Wrapping up the open society

I published a couple of big OSOS posts a day on Scoop and that really made the whole thing possible. The insights and the words were coming fast and furious, and Scoop’s CMS took a little bit of getting used to. So in the interests of maxing the coverage, we probably relaxed the sub-editing a little bit. Apologies for any glitches.

Josh Vial gun printet

Joshua Vial, with 3D printer behind, capable of producing a semi automatic weapon. “Open source is intrinsically amoral.”

Probably the hottest moment of the two days for me was on day two in a workshop about crowdfunding journalism (fronted by Alex Clark who presented pre-beta Press Patron, connecting writers and journos with ready, willing and able donors).

Half way through, the independent writer Emily, of Emily Writes, got into a little squabble with Scoop Foundation board member Margaret Thompson, over whether Scoop is really all that ethical, if it doesn’t pay writers. Emily made the germane and pointed comment that writers need to get paid, and that organisations who don’t pay writers “probably never will.” She added “I don’t write for free.”

You’ve got to respect that: writers got to eat. But Emily is restricting her professional requirement for payment to the publishers who buy her work. In the context of a 2 day gob-fest on open source, that felt worthily old fashioned.

For me, Scoop provides an audience many times my own reach. That provides all sorts of shortcuts, and I doubt my crowd funding campaign would have worked without that platform (although, if you did donate, I’m happy to be corrected on that assumption).

One of the few themes that connected more or less everyone, was that you’ve got to have a purpose, a kaupapa, besides cash. It underpinned the talk by Josh Vial, and persisted through the korero of every single keynote and workshop in the entire conference.

Earlier in the day Douglas Rushkoff delivered a brilliant analysis of the corporate tyrants of digitalia. “The internet is there now to help monopolists build monopolies” he began. His analysis is not only that open is good for people, but – better yet – that open is good for business.

One example is the profit-sharing retail company Winco. Rushkoff observes that “Winco is beating Walmart in every territory where they compete … Walmart guys go, how can they be beating us? And I go, it’s easy, they’re not taking 90% of the profit and giving it to you guys.”

Rushkoff sees a classic revolution scenario at play. “Either we chip away at the platform monopolies, or …” he trails off. Or what? What? “Or it comes tumbling down anyway. Walmart uses its value to undercut every competitor, selling below cost due to scale, putting local competitors out of business. Then they also don’t have any competition as an employer. In fact, there isn’t enough value left in the economy for anyone, even them. The whole local economy gets depleted.”

The conference wound down with a chat with Minister of Finance, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. It could have been a fireside chat, but was a little too chilly. He was interviewed by Lillian Grace and James Mansell.

In the first part of his korero he made some extraordinary comments:

Open English

He lobbed up that last one as his vision for where his government is heading with open source culture. I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s ever struggled with a response to an OIA request would find that a mighty impressive stretch goal. More likely, they’d laugh at it. Other suggested “improvements for openness” on the Twitter stream included: less blame laying on civil servants, fewer acts rushed through under urgency, and maybe not being so in love with the word “customers” to describe “citizens.”

And then, this appeared.

Dales Tweet

… which – if it’s true – would at least explain why several pointed questions about the OIA were wrapped up along the lines of “a lot of people are mentioning the OIA. Your thoughts, minister?”

In a word: patsy. It’d be a shame to turn a sitting, elected representative away from a gig like this. And it was defended by some on the grounds that he wouldn’t front under any other terms, which really felt like an own goal for the defence. English’s performance was the exact opposite of everything that had gone previously: open. It was spin. The one thing that would have helped: policy. What -exactly – is his government going to do?

And then it was all over but for the cheering, although there wasn’t a lot, after English’s snoozefest.

I can’t sign this off without one last tautoko to my donors. I’m not naming names here because some of you prefer privacy and you can always check out the Give-a-little page. Suffice to say you’re a fabulous community of actors, producers, directors, journalists, writers, broadcasters, politicians, academics, doctors (as well as those other doctors)marketers and photographers. And thanks to my hosts too! You all gave a lot and I’m humbly grateful to you all.

Here’s the Scoop index:

Update 1: Joshua Vial (tech entrepreneur) and Even Henshaw-Plath (Employee #1 at Odeo, which begat Ruby on Rails and Twitter).

Update 2: Audrey Tang soundbites (a trans hactavist turned cyber democracy facilitator, Tang is currently in the midst of ascending to a ministerial position in the Taiwanese government).

Update 3: Polarities Cafe My outer experiences and pics of a big – like, massive – focus group on open culture.

Update 4: open, sharing cities  My inner experience at an open society workshop. Trigger warning: sarcasm.

Patronage, journalism & open society Wrap of a panel discussion with Bernard Hickey, Jan Rivers and Mark Jennings, hosted by Marianne Elliot.

And here’s the Twitter stream.




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