Mevo…(t)apping into the zeitgeist of non-car ownership

Mevo is an intriguing start up that Wellington’s Biz Dojo attracts at times.

It is making a major play towards a future where we won’t own our own car, but will hire one as required.

Additionally, Mevo’s also touting itself as the world’s first climate positive car share scheme using modern electric vehicles as well as carbon credits to help restore our environment.

Today Wellington, tomorrow the world?

Today Wellington, tomorrow the world?

Wellington’s a logical kick off city to test and refine its business model given its greenish people-ethos and density. It will grow its pods/locations of cars over the next few months (as we speak, three cars on the road, six at the end of March) and expects to have 50 vehicles in operation by the end of the year.

Part of Mevo’s intrigue is that it appears to be reasonably funded, has a strong development team and broad-based advisers. It is also partnering with others obviously keen to get into a market that is its own niche between taxis, Uber and the run-of-the-mill hire cars.

Hence (great descriptions) its partners:

  • Driven by Audi
  • Powered by Meridian
  • Insured by Trademe insurance

Clever, on cue messages

In fact, (wearing my ‘Punchline – million dollar messages’, hat) all of Mevo’s messages are clever and on cue.

That starts with the name – Mevo – this familiar but different word is move with the ‘o’ and ‘e’ reversed.

The company tells you exactly what and who they are in eight words.

‘App-based, on-demand access to electric vehicles’

And they have and emotion-based reminder of what’s in it for their customers.

‘Own the journey, not the machine’.

This is simple, effective and memorable…something you can easily imagine someone saying over a BBQ when making the point that they don’t have a lump of depreciating metal taking up space in their garage.

Part of Mevo’s cleverness is its pricing structure. Users have the options of different weekly membership fees (or none at all and paying a per hour fee), and a lower hourly rate. To mix metaphors in an digital era, it’s horses for courses.

Now naturally, starting a business and getting it to fly are two different beasts.

But Mevo may’ve just tapped into the zeitgeist of the moment.

It will still be a year or three or ten before self-driving cars become ubiquitous, and inner-city residents (in particular) become comfortable with not owning their own vehicle.

No doubt too if and when self-driving cars become the norm, Mevo will have the infrastructure – digital and physical – to seamlessly transition to this world as well.

So, Mevo – a major play, but quite possibly the right people at the right time and in the right place (before taking over the world!)
(Stick enables science and tech companies to simply tell their story. Punchline, a sister company, helps clients create million dollar messages – the 2 – 10 words that describes your essence, emotively communicates your value proposition)

Posted in Entrepreneur, high tech, Innovation, Market validation, start-up, sustainability, technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Big brains, big ideas, big discussions make Multicore World 2017 an important place to be

One of the dirty little secrets of computing is that the power of the processor(s) is currently way beyond our ability to program them.

It’s as if you have a V8 powered car but only feeding fuel into one cylinder. The rest of the engine’s potential is vastly underutilised.

So it is with multicore processors, which are like having 2 – 1016 (or much more) individual computers on a single chip.

Still most coding/programming is single lines of information in, single computer action out. Writing programs that not only parallel input multiple streams of instructions, ‘talk’ to each other while carrying out those instructions, and generate simultaneous outputs is, to use the vernacular, bloody, bloody difficult.

There's plenty of grunt available in a multicore processor, but no one has really cracked how to parallel program them. People can find out more about this leading edge technology at MW2017

There’s plenty of grunt available in a multicore processor, but no one has really cracked how to parallel program them. People can find out more about this leading edge technology at MW2017

Nicolas Erdody, yet another clever immigrant who we’re lucky calls New Zealand home, recognised this issue many years ago in setting up Multicore World from 2012. The heavyweight conference’s sixth rendition, MW2017 is again taking place in Wellington on Monday 20 – Wednesday 23 February, and again is a concentration of extremely smart people, working at the leading edge of computing possibility.

As the conference brochure says, it is about:

Trends and road maps that are not in the general domain.

For this reason alone, being part of, and being able to commercially link into solving the challenge, is an opportunity not to be missed.

