President's Report 2015-16

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First I'd like to say a big thanks to our NZOSS Councillors for the past year:

  • Grant Paton-Simpson (Auckland)
  • Steve Ellis (Auckland)
  • Rose Lu (Wellington)
  • birgit bachler (wellington)
  • Danny Adair (Kawakawa, Northland)
  • Brent Wood (Wellington)
  • Daniel Reurich (Wellington)
  • Marek Kuziel (Christchurch)
  • Peter Harrison (Auckland)
  • Tim McNamara (Wellington)
  • Nicolás Erdödy (Oamaru, North Otago)
  • Jaco van der Mewe (Auckland)
  • Matthew Holloway (Wellington)

Also, I'd like to thank Tim McNamara for joining me on the executive as Vice President, and many thanks to Peter Harrison for his work as Secretary and Daniel Reurich as Treasurer!

It's been an eventful year for the NZOSS, and a positive one, although we did not really succeed in one of our main intentions: building a new mechanism managing financial members, and promoting former member and new community participants to join as financial members! As a volunteer organisation, we did not quite achieve critical mass or complete accord on our direction (along with a bit of external friction from organisations like Paypal). We did, however, achieve quite a few other things over the past year.

Council Summit

On 16 January 2016, we had our first ever physical council meeting in Wellington, with nearly everyone present! Many thanks to Catalyst IT for providing us with a venue! Among other discussions, we managed to refine our purpose as an organisation.

Mission

Our Mission is "to share the freedom of open source software, open standards, and open information for the benefit of New Zealand."

Code of Conduct

Although intended to be a living document (which may well undergo substantial changes), we have a provisional Code of Conduct.

NZOSS Web Services

Etherpad

We now routinely use our Etherpad-lite instance to record what transpires at our Council Meetings. Here for example:

September 2015, October 2015, November 2015, December 2015, January 2016, February 2016, March 2016, April 2016, May 2016, June 2016, July 2016, August 2016, September 2016, October 2016.

Gitlab

Our NZ-focused Git repository is now approaching 60 projects hosted on it - you're welcome to add yours!

Wekan

We now have a kanban planning system to assist with planning and tracking projects.

Rocket.Chat

We encourage you all to try our chat system for realtime and asynchronous communication (with searchable archives). 

FOSS Meetups

Since April 2016, we've had a monthly physical "FOSS Meetup", usually with 5-15 people from a list of 200+ subscribers turning up each month (thanks to Catalyst Chch for providing a venue!) for presentations, demos, and general FOSS discussion. We keep meeting notes in Etherpad, for example - the others have "guessable" URLs.

ITx 2016

The NZOSS was able, for the first time, to have a place at a large, national IT conference. The Institute of IT Professionals (soon to be rebranded IT Professionals) took the bull by the horns and organised (with our help and that of 10 other NZ-wide IT organisations) a pan-IT conference. The NZOSS had a full day stream, including some excellent speakers talking about inspired FOSS projects (filter by "NZOSS").

Sponsorship

This year the NZOSS is proud to be a sponsor of a number of events, including ITx, OS//OS 2016, and the 2016 NZ Open Source Awards.

Tech Leaders Forum

An outgrowth of the ITx multi-organisational stream approach is the formation of a new pan-industry "Tech Leaders Forum" including the leaders of about a dozen national NZ-based organisations including TUANZ, InternetNZ, TechNZ, IITP, NZRise, PMI, NZOSS, and others. Through this group, the NZOSS can gain influence by getting other leaders to support our agenda and providing a unified message to government officials and others. Participating in this group will allow us to magnify our impact, particularly with regard to lobbying, although we may also learn useful procedural lessons from successes (and failures) experienced by the other organisations.

D5 Charter

This year we found out about an agreement that our ICT Minister, Peter Dunne, signed on our behalf at the end of 2014. The D5 Charter includes a pledge by the NZ government to adopt, promote, and share open standards, and open source software (among other good things) with the other 4 "Digital 5" countries:, the UK, South Korea, Israel, and Estonia. We're currently trying to "help" the NZ government start to make good on its promise (there's a LOT of room for improvement to their effort).

Streamlined Council

The size of the NZOSS Council, capped at 14 (after an amendment to the Constitution approved in 2010, raising it from 13), has meant that we have a potentially inclusive but highly unweildy herd of cats at our helm. Due to long time struggles to achieve necessary quorum (50+% of Councillors) at Council meetings we have decided to reign in the Council by limiting its number to 7 members, including the two Executive. The Society's Constitution allows for a "maximum" of 14, but allows the Council to review the number at their descretion so long as it does not exceed the maximum. This is in line with similar moves by our colleagues at Linux Australia.

The Open School House

Perhaps the most auspicious and inspiring FOSSy thing I encountered this year happened in the past fortnight. On a recent overseas trip, I managed to catch up with a fellow called Charlie Reisinger (a brief intro to his work). He's the IT Director of a school district, "Penn Manor" in central Pennsylvania, near the east coast of the US. He has, over the past 17 years, created what is - in my opinion - the model for IT education and the only way we'll be able to address the mismatch between our community's need for IT expertise and the public education system. Thankfully, he has written a book about it, and I'm planning to get a pilot of this approach running in New Zealand.

Conclusion

The year to come will be full and challenging, and I think, with a clear mission, a bit of strategy, and a streamlined council, the NZOSS can achieve great things. I hope you will all pitch in to help us make it happen!

(for reference, here's last year's President's report)