NZ Open Source Awards

September 28, 2008 – 8:37 am

(reposted from The O’Reilly Radar blog)

Wednesday night in Wellington is a lot more exciting when the New Zealand Open Source Award ceremony is on! The Minister for Communications and Information Technology, David Cunliffe, made a brief speech lauding open source and was around to hand awards to the winners. We gave out prizes for best project, contributor, use in government, use in business, use in education, use in community organization, and use for infrastructure, as well as two special awards.

I was a judge (along with Don Christie, Rochelle Hume, Colin Jackson, Janet Mazenier, Chris Daish, and Paul Matthews) and presented the Project award to Silverstripe and one of the special awards. It was quite the honour to be on stage with the wonderful winners. A list of the finalists and winners is on the NZOSA web site.

As all awards should be, they were very hard to judge. Everyone finalist was doing great work, and it was almost impossible to pick one over another. Nonetheless, Robert O’Callahan from Mozilla edged out Debian, Perl, and OpenSolaris contenders for Best Contributor. Richard Hulse from Radio New Zealand took home the award for use of Open Source in Government (their online presence is built on open source and they even offer Ogg Vorbis show downloads, e.g. for science show This Way Up). Dave Lane from Egressive in Christchurch won Best Use in Business for almost singlehandedly building the open source business scene in Christchurch. FLOSS Manuals won for Best Use for Community Organisation, beating out Wellington’s rising star Brenda Wallace. CityLink won for Best Use in Infrastructure.

There were two Special Achievement awards handed out. Colin presented one to New Zealand’s CIO, Laurence Millar, to acknowledge the great work the State Services Commission has done in levelling the playing field for open source and open data within Government. I was honoured to present one to Matthew Holloway, whose work on the ISO OOXML proposal was a key part of the great work that Standards New Zealand did to establish their position (they voted against it becoming a standard). Well, I would have been if Matthew had been there, but it was accepted in his absence by Peter Lambrechtsen who was also part of the Standards NZ process.

There was even drama on the stage. Colin Jackson gave the Minister some stick over the ISP-hostile DMCA-esque provisions of the latest Copyright Act being snuck in after the bill had passed the Select Committee without it. Then I, as part of my speech above Matthew, got to observe that the transparency of the Standards NZ process was something that New Zealand could be proud of–unlike the ACTA and US Free Trade agreements which are being negotiated in secret and have considerable potential to interfere with the computer industry. The Minister stood up afterward and extended an offer to us and the relevant industry representatives to meet the appropriate people after a Cabinet meeting and go over our objections with the people who need to hear them.

Many thanks to MC Mark Cubey (by day the producer of the Kim Hill show), and to Catalyst IT Limited, the NZ open source consulting company that has funded the NZOSA for the last two years and built it into the great event that it deserves to be. Go Kiwis!

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