Amanda Brock

Description of the candidate: 

I am a passionate leader in open source software and bring a unique mix of legal, business and practical open source understanding to the Individual Board Member elections.  My main role is as CEO of OpenUK, the organisation for the business of Open Technology in the UK (open source software, open hardware and open data). I'm a lawyer with law degrees from Glasgow, New York and Queen Mary (London) Universities. I spent 25 years working as a Solicitor, working internationally from 2000 and with 20 of those years being inhouse in companies across sectors. I spent 5 years as General Counsel of Canonical, where I set up and ran the global legal team. My legal, corporate and governance experience have been invaluable to me in hands-on work supporting the open source industry and communities day to day. 

As part of OpenUK’s focus on UK leadership and global collaboration in Open Technology I’ve been an active participant in the open source work group at the European project GaiaX, OpenUK being one of only two UK Day One Members of GaiaX and currently working on a UK GaiaX Hub.

I have led OpenUK to its current focus on Sustainability, Security and Skills:

  • Open Technology for Sustainability Day at COP26 and the development of the Blueprint for the Open Technology Data Centre of the Future, Patchwork Kilt now hosted in the Eclipse Foundation and the EV Charging Open Technology Blueprint currently being built along with a second Open Technology for Sustainability event in October.  
  • Instrumental in OpenUK joining and participating in OpenSSF and creating a Security Advisory Board.
  • Executive Producer of OpenUK’s Open Kids Camp, teaching High School Students the Open Source Definition and Sustainable Development Goals alongside digital skills using makecode, python and javascript. We distributed 8200 digital gloves (free of charge) to young people in the UK, enabling their participation, with a particular focus on digitally excluded young people. We are building apprenticeship and university modules in open source as well as running a Kids Competition in 2022. The OpenUK Kids Camp was the runner up in the GNOME Community Challenge.  

As an international keynote speaker, podcast guest and panel member, I discuss open source software and write extensively about it. My focus is often business and revenue models and open for good. My writing includes academic journals and the tech press and I am frequently quoted by them on open source and technology, including Information Age, The Reg and CBRDigital. I was an Executive Editor and co-Founder of the Journal of Open Law Technology and Society (formerly IFOSSLR), am a Fellow of the Open Forum Academy and was a guest editor of the IEE Special Edition on Open Data in January 2022.  

I’ve edited the book, Open Source Software: Law, Policy and Practice, 2nd Edition, during the pandemic. This will be published by Oxford University Press in July 2022 with open access sponsored by the Vietsch Foundation. It was contributed to by 20 leading figures across open source software and should be a great text for tertiary education and OSPO's.

Currently I sit on a number of Boards and Advisory Boards: 

  • Board Member UK Cabinet Office Open Standards Board; 

  • European Representative of the Open Invention Network since 2012; 

  • OASIS Open Projects' Advisory Council Member (open source and open standards); 

  • Advisory Board Member KDE;  

  • Advisory Board Member Planet Crust; 

  • Charity Trustee, Creative Crieff and GeekZone; and 

  • Member of commercial Advisory Boards including Mimoto and Everseen.

I've previously been:

  • Chair of the Open Source and Intellectual Property (IP) Advisory Group of the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs;

  • Member of the Cabinet Office Advisory on Open Source circa 2010 inputting into UK Policy;

  • Member of the original Open Stack Drafting Committee setting up the Open Stack Foundation in 2012; and

Advisory Board Member, UK Government Energy Sector Digitalisation Task Force whose Recommendations January 2022 included an open source software spine for the UK Energy sector.

I am honoured to have been recognised by the industry:

I am Scottish, live in London with Kitten Dundee and identify as both ASD and ADHD.

How will you contribute to the board 

The trajectory of open source software as the pre-eminent model for software development globally in the last decade must imho be managed though supporting the OSI and its guardianship of the OSD, whilst supporting open source adoption across ever increasing new sectors. I am concerned that a lack of care, understanding and education in the nuances of open source software poses a threat to the future of the OSD and OSI. A strong OSI is critical to the longevity of open source software.

