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With more than a million standards in place in the world today, it is axiomatic that we are all profoundly affected by their existence. Yet only a very small number of people are involved in the creation of these standards, relative to the billions that are impacted by their implementation.
Like many that have followed the OpenDocument Format (ODF) story in Massachusetts, I've wondered what former State CIO Peter Quinn would eventually decide to do after announcing his resignation late last year.
When Peter Quinn announced the adoption of the new Massachusetts Enterprise Technology Reference Model (which included the OpenDocument Format) in September of last year, he specified January 1, 2007 as the conversion date for ODF. But did that make sense?
Last summer, IBM set up Power,org, to promote its PowerPC chip as what it called "open hardware." This year, Sun launched the OpenSPARC.net open source project around the source code for its Niagera microprocessor. But what does "open" mean in the context of hardware?
It is perhaps no surprise that Minnesota, a blue state like Massachusetts and heir to the political traditions of the Prairie Populists, should be the next state to host a bill to require "open data formats." In spirit, this is a good thing, as it indicates a broadening appeal for open document format standards that, if missing, would be worrisome.
Things have been busy in Massachusetts this year for ODF. Some of the roadblocks that had loomed ahead are now behind, and some new ones are ahead.
A bill has been introduced in Minnesota that would require all Executive branch agencies to "use open standards in situations where the other requirements of a project do not make it technically impossible to do this."
The text of the bill is focused specifically on "open data formats." While the amendment does not refer to open source software, the definition of "open standards" that it contains would be conducive to open source implementations of open standards. The fact that such a bill has been introduced is significant in a number of respects. First, the debate over open formats will now be ongoing in two U.S. states rather than one. Second, if the bill is successful, the Minnesota CIO will be required to enforce a law requiring the use of open formats, rather than be forced to justify his or her authority to do so. Third, the size of the market share that can be won (or lost) depending upon a vendor's compliance with open standards will increase. And finally, if two states successfully adopt and implement open data format policies, other states will be more inclined to follow.
Last week, the City of Bristol, England, anounced that it would convert its 5,500 desktops from Microsoft Office to Sun's StarOffice. Now, the National Archives of Australia (NAA) has announced that it will move its digital archives program to OpenOffice 2.0.
The Massachusetts decision to implement OpenDocument Format (ODF) has attracted so much attention that little has been directed at other end users (governmental and otherwise) that have decided to adopt ODF. But there are others.
Lately, there seem to have been more high-profile "standards wars" than ever before.
In what must have seemed to many as a bold move, Sun Microsystems last week announced that it would released the source code for its UltraSparc T1 processor under the GPL, supported by a new organization that it calls OpenSPARC.net.
In the last several days there have been several stories in the news that highlight the increasing tension between ownership of intellectual property rights (IPR) and the opportunities that become available when broader, free access to those rights is made available.
Since I posted yesterday's blog entry about Microsoft joining the ISO voting comments reconciliation subcommittee, I've received some questions about how that process works, and how long it will take.
A few days ago, I got an email from someone with news of an interesting development in the ongoing ODF saga. Pamela Jones at Groklaw got an email as well.
If you follow technology news or music news (or both), you doubtless know of an amendment to a French on-line copyright bill that would make it legal to thwart the digital rights protection (DRM) software of the fabulously successful Apple iTunes/iPod system.
As you may recall, the ODF Alliance was formed on March 3, 2006. Given that they've already had, oh, two and a half weeks to change the world, I thought I'd check out the Alliance Website to see whether they had achieved their manifest destiny yet.
Last year, the IT departments of municipalities in Massachusetts became part of a war of disinformation, and later a political football, in the battle over ODF. Now, they'll have a chance to hear the whole story, and make up their own minds what is best for them, and for their constituencies.
One of the more bizarre, but less noticed threads in the OpenDocument Format (ODF) story in Massachusetts involves whether or not the many hundreds of municipalities in Massachusetts would be required to use software that supported ODF, or at least be able to work with documents created using such software when they interacted with State government. Later this month, the CIOs of Massachusetts municipalities will have a chance to get the straight story when Peter Quinn's successor Louis Gutierrez, who is implementing ODF, and State Supervisor of Public Records Alan Cote, who is critical of ODF, appear on the same stage to give their views at a meeting of the Massachusetts Government Information Systems Association.
Boston Globe Ombudsman Richard Chacon has pledged to "examine issues of ethics and how this newspaper measures up to readers' expectations," and says he needs the help of vigilent readers. Uh, isn't the ball in his
I'm not a Boston Globe subscriber (I'm a Times man, myself), so it was an alert Standards Blog reader Patrick McCormick who e-mailed me to let me know that Globe ombudsman Richard Chacon had written something that I'd find interesting, and he was right. Regular readers will recall that Mr. Chacon had promised way back on December 12 of last year to look into the circumstances surrounding the writing of a Globe article that contributed to the resignation of Massachusetts State CIO Peter Quinn. No, this article is not the long anticipated report on that subject. Instead, it’s a piece titled The Ethics Project that appeared in yesterday's Sunday edition.
When it comes to politics and technology, there are always (at least) two opinions. Today, I provide the full interview with Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records Alan Cote, whose views on ODF differ substantially from those usually expressed in the Standards Blog
One of the most vocal opponents of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) in Massachusetts has been Supervisor of Public Records Alan Cote. Cote has testified in open hearings, spoken to reporters, and communicated the views of Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin. In this extensive interview, I ask Alan for his side of the ODF story, what his concerns are, and what he thinks should happen next. Along the way, he says some surprising things, like this: " I am not opposed to ODF and I think it does show promise as one of the formats our government should use to accomplish our goals of preserving records and serving the public."
[ED: Another must read article on the nitty gritty fight for ODF with a must read interview - HC]
Massachusetts legislators on Beacon Hill today will see a demonstration of accessibility features for Office 7, but they won't see the complete picture.
Today, interested Massachusetts legislators are being offered a pre-release demonstration of the accessibility features of Microsoft's Office 2007. What I understand they will see will be a subset of Windows features used in conjunction with a subset of third party accessibility tools, configured by experts, and demonstrated by sighted technicians. What they won't see is what it would be like for someone with disabilities trying to learn how to use a new system, using new accessibility tools (assuming that the old tools in fact are ported to the new platform). Not to mention the big bills that tax payers will need to pay to purchase those tools.
[ED: The continuing, important story of OpenDocument Format - this time a MS effort to block it by demostrating its innovative technologies. Tastes good ... something like fudge. - HC]
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