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5 reasons we said YES to the first Open Source // Open Society

For two days in April, Wellington will be home to some of the biggest influencers...

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For two days in April, Wellington will be home to some of the biggest influencers in open source development and open society thinking. Building on the success of open source software in powering the growth of the internet Open Source // Open Society will explore developments in open government, open innovation, open education, open data, and open business.

We couldn’t miss the opportunity to get involved so are sponsoring the first ever Open Source // Open Society (OS//OS) conference on the 16th and 17th April 2015. Here’s just 5 of the reasons why we jumped at supporting OS//OS:  

1. We love open source!

We believe in, and have experienced firsthand, the power of an open developer community. The best way to encourage and create better software is to have people contribute back to the main code base and share their work with others.

In November 2006, we released the SilverStripe CMS as a free, open source download, followed by the SilverStripe Framework in 2012. Open sourcing our software has been a far bigger success than we could have imagined. The global interest in SilverStripe the company, and SilverStripe the product has been astounding. We have seen strong growth in adoption of our software around the globe. In addition, many of our own customers are now developing unique and novel solutions on top of SilverStripe and are integrating our software deep into their own product offerings. These projects in turn feed back into the open source project to help drive innovation further.

2. We want Wellington’s vibrant open source community to keep growing

We think Wellington is a pretty cool place to live and work! We’re proud to be part of the vibrant open source community that calls Wellington home, many of whom have jumped on board as fellow sponsors. Plus being the hub for NZ government creates huge opportunities for the local open source community to create value for our society as a whole. So it’s fitting that the first ever Open Source // Open Society conference will take place in Wellington. OS//OS is the perfect showcase for what is possible with an open approach to coding, data and democracy and we’re excited to see what comes out of the two days.

3. We want to help the government open source everything!

The amount that government invests in online channels is significant – DIA conservatively estimates spending at least $40 million each year. However, website developments are usually treated as a one-off project, requiring unnecessary reinvestment in design, development, procurement and security. The functional requirements of most government websites are similar, yet agencies rarely leverage investments already made in technology components, designs and contracts.

From our involvement in the Common Web Platform we’ve seen how open source and open data can help the public sector deliver better solutions while saving taxpayer money. Greater sharing of code by government agencies and local councils means less money wasted on code that is replicated or poorly maintained. We’re hopeful that the public sector will support OS//OS and use it as an opportunity to come together to shape the future of open source in government.  

We’re leading the discussions around this topic with our sponsor panel “The government should open source everything” on day two. This discussion will bring together a number of fantastic panelists including Github’s open government liaison Ben Balter,’s product manager Peter Herlihy and our very own Community Awesomeness Manager Cam Findlay. More panelists will be announced in the coming week. 

4. We love learning

At SilverStripe we encourage a culture of curiosity. From our monthly Hack Days and Show & Tells, hosting community meetups to sending developers to conferences, we’re constantly looking for ways our teams can learn new skills and share knowledge. We were impressed by the unique thought process behind OS//OS. Staying true to their open roots the organisers aren't claiming to have all the answers at the start. Instead they’re challenging attendees, speakers and sponsors to come to the conference with their own questions. Personally I’m keen to know what is possible when public and private sector teams view web development as open by default. Cam our Community Awesomeness Manager has started to delve into this in his paper on Open Source in the NZ Public Sector. He’s published this on Github so you can add your own input in the form of pull requests! It's a good warm up for OS//OS too. 

OS//OS will create an environment to openly discuss the big challenges head on and build a community of people leading the way towards an open source future. It’s an exciting approach and we can’t wait to learn! To get involved in the discussions prior to the conference jump onto the OS//OS Loomio group.

5. We want to challenge our own thinking

Learning how open source is being harnessed in other sectors keeps our thinking fresh and ensures we’re constantly improving. It’s sure to be an inspirational two days with speakers sharing both a New Zealand and international perspective on open source. OS//OS has secured a world leading line up of speakers, from Brandon Keepers, head of open source at GitHub, Sascha Meinrath Founder at the Open Technology Institute, to Keitha Booth from the NZ Open Government Data Programme. Along with the speakers we’re looking forward to meeting and sharing ideas with conference goers, our fellow open source and open society advocates. 

What are you waiting for?

Open Source // Open Society is just 30 days away so make sure you grab yourself a ticket today. They’re reasonably priced at $199 for the two days. If you love open source or are curious about what open government means for the future of New Zealand then come along, get involved and help shape our open society!

About the author
Nicole Williams

Nicole has over 10 years experience in marketing and communications. As Head of Product, she is responsible for overseeing product management, product delivery, and marketing at SilverStripe. Nicole is responsible for engaging with public sector agencies to drive forward the vision and roadmap for the Common Web Platform, harnessing the potential of open source to share government innovation

Nicole is an advocate for knowledge sharing, believing it’s key to keeping up with the pace of tech. Her writing has been featured on Hubspot, and Huffington Post.


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