Apparently the Multicore World conference is the best global assemblage of brains addressing how to overcome parallel programming’s bottleneck problem. (Check out the programme of speakers here).

Of course the opportunity for some of the speakers and attendees (more than 40% of who come from outside NZ and Australia) to visit New Zealand is in itself a major enticement – but ultimately it is the concentration of talent that is in itself the main drawcard.

Erdody, CEO of Open Parallel has largely self-funded the conference, though every year its sponsorship has become more and more heavyweight – objective proof of the value seen in pulling global experts to the bottom of the world.

Much of his efforts have gone unheralded, but Erdody has a bigger objective than exploring possibilities. He also has the dream and intent to see New Zealand as world leader in multicore processor programming and spillover its applications to NZ’s core GDP generators, from primary industries to digital animation.

But what are the other reasons people should attend?

The quality of conversations at Multicore World is arguably unparalleled (pun intended) as well, and can lead to big breakthroughs.

Three years ago, ex-pat American Alex St John heard a comment at MW2014 that unstructured data can’t be compressed. The former Microsoft top shot, and programmer figured that using gaming GPU’s that he could crack this nut…and has.

Along with Matthew Simmons, they’ve formed the ever-growing Nyriad based in Cambridge (NZ) and offering hyperscale storage processing technology. They offer what is effectively ‘liquid’ data storage and movement – and could be key in the Square Kilometer Array’s need to simultaneously render massive quantities of data when this global project begins surveying the heavens.

MW2017 will be more than a talk-fest.

It will be grunty and leading edge.

If people have half a mind to get along, they should – Stick will almost guarantee that any insights alone gained will more than cover the entry price. The connections and future business possibilities on top of this is simply a wonderful bonus.

(Stick enables science and tech companies to simply tell their story. Punchline, a sister company, helps clients create million dollar messages – the 2 – 10 words that describes your essence, emotively describes a value proposition)


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Why we need to go back to the future (and give it a name)

Here’s a counter-intuitive notion, that if we’re smart, could allow our analogue agricultural systems to thrive in a digital world.

But to do so we MUST own our story.

My contention is, the more society connects to the cloud, the more we will want to connect to the land.

That is, as virtual and artificial becomes ubiquitous and cheaper, the more valuable and special will be realness and authenticity.

Realness and authenticity is about ‘trust’. In theory most of our current farming-based industries should have a distinct advantage in this regard. Which is the problem when it comes to agriculture.

Pasture brand

How much better and easier would it be for New Zealand if we named the pastoral method that underpins our protein production system?

Because farmers, companies and our country can only benefit by branding our key comparative and competitive advantage – namely our ability to grow, and knowledge about pastures.

We don’t share a brand/name/story around this, though we’ve poured billions of dollars into its R&D over 120 years.

Now , compared to factory/feedlot farming, the way we grow pasture and raise animals – sustainably (mostly), scientifically, safely, ethically – is the way discerning and affluent consumers would do it themselves.

The only protein production system that can say ‘visit’

Indeed, we’re the only protein production system that can happily say, ‘visit’.But because we have no brand/name/story for what, how and why we grow pasture, there’s no way to:

  • Charge more for our superior protein products
  • Justify (an increased?) R&D investment
  • Inspire young people into what they currently perceive as a moribund industry

Our primary agriculture is still commodity oriented, is gradually being taken over by foreign interests, and has increasing public irrelevance – all because we don’t own our story.

Sure many NZ primary industry focused interests attempt to put their own spin on a ‘method’ we all own. However, there is no critical mass around these names, no shared story.

Equally, the plethora of names such as natural, grass-fed, free-range et al don’t describe the value proposition of our pastoral method, doesn’t link to consumers’ emotions, has no resonance.

Such terms don’t allow us to differentiate the animal-based products coming from our land, or enable our seed, animal genetics or stock control agribusiness to set themselves apart.

Strength for a digital future

The irony is soon as we did name our pastoral method at a national level, we would give our agriculture a position of strength in a digital future.

