PlexNex2 Launches to the Applause of...
...3 cats, two cockatiels, and a Great Dane named Lucy.
As of today, my blogging moves over to PlexNex2.
Please go there for the latest.
...3 cats, two cockatiels, and a Great Dane named Lucy.
Don Sambandaraksa's article in the Bangkok Post represents the most comprehensive mainstream journalistic effort that I have seen in the English language to synthesize the issues of open file formats with simple examples of how open standards can improve the efficiency of government services. The principal example is the response of the Thai government to the tsunami one year ago this Boxing Day.
"You're seeing the last battle of vendors who are still trying to maintain some sort of market position by controlling data and information," Sutor said.The article also mentions the Berkman Center's Roadmap for Open ICT Ecosystems, which would make awfully nice bedside reading over the holidays for anyone wishing to catch up on where the open standards & eGovernment conversations lie in places like:
He also cited the response at the Federal level towards Hurricane Katrina. The FEMA web site would only accept requests for aid from people using Microsoft Internet Explorer. People using Linux, Macs or Firefox on Windows were effectively cut off from state aid, which Sutor said was "just not appropriate."
James Guv'nah has an interesting post on some interesting developments in the respective skunkworks at IBM & Sun which echoes my feelings precisely.
Hey, you'll never guess what I found out today!
"OpenOffice spokesman Sam Heiser [sic] predicts that OpenOffice.org will become the dominant desktop productivity standard within the next 10 years."I would be happier about this pick-up if they had just spelled my name right. But I have only Thor to blame.
The project considers a Linux win anywhere to also be an OpenOffice.org win, because all the major distributions -- including Red Hat, SuSE and Debian -- now bundle the OpenOffice.org suite with their software. But it would be a mistake to equate OpenOffice.org with Linux, Heiser said.I remember that conversation with Thor like it was yesterday. I was so pumped saying that stuff that, today, I hardly recognize the person who said it. Audacious...forceful...certain.
In fact, at last count, more than 60 percent of OpenOffice.org downloads are served to Windows users, he said, though he noted that "quite a few of them" utilize multiple platforms, not just Windows. But the project is looking to take more Windows users.
"That's our market," he Heiser said. "The 40 percent to 60 percent of Microsoft Office users who are using legacy versions, who did not pay, who aren't that involved with the software acquisition process, who don't really care about their toolset and use whatever is in front of them. These are intelligent people, but they don't care much about the software. They use whatever is around. OpenOffice is what's around."
"If you take a look at where we're going with innovation, what we have in the pipeline, I'm very excited. The output of our innovation is great," says Ballmer. "We won the desktop. We won the server. We will win the Web. We will move fast, we will get there. We will win the Web." (Business Week, September 25, 2005)Observe how he judiciously abuses the word 'innovation' -- sputtering like the village idiot having just stumbled into two lovers in the grass under the shade of the old Oak tree (such as you might find in a Constable, a Fragonard or an early Goya).
Andy Updegrove kindly provides on Consortiuminfo.org his play-by-play notes from the Senate Reading Room on Beacon Hill, today (Wednesday, December 14, 2005).
Hon. Marc R. Pacheco
Industry sources indicated Thursday that Ecma International has voted to create the Technical Committee and move ahead with submission of Microsoft's "Open"XML to that standards body. The one dissenting vote -- the lone dissenting vote -- among members of the TC was IBM's. hp abstained, which is equivalent according to Ecma rules to a "no" vote.
(Florentine Street Sceen. Photograph, Ben Hammersley)
Matt, who is doing the real work, explains it best:
'Ever wondered what’s in that archive? Who looks after it? It turns out there’s a huge database that’s been carefully tended by a gang of crack BBC librarians for decades. Nearly a million programmes are catalogued, with descriptions, contributor details and annotations drawn from a wonderfully detailed controlled vocabulary. I’m the lucky developer who gets to turn this hidden treasure into a public website. No programme downloads yet, but a massive searchable programme catalogue.'
Think IMDB for the BBC, only bigger. And made by funky bastards with a penchant for structured data.
In announcing Harold Pinter as the winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Horace Engdahl, Chairman of the Swedish Academy, said that Pinter "in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms."
I put to you that [Microsoft] is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all [Microsoft managers in the papers] say the words, 'the [customers of Microsoft]', as in the sentence, 'I say to the [customers of Microsoft] it is time to pray and to defend the rights of [our users] and I ask the [Customers of Microsoft] to trust their [Leader] in the action he is about to take on behalf of the [great installed base].'
It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words '[the Customers of Microsoft]' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.
