[odf-discuss] Gnome Foundation and ECMA
ian.lynch at zmsl.com
Sat Nov 3 08:26:07 EDT 2007
On Fri, 2007-11-02 at 23:32 -0400, Jody Goldberg wrote:
> > If OOXML is not given ISO status, its pretty clear that MS will be
> > under much increased pressure to fully support odf by governments.
> To me that seems like one of those classic
> 'be careful what you wish for'
> type goals. MS's history of embracing and extend is daunting. It
> doesn't take much imagination to see how they could distort or
> pervert ODF if that was their goal.
If there is an agreed and published ISO standard I doubt that will be
possible. Their attempts to pervert W3C standards have not been
successful and non-IE browsers now thrive. The climate is different now.
I work a lot with high ranking government officials and I can assure you
that there is growing pressure for Office of Fair Trading and State Aid
complaints, in sharp contrast with complacency in the past. Certainly
its the case in Europe but then Europe is big enough on its own to have
a significant effect.
> I'm happier with them
> implementing their own format, and not perverting OO.o's.
They won't get a chance to but they will get a chance to delay the
inevitable with their own ISO format costing everyone a lot of money.
> My biases are self evident. I'm a developer,
And that resolves you from all responsibility for compromising strategy?
The romantic view of the loan hacker changing the world through the
anarchy of technical excellence has its place but there are increasingly
many exceptions. RMS has had more effect on the take up of free software
from his political activities than from his coding.
> that's how I approach
> things. On the other hand, FLOSS has made some amazing progress in
> the last decade. Progress that came as the result of amazing work
> by the kernel team, and the apache devs, and the mysql people, and
> the gcc communities, to name just a few. People _chose_ free
> software because it's better. Not because it's politically
As a hacker you are not going to like this reply but the research
evidence seems to be on my side. The technology just has to be good
enough - read the work of Clay Christensen at Harvard - to enable mass
take up by previously disenfranchised people. (This could be economic
but also in terms of participation of key people in good positions for
viral marketing) The fact that its free as in beer is disdained by many
developers but it really is an important factor particularly in the
governments of developing countries that can't afford to condone piracy.
Convenience - W3C and a largely open internet. Internet communications,
enable convenience of installation over the interent, community spirit
and participation are all significantly more important than excellence
of code once the code is good enough. It effectively becomes a
commodity. Moodle is a pretty good example and in the closed source
world DOS would never have got into the use it did if it was based on
the quality of code, there were many far better technologies available
at the time. Mass adoption beyond the immediate hacker community could
be on the basis of elegant code but its more likely on the large scale
to be on government or large corporate endorsement dependent on other
key factors. Political factors such as "Will I lose my job if things go
wrong" or does this fit our published procurement frameworks, is it
supported by an ISO standard?
> > Maybe debate on the political implications of particular actions also
> > needs to be given some thought. If technological excellence was the only
> > consideration, DOS, Windows 3 and Windows 95 would never have got a foot
> > hold.
> If only that was true. Free software didn't have a viable
> competitor to MS back then.
I used BSD 4.3 back in 1989. I used RISC OS which was technically more
elegant than anything Microsoft had at that time and arguably Apple.
Subsequent success was nothing to do with technical merit free or not
free. ARM only became successful when Acorn partnered with Apple and
VLSI - same technology, different politics and marketing. Free is
important, technical excellence is a different issue and there is very
little evidence to show that beyond a certain threshold, technical
excellence is a decisive factor. OOo shows that. Its got far greater
take up then any of the other free office software yet its arguably
technically inferior in many respects.
> We had some good pieces,
> sendmail/gcc/emacs but even the BSDs were mired in legal issues for
> part of that period. This is a technological problem, that's why
> we're winning now.
Sigh. I guess in the end you will believe what you want to believe.
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