How To Silence Critics

Tuesday, 2007-January-23 at 00:07

Imagine that you are trying to build a new addition onto city hall, tocomplete your greatest achievement, the crowning glory of all that you have done over a period of fifteen years.  You announce it proudly—after all, this will be a really good thing.  But your neighbors disagree with you.

"It clashes with the way the rest of the building looks," one says.  "The framing does not fit with the standard fifteen inch distance we've set for the rest of the building," says another.

"But," you say, "my section is the biggest part of the building.  It isn't fair for you to force me to make my section match everyone else's.  You guys should have to match mine!  And what's more, I'm not going to give you my list of materials that I used.  If you want city hall to have a harmonious design, you have to use the design I chose."

Of course, your neighbors would stew for a while, and then finally surround your house in the middle of the night and "persuade you" to do things their way or move to the next town.

So what if you could silence the discussion before everyone becomes aware of just how much different your section is from theirs?  What if you could hire a supposedly neutral person to take over the town newspaper and publicize your point of view?

Now what if, instead of the city hall building, the issue was the file format of the office applications suite that will be used in city hall?  Ordinarily, this would be a very quiet discussion, lasting all of thirty seconds—if the company with the largest market share chooses a file format, all the others have to clone that format in their own products.  However, we now have internationally-approved standards for file formats in office applications, and governments around the world are choosing to use the standards.

One company is refusing to support the standard, saying instead that the formats that they choose must be made into a standard of equal weight to the one that already exists.  That company, Microsoft, believes that it is mainly due to one competitor that people are hearing about all of the technical flaws in their chosen format, and now wants to poison Wikepedia's coverage with biased information, in the name of correcting FUD.  The good news is that Wikipedia is probably not going to allow it.

Entry filed under: ODF. Tags: .

T.U.R.: Is It Going Away? Maybe Because They Are Losing Control


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