Letter from CCIA President, Ed Black, compares OpenDocument to the Internet protocol, TCP/IP. Is it so?
Dec. 7, 2005
Mr. Harald Theis
Dear Mr. Theis:
Tomorrow you will hold a preliminary vote on the proposed establishment of an Ecma International standard around Microsoft’s Office XML formats. On behalf of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, I respectfully request that you reject this proposal.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has supported “Open Markets, Open Systems, Open Standards” since our inception in 1972. Members employ more than 600,000 workers and generate annual revenues in excess of $200 billion.
We support openness because it leads to greater competition, lower costs and more innovation. Open standards, moreover, prevent vendors from designing technology control points that keep customers locked in long after they want to switch to other products.
No one begrudges any company the opportunity to make new versions of its products compatible with previous ones. The larger problem is the frustration that arises when businesses, consumers and governments must deal with “standards” that are simple ratifications of what almost any proprietary software company would do in the normal course of business.
Microsoft, in fact, has promised the world an open standard. On Nov. 21, Microsoft’s Jean Paoli said: “We are expanding the language of the current royalty-free license to specifically enable developers who work only with open source licensing to also be able to work with Office Open XML. This will enable any customer or technology provider to use the file formats in its own systems without financial consideration to Microsoft.”
There can be doubt of the importance of this proposal. Hundreds of millions of people are dependent on Office software for their daily computing needs. Yet, for all of its importance, the proposal before you does not meet basic principles of openness. It provides no assurances as to third-party access or implementation of the standard. The proposal does not call for open management and control. In fact, it indicates that no one can introduce or remove features from Office 12 save Microsoft itself. Lastly, there is no assurance that the Microsoft will actually support the standard should it disagree with actions taken by Ecma.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which rejected Microsoft’s earlier XML proposal -- indeed the world -- demands far more. Innovation requires that there be strong and productive competition in the marketplace. In the ITC sector, this means that standards must include the participation of many technology developers in order to assure the widest degree of adoption and interoperability.
Because open standards are by definition controlled by no single party, they facilitate interoperation among suppliers, partners, peers, and customers. Standards such as HTML, XML and TCP/IP maximize choice, minimize production costs and make competition work for customers of all kinds. In the long run, market forces work better, and vital records can be preserved forever -- not just for two or three product cycles. This proposed standard assures none of these things.
Mr. Theis, the world is at a crossroads. Much, if not most technological progress today takes place in a milieu of open standards. Rather than approve this proposal as is, we urge you to insist on true openness. You should demand more of any vendor that brings a standard to your committee. If Microsoft’s proposal is to have any meaning at all, competitive vendors and open source developers must have a strong role in its development. Microsoft, likewise, should promise to develop within the confines of the standard it puts forward, and should license any intellectual property within Office 12 so that all developers can be assured that their software licenses will not conflict with Microsoft’s. Once again we urge you to reject the proposal.
If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
President & CEO
Berlind is right on the money again.
IDC analyst, Frank Gens, talks of the "Google Effect" for 2006 in which IT companies opening up their business models and cultures will become hyped.
IBM announces that Workplace's release date is firming up for early 2006 (Martin Lamonica | CNet). Workplace features OpenDocument and MS Office file formats and will deliver office suite functionality to the browser. It is one of the prominent examples -- from Big Blue itself -- of applications drifting from the FAT client desktop into the data center; I've been thinking about other examples in this trend, lately:
Arthur's point is not lost on my US clients who are migrating their desktop applications to get open standards rolling. They are looking at the Asian countries, where low PC penetration experience provides a green field, making introduction of open standards and Open Source & Free Software measurably easier than in the US and Europe, where attachments to legacy formats and habits established over the last 15 years make change more difficult. The Westerners will be examining closely the economics and experiences of Asian governents and organizations, relishing their uniform deployments if not salivating at the IT-Nirvana of having the opportunity to make a clean start.
Arthur Fontaine, the marketing manager for Workplace Managed Client, believes IBM's support for industry standards and the server-centric design of Workplace will appeal to customers in developing countries, particularly governments.
"The governments of India, China and other emerging markets are very interested in this," Fontaine said. "They don't have the legacy of having everything saved in Microsoft Office to transition from...This is an opportunity to start out right."
"Don't waste your energy on the ugly. Save it for the beautiful."
Nick Carr (for one) legitimately highlights some of the problems with the World Wide Web: pornography, moribund & repetitive information ("echolalia" he aptly called it), reinforced errors, ranting. He correctly and helpfully cited examples on Wikipedia that rightly embarrass the concept.