We’d give ourselves a platform on which to tell our shared story. Individual companies would have a supporting brand/name/story to underpin their marketing efforts.

How confident am I that our farming industry can see this, make a simple change?

Not confident at all.

In spite of the fact an NZ-owned pasture brand would provide tangible ‘trust’ for global consumers, and enable a correctly aligned underpinning for a host of improvements in the industry, it will probably never be done.

Farming’s much more comfortable pedalling ever faster, for ever diminishing returns, than shining a light on what we do exceptionally well.

We’re too busy fighting each other in the market, we can’t see that there’s advantage in working together.

Rather than taking a deep breath, and giving a brandname to the reason our hills are green, we continue to race to the bottom with everyone else..

Naming our specialness is too blindingly obvious a thing to do to ever have a hope of being achieved.

NZ Inc agriculture has the opportunity to stake a global claim for a methodology that works in harmony with nature, and take worldwide ownership of a natural space.

We can own a small part of the market representing realness and authenticity. We can give primary industry a healthy, sustainable and profitable future by being able to tell, and retell our what makes us special through digital storytelling.

We can demonstrate our trustworthiness.

But, all this is possible, ONLY if we name what we do best.

(Stick enables science and tech companies to simply tell their story. Punchline, a sister company, helps clients create million dollar messages – the 2 – 10 words that describes your essence, emotively describes a value proposition)

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Why we should give some serious thought to a Science and Innovation Council

It’s that time of year when we fly  kites, give voice to possibilities.

So, given we have a new Science and Innovation minister, namely Paul Goldsmith, how about exploring whether now is a good time to put seriously explore forming a Science and Innovation Council.


New Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith should look at the advantages of forming a Science and Innovation Council

After all, if it is good enough for countries such as Denmark, Finland and Singapore (economies that we like to rate and rank ourselves against) surely it is good enough for us.

Stick’s blogged about the desirability of such a high-level, well-connected, oversight body in the past – but there’s nothing like resurrecting a good idea!

It was also Recommendation 13 in ‘Powering Innovation’ – a strategy paper from June 2011.

Recommendation 13:

Form a Science and Innovation Council, led from a very senior ministerial level in Government, with representatives from the university, public and private research organisations and from industry. Members should represent a wide range of science and technology themes, including the social sciences. The role of the Science and Innovation Council should be to establish a national innovation strategy and advise on science and innovation policy and priorities.

In the comparative countries, S&I Councils are often attended by the Prime Minister, but at the very least are way up in the pecking order of how and more importantly why, R&D is carried out.

An auspicious mix of private business people, scientists, academics and government, S&I councils form a vital part of connecting between commerce, technology, applied science and fundamental science.

Align the science and innovation continuum

These S&I Councils help align a country’s business strengths, its expected future requirements, the ‘brains’ being trained up, and the pipelines of new developments needed to stay competitive.

Denmark’s S&I Council for example was a major reason the small Nordic nation went strongly down the ‘design’ (as an element of all innovation) path.

The other advantage an NZ S&I Council would have is to better engage the broader New Zealand public with science. Far too many people (my own children included) see science as a separate ‘thing’ that’s done by geeks, something that’s not relevant to their own lives (this of course while remaining totally oblivious to the huge R&D that is their smart phone).

A S&I Council would help address this disconnect. It would make much more visible and relevant the continuum between science and technology and how our country can and should create greater wealth from clever products and services.

A S&I Council would also help reassure Prime Minister Bill English that the continued investment in R&D is worthwhile and important. He, like all of us, like to know where’s the payback? Well, an S&I Council, preferably with him also on it, would help answer that question.

So, go on Mr Goldsmith, give it some decent thought.

(Peter Kerr runs Punchline [messages that matter], as well as What I Wish My Dad Told Me – advice that could be useful)

Posted in contract writer, high tech, Innovation, SciBlogs, Science, Science policy, technology, writer for hire | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Clever solution to a quad bike problem

Here’s a great idea from someone who is (take your pick from, or choose the lot) young, entrepreneurial, agri-tech, female, creative, persevering, clever; and as it happens is a dag-hand at cake-making.

