The Basil Cousins Award: Honouring a Pioneer at the OFA Symposium

02 November 2023

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

On 28 November, in Berlin, the OpenForum Academy (OFA) Symposium will introduce a new tradition. The Basil Cousins Award will be instituted to honour the memory of the co-founder of OpenForum Europe (OFE) and a stalwart in the open technology field, Basil Cousins.

As we gather for the symposium, it will be a poignant moment for many to celebrate the legacy of a man who left an indelible mark on the world of technology and society.

Basil Cousins, a British native, was not just a founder but a visionary. Shane Coughlan, board member of OFE, aptly commemorated him as someone who delved deep into the intersection of technology and society. Basil believed in technology’s ability to empower and reshape humanity’s future. His journey from the traditional technology domain to becoming a spearhead for open innovation, epitomised by his co-founding of OpenForum Europe, bears testimony to his foresight and dedication.

Geoff Morris, formerly, President & CEO of x/Open Ltd  said “He became the Pied Piper for Open Systems in Europe. Over 40 years he successfully created and fostered many organisations to sustain the worldwide growth of Open Systems, to name three organisations, x/Open, Unix International and OpenForum Europe”.

However, his contributions went beyond establishing organisations. Basil’s ethos was built on the foundational understanding that technology is never neutral. It mirrors our perceptions, biases, and hopes. In acknowledging this, he took on the mantle of a conscious enabler. Not only did he tread this path but illuminated it for many, constantly mentoring and connecting like-minded individuals. In an industry marked by rapid shifts and tumultuous changes, Basil stood out as a beacon, guiding those who sought to make meaningful contributions.

With the introduction of the Basil Cousins Award, we aim to continue his mission. The award, carrying a prize money of €5000, will be given to a promising academic delving into the societal implications of open innovation and open technologies.