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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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
[ED: An interesting view of the ODF Alliance by an informed source - HC]