Now the Biz Dojo (where Stick operates out of) is so full of things digital that it is a surprise to find someone developing a product you can drop on your toe.

In the Flatpak Quaddy’s case it wouldn’t hurt much as the large, tough PVC-canvas and flexible multi-use bag doesn’t weigh that much.

science and technology writing

The Flatpak Quaddy opened out

Flatpak Quaddy, a science and technology answer to a problem

The Flatpak Quaddy, on an ATV, folded down and not in action

Emily Tasker came up with the safe and secure transport carrier for the back of a quad bike (ATV) while at school. She was helping out Ruth McDavitt in the Summer of Tech programme for a while at the Biz Dojo, and in keeping with a ‘good at many things mindset’, is heading down to Christchurch to work with Holmes Solutions (who specialise in engineering projects that no one has done before).

Coming from an agricultural background myself, safely carrying equipment on the back of a quad is a challenge. Her solution is also in the scheme of things of “how come no one has thought of this before”.

But Emily’s kept on keeping on at this project, had it as part of the Venture Up, and Young Enterprise Scheme, and is selling it though stock and station companies across the length of NZ.

Carrying equipment on the rear of a quad, instead of on its front carrier is proven to be more safe; and given the number of accidents that kill and/or maim our farmers, anything that lowers accidents is obviously worth pursuing. Flatpak conforms to WorkSafe standards.

It’s dimensions are 1040mm x 400 x 300, and about 200mm when folded flat – hence the Flatpak name…though as the website points out is is a comfortable place for a dog to sit if it gets sick of running beside the quad.

Stick’s a great fan of solutions to a problem. The Flatpak Quaddy is one of those.

Emily’s clearly heading for higher things. She has given university a miss, figuring that life itself will be her educator.

Expect to see more of her in the future…you heard it here first!

(Stick is a sister site to Punchline – million dollar messages)

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Global mindset drives Kiwi ‘stamp of approval’ enterprise

How does an organisation from the bottom of the world, excell internationally in verifying and stamping its approval on food quality and safety?

The first answer is because New Zealand exports over 90% of the food it produces, and other countries demand assurances of quality and safety against their market access standards.

The second is through 120 years of experience backed by expertise, professionalism and integrity which sees AsureQuality as its home country’s premier food assurances provider. These attributes also see it with significant operations in Australia, Singapore, China and the Middle East.

testing and certification

AsureQuality’s Dr Harry Enckevort in the SOE’s sophisticated Wellington laboratory

AsureQuality’s 1700 people have inherited and continue to develop world-leading inspection, auditing, certification, testing, training, advisory and authentication services.

Integrating inspection, certification and testing

As a recognised Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) it has a mandate that integrates inspection and certification with testing.

Its Chief Science Officer, Dr Harry van Enckevort says food is the State Owned Enterprise’s main focus – giving consumers confidence in what they eat while also protecting the brands of countries and companies.

As well as New Zealand clients, customers include very well known non-NZ multinationals, with some of these brands also in the very sensitive infant formula space.

“AsureQuality also has a key role in New Zealand’s food safety regulatory framework and to do that we have to walk the line between customers and regulators. To achieve it we can’t have conflicts of interest.”

In practice it means across all AsureQuality services, we have to maintain our independence.

“We can only do that because we carefully cultivate our expertise, professionalism and integrity.”

Harry says the organisation is based on a deeply skilled people resource underpinned by its science and technical capabilities.

“We also have a worldwide overview – helping take exports out of New Zealand and bringing global perspectives back home,” he says. “That customer focus is a two-way flow; they lead us and we lead them. If we didn’t there is no way we’d have our global expertise in food quality and safety.”

He says the company instills continual improvement through looking at ourselves and customer feedback and surveys.

“We’re constantly looking at what we need to do to stay relevant and ahead of the game and competition,” Harry says. “We’re always looking to find a better way, challenging our people how we can do things better, faster and smarter while still maintaining the quality of our output. Because there’s always changes in customers and industry as well as customer needs, we have feedback loops and responses.”

