Free/Libre and Open Standards

It is said that vendor-defendant file and communications formats are the "second hand smoke" issue of the Internet. Before consumers/citizens can be said to have choice on ICT there must be a strong government support for free/libre and vendor neutral standards.

Unfair promotion of vendor products by the CRTC

Mathieu Allard, Saint Boniface constituent and NDP candidate in recent election, wrote the following to the Heritage Minister and his MP. I have also written about this important issue, and hope others will write letters to their elected representatives.

The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

CC The Honourable Raymond Simard

Dear Minister,

I am bringing this issue to your attention as the CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

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French law targets Apple iTunes incompatibilities

A Reuters article (published in Australian IT) includes:

Under a draft law expected to be voted in France's parliament soon, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management - the codes that protect music, films and other content - if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.

Governments, Users and Providers of Office Applications Unite to Advance Adoption of OpenDocument Format (ODF) OASIS Standard

An OASIS news release includes:

“The life of a document may far exceed that of a particular software product or vendor. Users have a right to retain control over their work—no matter when their documents were created or what tool was used to create them. Open standards in general, and ODF in particular, can help ensure that right,” noted Don Harbison of IBM, convenor and proposed chair of the new OASIS ODF Adoption Committee. “Our team will work to help users understand what's really at stake here and the advantages ODF offers for platform- and application-independent documents.”

See also: Businesswire

OpenOffice is ten years behind MS Office? That's just fine!

This amusing article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols includes:

That is to say, Microsoft seems to think is only good for single-desktop users.

And, that's a problem because...?
There's been no real progress in Office suites for years. That's for a very good reason. By 1997, they already did what 99 percent of all users want them to do.

As for the "improvements," you can keep most of them.

Push to create OpenDocument standards

This article by Steve Lohr of the The New York Times includes:

With government records, reports and documents increasingly being created and stored in digital form, there is a software threat to electronic access to government information and archives.
To cope with the problem, 30 companies, trade groups, academic institutions and professional organizations are expected to announce on Friday the formation of the OpenDocument Format Alliance, which will promote the adoption of open technology standards by governments.

Peter Quinn's First Interview (Past CIO of Massachusetts)

Peter Quinn, former CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has given an interview to Pamela Jones over at Groklaw, regarding the people, companies, and events surrounding his resignation. He spins an interesting tale of Microsoft, money, and the politics of technology.

Is it a Compact Disc Digital Audio CD or is it not?

I read an article in p2pnet describing a CD that seemed to have both the CDDA logo indicating a standard CD as well as a "copy control" warning.

If any Canadians see a CD with both the Red Book audio CD logo on it and copy control, please let us know. It is likely illegal in Canada and many other countries to do that given the Red Book logo is labelling indicating a specific encoding standard on the CD, and any type of "copy control" is by definition not conforming to that standard.

New open-source license targets DRM, Hollywood

An article by Martin LaMonica , Staff Writer, CNET includes:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--The new version of the most widely used open-source license takes a "highly aggressive" stance against the digital rights management software that's widely favored in the entertainment industry, said Eben Moglen, general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.

This should not come as a surprise. FLOSS ensures the accountability and transparency to the user of the workings of software. The intention of DRM is to circumvent that transparency and protect a third party (the DRM manufacturer, and theoretically their customers in Hollywood) from the owner of a computer. See the LAFKON movie about "Trusted Computing".

Software as a branch of political science.

I often find I bump into technical people who are part of a belief system called Technological Determinism. It is marked by the belief "that the development of technology itself follows a path largely beyond cultural or political influence, and that technology in turn has 'effects' on societies that are inherent, rather than socially conditioned".

I believe that the opposite is true. While our discovery of natural sciences may be partially independent of social science influences such as politics and law, that technology is the application of natural sciences. How we apply what we learn is itself a social science, making technology inherently a mixture of natural and social sciences.

Firefox plans mass marketing drive -- volunteer video marketing...

This article by Ingrid Marson, Special to CNET includes:

Beard said the corporation is planning a "big marketing push" that will coincide with the release of 1.5. This will include a community marketing campaign that will encourage Firefox fans to tell the world about their favorite browser by publishing home-made videos on a Mozilla Web site.

This will be fun to watch. Not only will it demonstrate the power of P2P advertising, but also how many everyday citizens have the interest in making videos. This isn't something just for the 'big boys' any more, and governments need to realize this so that their laws aren't always trying to shut down this legitimate creativity.

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