In my experience the OSD has been under challenge firstly in the operating system market, cloud computing, and now in standards. Standards utilising FRAND licensed patents require an understanding of incompatibilities between Standard Essential Patents and open source software. This is currently a concern in the Mobile Network Operator space where vested interests and preservation of royalty revenues is causing challenges to the meaning of open source, looking to adapt it to suit existing financial and revenue generation models. 

I hope to help the OSI to meet the challenges of existing and new markets’ adoption of open source software and open source's disruptive impact on those sectors' revenue models by supporting a strong OSI and guardianship of the OSD.

Open source software needs to be seen to be maintained and secure as it increasingly forms the backbone of national infrastructure as well as the soul of digitalised businesses. I believe that this requires a consideration of its position as a public good and how it will be funded in the long term, including on a collaborative international Governmental basis. I hope to support this evolution and the OSI's participation in this.

Why you should be elected

I have  a unique mix of practical, business, fundraising and legal and governance skills in open source software, alongside an understanding of community, which I would bring to the OSI Board. I would emphasise skills development, sustainability and security, which are critical to the future of open source software as well as supporting the OSI in its guardianship of the OSD. From my experiences as CEO at OpenUK I can offer support to the OSI Executive Director.

As a passionate believer in open source software I have and will continue to raise my neck above the parapet to support the work of the OSI. 

I believe that my breadth of skills in open source software is unique amongst the individual candidates for the OSI board and am grateful for any support you may give me in these elections.

Type of seat: 


Hello, I have a small set of questions ....

(1) There are two OpenUK employees/directors running for a seat in this election. Notably, perhaps, one in the Individual and a second in the Affiliate slate. Did the two of you coordinate your decisions to campaign? Is it appropriate for a single organization to take multiple seats on a board of eight elected members? For that matter, is the decision to run two OpenUK representatives in the two separate election slates an intentional strategy meant to increase the odds of gaining two seats? If so, is that ethical?

(2) Again, regarding the purpose of Individual board seats. Do you see an Individual board seat as an obligation to represent the voice and priorities of the voters? Or, if elected, will you represent OpenUK's interests?

(3) To be more particular, if you are the CEO of OpenUK, is it even appropriate for you to run for an Individual seat? Based on the way the Individual/Affiliate seat split is described on the OSI site, I would say it sounds like an obvious, inherent breach of the meaning of "Individual". I would assume, based on the fact of your candidacy, that you feel differently; so please elaborate. Why should an individual voter vote for the head of an official Affiliate organization to take up an Individual seat on the OSI board? E.g., will you pledge not to use your Individual seat to represent OpenUK's positions while on the board?

(4) In addition to your role at OpenUK, you have listed eight other NPOs by name that you serve on in some capacity (although that includes an "including [...]" so it's not a precise count). What is your time commitment to those organizations? What portion of your time will OSI get?

(5) Are the goals & areas of concern (for the OSD, etc) that you list in the "contribution" section things that you are not able to address in your role as CEO of OpenUK?

(6) Perhaps similarly, in the "why" section, you say you will support the executive director of OSI and raise your neck to support the work of the OSI. Can you not do both of those things as part of your role at OpenUK?

Dear nwillis Thanks for taking the time to share your “small set of 6 questions” - quite a long and challenging set in fact, and a few more than you have provided for each of the other candidates. Of course I am not aware of any ethical issue or conflict. The role of a Director is to act in the best interest of the organisation of which they are a Director and that is what I would seek to do if I was fortunate enough to be elected to the Board. I would also act in the best interests of Open Source. Matt and I each bring a very different set of skills to our candidacies, but with both of us being passionate about Open Source and our communities. The OSI Board role is, as you point out, very different from my CEO role at OpenUK. At a time when the OSI, is seeking to shift its board to professionalise this in a way this answers your final question. It’s kind of you to point out my service across a number of Not for Profit organisations. These are mostly related to Open Source and I believe that my past and current service to a variety of not for profits reflects my passion for Open Source and of course enhances my ability to do a good job for the OSI as it professionalises its Board, should I be elected. Whilst I really do appreciate your concern for my time, I feel very comfortable that I will be able to deliver the level of time commitment required, should I be elected and of course this would lead to my reprioritising my time to support this. Amanda

Thanks for replying. I have some follow-ups below.

