Comment of the Day - 24-May-06

Posted by dcparris on May 24, 2006 6:27 AM EDT
LXer; By Dinotrac
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Dinotrac writes: "We see the repeated assertion of ODF = OpenOffice and Microsoft != ODF to support a misrepresentation so blatant that we are forced to abandon polite labels like advocacy, exaggeration, and puffery for the naked truth: he's lying."

There's a neat art lawyers and good pr flacks learn: how to lie without telling lies. It's a matter of framing, misdirection, and simply ignoring the inconvenient.

A couple of choice lines:

Finally Parris evades completely the big elephant in the room – that the adoption rate of OpenOffice and ODF is dismal.

From all signs I think this directive will cost at least as much, and probably more, than a policy that allows state IT administrators to consider all alternatives, including the use of Microsoft software.

We see the repeated assertion of ODF = OpenOffice and Microsoft != ODF to support a misrepresentation so blatant that we are forced to abandon polite labels like advocacy, exaggeration, and puffery for the naked truth: he's lying.

The Massachusetts IT policy absolutely allows state IT administrators to choose Microsoft software. The policy simply mandates the use of an ISO information-exchange standard.

Microsoft is, of course, free to implement the standard, much as it chooses to implement http and html in Internet Explorer. The standard is documented, published, and free of strings. Massachusetts policy provides plenty of time for that. Years ago, Microsoft included import/export for just about every competitive product on the market. ODF support will not overly burden them. Given the fondness some governments have for ISO standards, it might even help them.

Alternatively, IT administrators could use tools written by someone other than Microsoft. The ODF Foundation provided just such a plug-in in response to a Massachusetts senator's enquiry. If Microsoft stands fast, Massachusetts businesses might even make a few dollars providing their own alternatives.

That is Titch's tripping point, the light to his lie. Technology writer Scott Kirsner used to write a column called @large for the business section of the Boston Globe. His final @large column, which came out around the time that the ODF issue heated up, looked back on changes to the local high-tech economy:


When I began writing it, in February 2000, the local tech economy was sizzling. Harvard students were dropping out to build websites, and my first column was about how challenging it was to find affordable office space. ... But nearly six years later, high-tech and biotech are facing big problems both industries have barely begun to address.

Kirsner lamented the state of high tech in a region that gave us, among other things, Digital Equipment and Lotus Software. He noted a tendency for business to eschew innovation, to stick with the tried and the true. That very flight from innovation, of course, is precisely what Titch advocates.

Titch scolds:

Nowhere does Parris say how much Massachusetts is going to save, or gain in economic value

Change costs money. Nobody's denying that. It just does. Massachusetts government will pay a short-term price for this change, just like it's paid a short term price for a multitude of other changes. But the actual cost to the economy will be lower than that because the nature of the changes required imply that much of that money will go to local consulting firms, local IT workers, university grants and the like.

Long term potential is always difficult to measure, but who, other than TItch, can imagine that the home of MIT and the Harvard Business School will not benefit from a move that opens up opportunities for internationally marketable business solutions?

Kirsner asks the better -- and bigger -- question:

So what are you doing to help new industries take shape, or to get your kids ready for jobs in those industries?

Titch's reply? In so many words, "Doing my best to prevent it." He prefers Washington software to Massachusetts initiative and hustle. While shedding crocodile tears for Massachusetts taxpayers, he fights to send their money, their opportunities, and their bright young faces flush with the glow of great things yet to come, straight out of town.

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