About OCF

Learn more about our activism, our history, and our core values.

The Origins of Open Source

The idea of “Open Culture” originated in the open software movement. In the beginning, due to the dominant business model and closed-mindset of the era, if users encountered bugs or felt dissatisfied with the purchased software, they would have to report the issues to the manufacturer and wait for an update. This slow-paced process stifled the development of software. In response, the free software and open source movements started in the late 1980’s and both advocated for the publishing of source code to make software editable by users and thereby encourage a collaborative form of work. These movements caused a big revolution in the tech communities of the time and brought in a new spirit of openness.

Open Source- Like lego blocks

There are two schools of open source advocacy: Free Software and Open Source Software. When we refer to Open Source on this website, we are broadly referring to when source code or key documentation is open. We are not specifically referring to the definitions usually given for free or open source software. With regards to the definition of Open Source, we highly recommend the lego-piece video made by Bit Blueprint, which explains the concept in only a few minutes. Thanks to Jimmy Huang for producing subtitles in Chinese (Traditional).

The Open Source All Around You

From large, global softwares like Linux, FireFox, the Android operating system, the BSD operating system of early mac devices, Apache HTTP server, wikipedia down to smaller projects well-known in Taiwan like Hackfolder, jobhelper, legislator voting guide, the mask map. All these are examples of open-source projects. There are open source operating systems, browsers, video management tools and even programming languages! Check them all out here!

From Open Source to Open Technology

Building on the core ideas of “openness, transparency and participation” that emerged from open source, new concepts such as “open data” and “open government” have arisen, which carry open source’s core values into industry, civic life, and government. Open Culture Foundation uses the term “Open Technology” to refer to the intersection of open source, open data and open government. By promoting open tech, we hope that openness, transparency and participation can not only be key to how we develop software, but also how we run society.

We believe that Open technology is the key to protecting our digital human rights and internet freedom. Although there has been more attention paid to both these issues in recent years, such discussion is increasingly focused on regulation of digital technologies and not on their design. Open technology is thus a design philosophy that we believe needs to be in place to build systems that can ensure digital human rights and internet freedom. If we want to live in a world with a free and safe internet, we need to build our technology and our society with the principles of openness.

In short, we believe that everything from hardware circuit board design, and information obtained from people and in the public benefit should be made open, transparent and accessible within reasonable and appropriate boundaries depending on the type of data. This includes government-produced information, medical knowledge, and professional/scientific knowledge in various fields. We want to stop gatekeeping and tear down the walls built around expert knowledge. With public collaboration, we believe we can encourage the rapid development and long-term maintenance of such knowledge. All of this falls within the framework of Open technology. Open tech and openness exists within all corners of our life, and we can push for more openness across a range of social, technical and political sectors.

Why was OCF set up?

Taiwan’s open source communities have always been very lively. Over the last decade, there have been many new open source conferences held by the community. The financial documentation needed to host a conference had previously been handled by a private enterprise or social organization, but both options come with organizational constraints, so we set up a non-profit.

In June of 2014, g0v cofounder clkao started the process, and members of the COSCUP、PyCon Taiwan、OSDC communities and the businesses Netivism and Izero all donated funds. With the help of long-term open source advocate pofeng and jimyhuang, as well as bobchao and honki, Open Culture Foundation sent an application to the Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government. The 10331440100’th letter was sent from the department, and the rest is history!

What does OCF do?

We advocate for open tech, which comprises open source, open government, open data, as we believe open tech is the key to ensuring digital human rights and internet freedom. We advocate for open tech through a range of different strategies:

1) Supporting Taiwanese Open Tech Communities

We provide administrative, accounting, and legal support to local open tech communities, including: COSCUP (open source), g0v summit (civic tech), PyCon (programming), SITCON (youth), OpenStreetMap, OpenLab Taipei (art), and many more.

2) Promoting Collaboration

We connect communities with industries, governments, academia and NGOs to build an ecosystem of open culture. We hold events regarding digital security for NGOs, media literacy, citizen engagement of public policies and disinformation.

3) International connection

We host and facilitate international activities, workshops and conferences, bridging local and international open tech communities for better knowledge exchange, skill sharing and collaboration. OCF is a member of Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and partner of the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI).

4) Project work

When there isn’t an open tech community working on a particular project, we work on it ourselves. As we have grown, we have begun working on more of our own projects that seek to promote open tech in Taiwan and abroad. You can learn more about these here.

How do we keep ourselves running?

Our expenses include administrative, event, and office operating costs. Our Funding mainly comes through two channels: 1) the collection of service fees from the communities we support and 2) regular and fixed donations.

As a fiscal sponsor for open tech communities, in addition to collecting our own administrative fund, funds that are donated to each community project is earmarked for that project specifically.

Our annual reports include a detailed account of our income and expenses each year.

Back to main page to check them out.