A particular point of focus is to add value for a customer beyond mere compliance, not simply ticking a box as part of an audit or certification.

When we give customer feedback in an audit, they might ask what the options are to mitigate the issues,

“We say, here are some options – we don’t tell them what to do – they need to make their own call,” he says.

For AsureQuality to still be thriving in five years time, “to still have relevance, we will have to be commercially successful.”

“Our market offering will have to continue to be relevant, and we’ll need to maintain our comparative advantage against our competitors. If we do that we’d like to think we’ll have a larger global presence than we presently do. To achieve that we’ll need to continue to have the right people in the right place with the right expertise and service.

“So far we’ve met the demands of customers and stakeholders all across the world. By maintaining our core focus on science and technology that is how we will continue to provide the services they want, how we will continue to grow.”

This story also appeared here,, as a commissioned article for Science Exchange. It has recently opened an NZ satellite office for its USA-based business.

Stick is a sister company to Punchline – a million dollar message maker

Posted in high tech, Innovation, Science, technology, value added food, value-added food. processed food, writer for hire | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Perhaps the TIN100 deserves an ex gratia payment?

Perhaps Greg Shanahan and his TIN 100 team and reports are deserving of an NZ Inc ex gratia payment.

Because arguably they’ve been most responsible for bringing hi tech out of the closet, making it cool(er). (OK, the Hi-Tech Awards have had some impact as well!).

Of course we can never tell what would’ve happened without this report coming into being 12 years ago, but purely as an ‘aspirational showcase’ alone the TIN 100 punches well above its weight.

In fact one way to look at its influence is what we’d know about the ICT, high tech manufacturing and biotech industries without its presence. In an era of ever less traditional media reporting of industry, the answer is very little indeed.

TIN 100

Greg Shanahan launches the TIN100 2016 report at Wellington’s NZX, and discusses the ICT sector with Greg Davidson of Datacom, and serial startup investor Dave Moskovitz

TIN managing director (and former Wellingtonian) Greg Shanahan highlighted some of the capital’s success stories when launching the 2016 report at NZX on Wednesday night. On that score the Wellington region led revenue growth of 15.3% for the year. A press release highlighting some of the key points is available here.

The really significant figure from NZ’s point of view was that the combined sectors’ revenues leapt by 12% and are now in touching distance of $10 billion ($9.4 bn).

As is often the case with the laconic Shanahan, it was his commentary that provides illumination around the numbers.

“This is a transformational report,” he says. “We’ve reached a tipping point and this year’s data signals that an inflexion point has been passed as the industry hits critical momentum.”

He says there are three main reasons for this:

  • Scale growth
  • Accelerating pace of growth
  • Spread of growth across many companies

The TIN 100 provides a detailed breakdown of NZ’s 200 largest technology exporters (and to continue the name/numbering/branding challenge), plus the Next100.

Among the plethora of interesting aggregated data knowledge points are:

  • record 16% growth in R&D spend, now accouting for 9% of total revenues of TIN200 companies
  • TIN200 companies created nearly 3,000 new jobs in the past year, up 7.9%. They now employ almost 40,000 people
  • 40% more TIN200 companies generated revenues over $50 million than five years ago

The report itself is for sale here.

It is also sponsored by NZTE and Callaghan Innovation (as well as EY and AJ Park).

Quite possibly the investment made by these two government bodies is one of the best ones they make.

We would all certainly be much less wise, much poorer informed, less able to say to our kids ‘hey, check these companies out’, without it.


(Peter Kerr runs Punchline [messages that matter], as well as What I Wish My Dad Told Me – advice that could be useful)

Posted in Angel investment, contract writer, Entrepreneur, high tech, Innovation, SciBlogs, writer for hire | Tagged , | 1 Comment

This ‘greaser of the (supplying internationally) tracks’ will be really good for NZ science

I’m sort of embarrassed that I’ve never heard of Science Exchange before.

It’s been going for over five years, started in the US by a couple of Kiwi founders, and has grown well beyond start up to having recently secured Series B funding of US$25 million.

