Using open source to improve how business and Government work at 2nd annual Open Source Open Society



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Openness and transparency are changing the world – including business, government, and democracy – and New Zealanders have the opportunity to spend two days learning from global leaders about how this country could benefit.


The second annual Open Source Open Society conference in Wellington is a rare event that brings together 400 people from every sector of society – especially business, Government, tech, and community advocacy. They’ll rip the lid off New Zealand and the planet’s toughest problems and get stuck in, using “open” technology principles.


Some of the big issues up for discussion at this year’s event include how transparency can create better business models, how the internet can change our democracy, how data can be made more human (and what the privacy implications are), how journalism can be supported in an open world, and how teams can work better together in a collaborative, open environment.


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The phrase “open source” connotes coding and technology, but its true definition goes much wider. Among the high profile speakers visiting New Zealand for the event are:


  • Audrey Tang, the renowned Taiwanese civic hacker
  • Executive Director of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Digital Service, Eric Hysen.
  • Prominent technology, internet, and media commentator Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus (attending remotely).
  • Australian community leader for open government, Pia Waugh.
  • US hacker and expert on using tech for activism, Evan Henshaw-Plath, also part of the team behind the birth and rise of Twitter.
  • Australian sharing economy expert, Darren Sharp.


They’re accompanied by practical workshops with some of New Zealand’s finest minds in open source.


Attendees from across the business, technology, government, startup, media, and education sectors will come away with practical ideas from global leaders on how technology and open ways of working can transform their work, organisation and society. In reality, every business in 2016 is a tech business, and OS//OS is a way to upskill to meet the challenges of an increasingly open world.


“Globally, we see open government and business unlocking economic and social benefit for countries – and it’s important to talk about the challenges too,” said conference co-director Anthony Cabraal. “New Zealand’s got huge untapped potential for our Government and business sectors to be more open, and we risk getting left behind if we don’t explore it together.”


“The possibilities are limitless. For example, one of our guests, Audrey Tang, used open source principles to get community and Government input to regulate Uber. Drivers and passengers were consulted using online and offline processes to create a framework of policy that was then ratified. These tools are great for bringing together different worlds and harnessing the power of participatory democracy.”
OS//OS is held on Monday 22 August and Tuesday 23 August, at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre. This is its second year. Tickets are available now.


  1. NZ remains tied to and locked into a proprietary software operating system that enriches a multi billionaire headed corporation and influences that control our govt software systems.

    Surveillance is built into the everyday software used in most home and the majority of business computer systems. Nothing is not accessible. Commercial espionage is common place, confidential business arrangements which the owner rate as commercially sensitive are wide open for discovery.

    That is one side of the absolute fiasco built on dodgy and illegal beginnings where intellectual property was ripped off and a team of clever well funded lawyers ground down claims of redress. IBM became a victim to the onslaught of further unethical opportunism cleverly crafted to rip off the multi million dollar investment into table top PC operating systems.

    Now this “Pirate” corporation command ransom from the majority of computer owners in the form of charging and recharging for an operating system.

    Many Govts globally have rejected this hegemony and gone over to open source which is virtually free and continually developed and improved by a massive network of top software engineers with strictly ethical motivation.

    But NZ Govt continues to be in “the club” feeding the giant parasite that wields a ransom to enable surveillance capability of your communications and private data.

    The US CIA, defence, FBI, Congress library and many other critical to security function won’t use M$ but out govt and businesses do.

    Open source is secure and no surveillance can be built in as it would be seen and announced by thousands of socially responsible open software engineers. A world wide cooperative network protects open source integrity as it is attacked by M$ at every opportunity. M$ even borrows heavily from it and of course lock up their acquisitions in proprietary code. Public domain ware is used for private profit by a Corporation without ethics or morals.

    NZ is bombarded with propaganda supporting M$ as the only viable alternative but this is not true. The most reliable systems are not M$. Many global business do not use M$ to run their servers as the most robust software is open source.

    We are being scammed by a US based monopoly with a massive PR program unfortunately taken aboard by the everyday user.

    I left M$ behind years ago with no regrets, now no updates upsetting my OS, free software to choose from and no viruses nor anti virus nightmares.

  2. I attended OS//OS last year, and it was a fantastic learning and networking experience. This write-up sounds to me like an industry conference, of interest mainly to start-ups and venture capitalists, which is a shame, because it really isn’t like that.

    OS//OS is a community gathering of information freedom activists, from many walks of life. Yes, some of them happen to work in the public service, social enterprises/ tech cooperatives, NGOs and community organisations, and so on, and their activism informs their work. Yes, we’re there to pitch new projects or new ways of solving shared problems, but it’s called “open source” because we’re there to share all our stuff, not to sell each other stuff.

    I’m pleased to see Doug Rushkoff speaking, and it’s reminded me how much I’m looking forward to this’ year event. If anyone hasn’t already read Doug’s book ‘Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back’, as well as the new ‘Throwing Rocks…’ book mentioned above, I rate them alongside Graeber’s ‘Debt’ as some of the most important books of the decade.

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