Of course I am not aware of any ethical issue or conflict.

That was not the question, though. I'm asking about the principle: given that OSI board structure has an explicit instrument for the affiliate organizations to participate, why are you, as a candidate who is the CEO of one of those affiliate organizations, not running for the Affiliate seat? Not a hypothetical other director; you personally.

I would also act in the best interests of Open Source.

I'm assuming this is meant in response to question (2). If so, I think it's too broad to communicate. "Open Source" as an abstract contains many, many constituencies, including the affiliate organizations, individual contributors, a variety of projects, and a host of commercial actors (including, e.g., those who are forced to release source code begrudgingly....)

As a voter who is permitted to vote only on the Individual seat slate, it matters a great deal if candidates pledge to represent the viewpoint of the electorate or to act on behalf of their employer's interests.

So, let me try again: if you were to be elected to the board and an issue arises where OpenUK's priorities are potentially at odds with that of other folks in the open-source community, will your position be to seek out and represent the will of the voters, or will it be to advocate for OpenUK's official stance?

Matt and I each bring a very different set of skills to our candidacies, but with both of us being passionate about Open Source and our communities.

Here as well; this reply does not address the question asked. The question is whether or not the two of you coordinated your candidacies. As I said originally, if the answer is "yes", that is clearly problematic for the effect is has on diluting the voice of voting members in other organizations (and, indeed, those in no formal organizations). You'll forgive me for rephrasing this in more matter-of-fact terms, but it matters a great deal: is it yes or no?

I responded to Luis' questions on twitter, when asked, but know that some of you will not follow this on twitter, so for ease of reference, adding these here:

1. Luis Villa luis_in_brief 1st, a repeat from 2020 and 2021, possibly *the* existential question for the OSI board: “What should OSI do about the…millions of people who… collaborate to build software online (often calling that [collaboration] open source) but have…no idea what OSI is or what it does?”

Amanda Brock amandabrockUK: "Education, education, education. Kids, students, apprenticeships and more. There’s a world of influencers and conference speakers who would support the necessary and appropriate messaging."

2. Luis Villa luis_in_brief 2nd, also (sort of) a repeat: what should OSI’s relationship to the Organization for Ethical Source and Free Software Foundation (and their relevant movements) be? Relevant detail/nuance in both my 2020 and 2021 questions:

Amanda Brock amandabrockUK: "Collaborate and support but don’t be sidetracked from its own opensource mission."

3. Luis Villa luis_in_brief: 3rd, what *additive* skills/perspectives do you bring to the board? This could be finance/money, ED/staff management, non-Valley/EU perspective… many options.

Amanda Brock amandabrockUK: "Am I technically a lawyer candidate The old legal skills are useful from a policy and governance perspective. My additives are fundraising, running a not for profit, EU, UK, DEI and Belonging…oh and a bit of understanding of some strategic stuff that impacts opensource

4.  Luis Villa luis_in_brief: 4th, OSI is in process of shifting from a board-driven to a staff-driven org. How do you plan to support that transition in particular, and OSI’s staff more generally?

Amanda Brock, amandabrockUK: "It’s an appropriate transition as a Board should not be the Executive function. We can all support the OSI staff with influence and helping open doors, as well as being a sounding board - pretty much what the tremendous  OpenUK openuk_uk board do for me!"

5. Luis Villa luis_in_brief: 5th, repeat from 2020: “You have 24 hours in the day and are talented enough to do many different things. Why do you want to give some of those hours to OSI?”

Amanda Brock, amandabrockUK: Why thank you! I consider the OpenSourceOrg and its custodianship of the OSD/ licensing as critical to the future of opensource and that a strong OSI is fundamental to its longevity. If I have useful skills I am happy to make time to support it.

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.