OS//OS: This won’t be your average conference….

We made quite a big statement on our OS//OS website:

How and why will this not be your average conference?

I’m very curious about the allergy that some people have towards the word conference. Looking at the definition of the word — I found this on Wikipedia:

A conference is a meeting of people who “confer” about a topic.

So then I looked up confer, which means: “have discussions; exchange opinions.” So is that not what we want to happen when we gather with 400 other awesome humans?

But then why — when you google image search conference do you get this:

White males at the front of a room…
Lecture style seats…
Knowledge going one way….
The list goes on…

I’m interested in post it notes, diverse speakers, small group conversations, large group conversations, paired conversations — all the different ways and means and tools we can use to have discussions and exchange opinions.

Introducing the OS//OS 2016 programme

First I’ll say yes we will have many of the traditional ingredients you might expect at a conference. There will be keynotes, there will be a panel, there will be workshops. I think those are important ingredients — but they are not the only ingredients!

Within the OS//OS team we carry a strong metaphor about the event: the cake and the icing. The cake is the food, the venue, the time table…. But it is the icing that I hope all of you, our dear delegates, will remember. The surprise and the delight that you would never have expected.

In terms of truly getting a full experience, my hugest gratitude goes to Chelsea Robinson who wrote this blog — sharing 5 ways to help you have an awesome experience of OS//OS.


You can find the full programme here: https://osos2016.sched.org/

The programme has seven keynotes on the first day, but only four on the second day. We aim to move from more form to more freedom over the course of the two days.


We are bringing three sectors together and our workshops mirror that:

Almost all of our workshops are gender balanced and I think our youngest speaker is in their early 20’s and our oldest speaker his early 70’s.

All workshops have first-come, first-serve, follow your feet policy. We will have our lovely volunteers at the door and once max capacity is reached the door will close. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment, and respect that a closed door means that that workshop is no longer open…


All keynotes will be live streamed and recorded. We have representatives from inside the political systems and outside the political systems. We will be sharing how a business has been built on open source principles and how our government statistician is working to make sure that data is more accessible. You can see all the keynotes here.

Polarities Cafe

The Polarities Cafe is a unique opportunity to extend your networks and meet collaborators across business, tech and government sectors.

The Polarities Cafe session will give participants the chance to bump minds and explore the pros and cons of both Open and Closed approaches. The Cafe also aims to build connections and spark conversations which can lead into Open sessions later in the conference.

Open Sessions

The Open Sessions are the time for you to host the conversation you want to be hosted. Imagine 400 people spread right around the Michael Fowler Centre — talking about what matters to them. What is the conversation or open question you have always wanted to explore? Imagine finding that one other, or ten others, to explore it with you…


If you’re interested in discussing diversity or you’re keen to broaden your understanding of why diversity matters, come along to DiversiTEA, brought to you by Flick. Enjoy a cosy cup or two of tea as well as a slice of cake, while you tackle some key topics around diversity with a group of fellow OS//OS go-ers.

Team Time

This will be your team. Your crew. Your pod. This will be hosted by an Enspiral contributor and will enable you to connect with a small group of people a couple of times during the conference. An opportunity to meet some people you may not normally have connected with.

Code of Conduct and… a Code of Generosity

We have a code of conduct for OS//OS but we will also be creating a Code of Generosity. What are you bringing into this open space?

An invitation

So, how can we make OS//OS not your average conference? 
The (not so) secret ingredient is you. Show up, in every sense of the word. Come and participate. Share your ideas and opinions. Connect with new friends and collaborators.

We’ve designed a container (the cake) and we’re ready to rip the lid off some big questions (and add the icing) — join us, bring your magic and make the most of world we’re opening together.

Come! It’s Open.