intelligence, wisdom, and energy, and figuring out how to focus and harness that has the potential to drive the future of the Web. This is what the Idea Center is for.
Phase I - Q1 2007
Initial Idea Center is set up simply as one of the Mozilla Labs forums which is used to:
1) Invite people to submit and discuss problems and potential solutions (or solutions currently without well-defined problems) in a safe and collaborative environment where risk and creativity are encouraged.
2) Start a series of regular guided discussions, including directed brainstorming, design challenges, usecase mashpits, and problem analysis.
Where the Idea Center forums produce project concepts that are worth pursuing, we can elevate those to the level of Labs Projects where they'll get their own Labs forum for discussion, engineering resources where warranted/available, SVN, etc. The process and criteria for elevation are still to be formulated.
Phase II - Q2 2007
While the Idea Center forum and community is ramping up, we step back and figure out what sort of system we want for capturing, developing, and tracking ideas over the long term. If it is decided that the forums are insufficient (which is arguable), this Idea Tracker system will be treated as a web development project unto itself, having it's own PRD and project plan akin to the one we're putting together for Firefox.
If it is decided that such a custom tool would be useful, we should try to get an initial draft of this PRD fleshed out by the end of Q2.
Phase III - Q3-Q4 2007
The Idea Tracker application goes into design and development stages. At this point it's a project akin to Remora. Completion will depend on how elaborate the PRD and what web development resources are available, of course, but we should aim at having a schedule and milestones available in early or mid-Q3. Phase III ends when the Idea Tracker launches, whenever that ends up being.
Phase IV - ???
With the Idea Center forum and Idea Tracker in use, we step back and see how they're working and where improvements or additional work needs to be done.