French Govt to Adopt Open Document Format?

All French government publications should use OpenDocument Format (ODF), a comprehensive report (PDF) commissioned by French prime minister Dominique de Villepin recommends. An article on InfoWorld mentions that the report also recommends a government research centre for open source security, and the creation of a system for government agencies - local & national - to exchange information in the use of open source software.

All informative, vital, and timely, and quite possibly the basis for legislation soon. In the past few years European governments have been taking some interest in these & related topics, and even some Asian & South Amercian countires have started taking action. This is in stark contrast to the deafening silence on similar issues from the Canadian government. Far from giving serious consideration to what is undoubtedly to become of utmost importanance in our society, there has been little action on everything from open source in government, open document formats, software monopolies, TPMs, software patents, and a number of other critical issues. Let's stop pulling our punches: Facing the reality of government inaction for years now - especially in comparison to other countries - shouldn't groups such as GOSLING fundamentally revise their approach to how they get results?

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GOSLING is a "community of practise"

GOSLING is just a group of citizens getting together to chat, all people who have "interesting day jobs". It isn't a group intended to "do" anything, and thus doesn't have an "approach".

Are you thinking of CLUE? Are you a member? Do you have suggestions on funding sources, given it is currently 100% volunteer run -- and we all need to focus on our day jobs to put food ont he table.

I agree with you that software, the rules which our computer hardware obeys, is "undoubtedly to become of utmost importance in our society". This is as important an issue for our generation as the emergence of democracies as a governance structure was historically, moving away from feudal systems and dictatorships. Democracy and FLOSS isn't perfect, but it is far better than the alternatives.

That said, extremely few North Americans are even remotely aware of this issue, so trying to get the help of fellow Canadians is very hard. While I expected thousands, we haven't even broke 100 on our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights which demands that the Canadian government protect our basic right to choose what software runs on our personal digital hardware.

Your participation as a person with interesting ideas is of course always welcome! Have you convinced all your friends, family, enemies, acquaintances, etc to sign the IT property petition?


Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

Canada Way Behind on FLOSS

More needs to be done on FLOSS & realted files in Canada. These important areas receive much less attention here than in the US, Europe, and many other countries. Why?

To answer your points, you're right that Getting Open Source Logic Into Governments (GOSLING) isn't intended to "do" anything like militate for OSS into government, I guess the name threw me off. CLUE is more directly responsible for this, but ultimately the same criticism can be laid at their door.

I don't mean to criticise merely to disparage, and I think nothing would be greater than the OSS & copyleft movement being very successful. To answer your question, yes I've worked towards greater OSS adoption for years amongst my own friends & workmates, and in my own companies. But no, I'm not a member of CLUE and I believe that I don't have to be in order to be able to point out their lack of success, just like I don't have to be a politician or memeber of a political party to talk politics.

You mentioned yourself the low response rate to the online petition - no matter since petitions themselves usually have little effect in my experience. I've found using social networking sites and speaking engagements to any groups that will listen to be more effective in engagement. Unfortunately I cannot personally initiate other projects within the movement since, on top of work, I am already engaged about 25-50 hrs per week with other vital NGO/nonprofit groups and projects, some of which I notice you are a member of as well. What we need is more people. How could we get more people engaged in this issue?

Petitions / getting more people involved..

I can have the same critiques as you, but won't attribute them to the "groups" given it isn't CLUE that decided what level of resources are available from the Canadian FLOSS community. CLUE is already doing the maximum of what it can do with the resources it has been offered, so critiques of it rather than critiques of the apathy of the larger community won't have any effect.

Petitions are more powerful than you think, especially with historically obscure topics such as Copyright. The fact that we have over 2000 signatures to our first petition has had a large impact on the debate. The same with letter writing, which is best when it is a unique letter and seen as spontaneous, but is still helpful in building constituency issue contacts for MPs when they are form letters.

The new petition is very new territory for both potential signers and the politicians, and is primarily intended to be an educational tool. Few people have thought of the way "DRM" is actually implemented in the real world. When you point out what this technology IS rather than the features listed in marketing brochures, most people recognize it as a very bad idea (Two parts: deliberate incompatibilities between content and devices, and devices which treat their owners as attackers of what they own).

As to how to get more people involved, I am always looking for suggestions. There are many more people aware of the issues today than a little more than 5 years ago when Canada launched this round of consultations. We need to turn interest into activities that will be noticed by the politicians, so that they won't be blindly passing legislation that will greatly harm the interests of average Canadians, and will still not offer anything useful to the Copyright holding constituency they incorrectly thought they were helping.


Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.