In its own words “Science Exchange has become the world’s leading marketplace for scientific research. Through Science Exchange, researchers can securely access a network of 1,000s of screened and verified contract research organizations (CROs), academic labs, and government facilities that are available to conduct scientific experiments.”

The now Palo Alto, Silicon Valley located firm acts as a halfway house between organisations needing science done, and researchers with the specialist knowledge and facilities to do the same. Pharmaceutical companies and US government agencies have been the major users of the connecting service.

Science Exchange not only validates the science providers credentials, it takes care of the paperwork, payment and IP, including dealing across international borders.

It has obviously solved a problem.

NZ satellite office established in Wellington

And now it has established its first satellite office – in New Zealand, operating out of the Wellington Biz Dojo. Not the least reason for the location is Hawkes Bay raised David Iorns, brother of SciEx co-founder Elizabeth Iorns wanting to return home and raise a family.

But New Zealand will be a good test of how SciEx can go about growing – while being ideally located (timezone-wise) between west coat America and Asia.

Along with Matiu Andrew-Cookson, who has an interesting background as a biochemist along with structural planning expertise, SciEx (NZ branch) is looking to show science researchers and facilities here how they can much more easily provide their in-demand expertise to the world.

It should be something that is welcomed with open arms by everyone.

We have expertise, at times under-utilised capacity, specialised knowledge in certain areas, and are reasonably trusted.

Other people are prepared to pay for these outputs – and usually quite handsomely. Science Exchange’s cut comes from the buyer of the research – added on top of the negotiated ‘doing-science’ fee.

It doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that some science providers could make some serious coin by being the outsourced component of someone else’s needs.

There’s already private companies such as Trinity Bioactives who make biological products for overseas customers, and has been an accredited Science Exchange research provider for a few months. Others such as the Cawthron Institute, Hill Laboratories, P3 Research and NZ Genomics are, presumably, partners-in-waiting.

The Crown Research Institutes and universities must also have spare capacity. It is quite easy to envisage that such overseas derived contracts could help underwrite original NZ research.

But, there may be downsides that I haven’t thought of.

Can anyone else think of how the presence of Science Exchange could be detrimental to NZ?

(There’s completely different written material from Peter Kerr at):

  1. Punchline – Messages that Matter (specialising in business’s first, most important message [tagline]
  2. What I Wish My Dad Told Me – advice and bits of accumulated wisdom
Posted in contract writer, Early stage science, high tech, Innovation, SciBlogs, Science, Science policy, writer for hire | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Open Source at work, Open Society working in Taiwan

There was striking evidence that Open Source can lead to Open Society at the first day of OS//OS at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on Monday August 22.

One of the keynote speakers, Audrey Tang from Taiwan, outlined how a quiet (and unheralded, at least in New Zealand) revolution has completely changed how democracy is practiced in the 23 million people nation sitting off China’s coast.

It started with a parliamentary sit-in in 2014 – aided and abetted by Taiwan’s digital wizards as informal representatives debated how to use internet tools to ensure that all voices are heard before any new legislation is put in place.

Eventually parliamentarians agreed that what was proposed by the ‘Sunflower Movement’ was valid.

Now, the feelings and opinions of many different people (and animals and the environment) are considered. The role of parliament is to enact this debate outcome through legislation.

Audrey gave an example of a furore that arose as Uber looked to set up shop in Taiwan. As in many other countries around the world, taxi drivers and others were most upset at the proposal.

But, unlike other countries its citizens put in place what is known as a ‘focused conversation method’. The pros and cons, and feelings of all the parties received an airing.

Debating all the options

When Uber, the taxi drivers and government got together after this; it only took two hours for a compromise – satisfactory to all – to be nutted out.

Now Taiwan, having been effectively a dictatorship in its first 40 years after the Second World War, may be giving the proverbial fingers to the nearby Chinese power autocracy.

Even so, the lessons that Audrey made, that are possible through the application of digital tools to democracy, felt right at home among this particular audience.

