NZOSS 2016 Council Meetup Report

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This past weekend (16-17 Jan 2016) ten (out of 13) NZOSS Councillors met in Wellington, at the Catalyst IT offices in Willis Street.
 
First, many thanks to Catalyst for providing us with this space, and for your ongoing commitment to free and open source software!
 
We asked ourselves some tough questions, including questioning our basic purpose for existence, and had an intense and wide-ranging discussion on the future of the NZOSS. It was a bit of a watershed that ended with some very useful and positive conclusions. I, for one, am very pleased with the results. The following outlines some of our decisions and inspiration.

Decisions:

  • We composed a new NZOSS Mission Statement - The NZOSS exists to "share the freedom of open source software, open standards, and open information for the benefit of New Zealand."       
  • We agreed that we should have and promote a Code of Conduct to make explict our expectations of individual behaviour in our community. We will review that adopted by the NZ Python Users Group of which 3 officers are also NZOSS councillors.
  • We agreed to urgently review the Society's membership management system (and website CMS, among other things). Our primary candidate for replacing our current creaky system is the same one that NZPUG is currently trialling, called Tendenci. Because NZPUG is committed to completing its adoption of Tendenci by March 2016 (assuming it meets their migration criteria, which currently seems likely) the NZOSS could rapidly adopt it. We could then also use it as a new website CMS platform. For the record, Tendenci is an open source platform, built on the Python Django framework, running on an entirely FOSS stack.
  • We should focus on one key campaign issue to build relevance, reputation and membership. In particular the whole of government approach to software procurement presents a major risk to open source in New Zealand. Other options are discussed within the "Proposed Initiatives" section.

Proposed Initiatives

  • We recognised that the greatest periods for the NZOSS have occurred when we have had well defined campaigns, like blocking Microsoft's software patent application, their attempt to get their OOXML format certified as an ISO Standard, the Copyright black-out, and ending software patents in NZ. We identified a new mission: ensuring that local suppliers and open source technologies are an option for NZ government procurement. This will require campaigns related to IT procurement (probably left to NZRise) and a campaign to compell NZ Government to mandate the use of open standards for all software where possible.    
  • Another Campaign would be to get the Ministry of Education's NCEA standard to include (or at least recognise) FOSS technologies.   
  • We decided to focus our fund raising efforts on those campaigns as well as identifying and contacting possible business sponsors for our stream at the ITX conference.
  • We will invite affilated organisations to offer our financial members discounts (this is looking promising!)
  • We will similarly approach local FOSS-friend suppliers to ask for member discounts (already some joy here, more to come!)
  • We will offer physical (laptop stickers!) and digital badges (website icons) for members, and possibly further NZOSS swag (pending suitable designs and the ability to produce compelling offerings)

Conferences

ITx 2016 - July 2016

We will be running a one-day FOSS stream during this conference (press release) which will combine the communities of 12 NZ tech and education organisations. It gives us the chance to showcase FOSS activities and potentially get some FOSS-related issues into the broader industry discussion. Things like
  • online voting,
  • the need for open standards in government IT procurement,
  • TPPA's potential implications for the Tech Sector, or perhaps
  • Creative Commons licensing for the public sector - NZGOAL.
 
Our ITx planning team (if you'd like to participate, let us know!):
  • Daniel Reurich (NZOSS liaison with IITP)
  • Peter Harrison
  • Nicolas Erdody
  • Steve Ellis
  • Dave Lane   
We have already received two requests from FOSS-related groups to present in our stream. We need to put together a programme for our stream and engage with compelling speakers - this conference gives us an opportunity to reach a very broad and (arguably) influential demographic - existing IT professionals.
 
For both conferences, we would appreciate suggestions for FOSS-focused keynote-worthy candidates.

OpenSource//OpenSociety 2016

We agreed to continue discussing NZOSS' involvement with the Enspiral-led OpenSource//OpenSociety conference (repeating last year's conference, but without the primary sponsorship from Github). We agreed not to take a financial risk with the conference from a funding point of view. We will be keen to help direct the open source aspects of the conference, and recommend the Enspiral organisers on candidates for Keynote presentations and advise on the appropriate use of terminology and other open source-related lore to maximise the chances of success for this Wellington-focused event.
 
We consider this event compelling because it attracts an interesting demographic of up-and-coming technical developers and last time (2015) it attracted a substantial and diverse collection of people including many designers as well as educators and government employees whose involvement in the NZOSS would greatly enhance our impact and ability to undertake our mission.

Pending Tasks

  • new website with membership management capabilites
  • get a charitable Paypal Account to allow for online payments via Credit Card in NZD
  • website content review - we need to decide which content to migrate from our existing website at and which content is no longer relevant.
  • directory of FOSS businesses
  • capability matrix of our council and members

Statement of Principles - Proposed

The Statement of Principles is intended to clarify and complement our Mission. In keeping with the FOSS mantra of "release early and often", here is a provisional set of NZOSS principles - please improve, add, remove as you see fit. This will evolve over time. These should all be declarative statements, generally applicable to the NZOSS' behaviour, and that of its members.
  • If we want to see change in the world, it must start with us
  • Liberty requires vigilance - shine a light on injustice
  • Protect freedoms to be open and to share
  • Play to the strengths of our community
  • Public interests (the Commons) should be equal to - or greater than - private interests
  • Go local first
  • The User = the Developer
  • Unite, don't divide
  • Distinguish between actions and motives - praise positive actions regardless of motivation, encourage positive motivations
  • Celebrate the good rather than focusing on the bad
  • Everyone can contribute
  • It must all make business sense
  • Strength in diversity
  • Open by default    
  • Participation and innovation should be permissionless
  • Disruptive innovation always emerges where least expected, often as the result of playful exploration, not commercial motivations
  • Create rather than denigrate
  • Read AND write, not read-only