Some of these points included:

  • Democracy is not just voting.
  • There has to be open debate.
  • A forum is required that can produce timely answers, and allow face to face conversations.
  • Democracy has to be a dialogue between people of many different values.
  • Pragmatic democracy lets its people take care of each other. That is done by listening to each other.

It was, for me, a practical and uplifting example of open at work.

I obviously wasn’t the only one who thought so too. Audrey received the longest, loudest ovation from the audience – indeed many did it standing!

(There’s completely different written material from Peter Kerr at:)

  1. Punchline – Messages that Matter (specialising in business’s first, most important message [tagline]
  2. What I Wish My Dad Told Me – advice and bits of accumulated wisdom


Posted in China, IT, open source, SciBlogs, technology | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Is it really possible to cross-credit open source to open society?

Every party needs a grumpy uncle…so let me be that curmudgeonly guy for the upcoming Open Source//Open Society conference.

(Early spoiler alert – I’m going to some of OS//OS. There’s too many thought provoking speakers, too much opportunity to touch base with clever people not to)

The second such OS//OS event is talking (was originally a typo, but it works!) place at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on August 22 and 23.

I attended last year’s inaugural event attended by over 350 business, government and tech sector people.

This year the organisers are expecting over 400 people, and ticket prices have been increased!

So there must be a few believers in the whole concept of open. Given the look of last year’s attendees there’s going to be a swag of millenials (18-36 year olds).

Now, do they think they can change the world by expanding the notion of open source software (free for anyone to use and improve and feed back to for the greater good of all) to wider society?

When you see the possibility of Donald Trump being president of the USA, and the Brexit you wonder. Those are examples of closing down, shutting up the barriers, telling every other wo/man and their dog to f…off.

World is less free, more fearful, more worried

We’re in a world that is less free, more fearful, worried.

How does OS//OS with its peace, love and apple pie philosophy expect to counter that?

To give them credit, OS//OS attempts an answer. They have a go at the WHY? (I’m pulling out pieces from the publicity material here…the sort of answer you’d give to grumpy uncle).

“The internet has fundamentally rewritten the rules for human culture. We can transparently exchange information on a scale that we have never been able to imagine before.” (emphasis is OS//OS)

“Our individual freedom to innovate has never, ever been greater.”

“Welcome to the age of active participation.”

“Welcome to the world where being open is better for business, technology and democracy.”

OK, the actuality of the internet and its rewriting of the rules is an easily observable fact. It is translating and implementing the above desire that’s the trick.

Now there’s a fair few workshops looking to challenge transparency, data commons, ownership, science. These sort of things; as can only be expected; are variable in their outputs. That’s fine, it is the unexpected outcomes that are great and that do happen at these sorts of events.

Some of the speakers are interesting too, very interesting.

Doug Rushkoff was there when the internet started. He had high hopes of its potential to help people and the planet. But something’s gone wrong he reckons – much of which is outlined in his book ‘Throwing stones at the Google bus’. He kicks off the second day.

Don Christie, open source head and advocate at Wellington-located, global-based Catalyst IT gives his take on survival and thrival in a brutual business world.

Geoffrey Palmer digs under the covers for what it would really mean to have an open Constitution.

Is it preaching to the choir?

How much though of what is being talked about around open is a case of preaching to the choir?

The believers, perhaps you’d even occasionally call them zealots, will like to think open everything is ushering in a new world of altruism.

But I’ve seen it enough that if individuals or corporations can turn a dollar by closing down people’s options rather than opening them up…then they tend to win.

OS//OS is operating on the premise of if we build it, they will come. They may be right – and certainly without people to champion such principles, and bring such thinking out of the interweb and into the physical world (such as this conference), then skeptics like me will remain that way.

But…to give the organisers their due; they’ve curated this ‘gathering of the clans’ with a strong hypothesis and will be sharing compelling stories. That appeals to my semi-scientist nature, and love of a good yarn.

And it would be great for others, more or less skeptic than me to participate in this event. It really is an interesting bunch of people.

(You can see another project of mine: ‘What I Wish My Dad Told Me’ by clicking on its link. My business, Punchline, specialises in unearthing an organisation’s first, most important story).

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