Do Not Give Up, MA Was Not Fatal

Monday, 2007-August-06 at 16:18

Bob Sutor discusses what happens after September 2nd (the end of the balloting period for Microsoft / Ecma-376, OOXML at the ISO) . Some have recently sounded of doom and gloom. The unspoken message is that life is dismal and getting worse. Bob’s words are a breath of fresh air.

t’s important for everyone involved to keep a sense that what we are seeing here is an important, but incremental, change in the way standards are understood and are created. The work will continue and people will do other and more varied activities. Some of them will even be furthering the work of producing ever more open standards. I think the number of such people will be significantly larger than it was even a year ago.

My comments, in part, say:

Bob, thank you for the perspective. A number of writers have been on a doom and gloom kick recently. I have to say that it was never going to be easy to bring openness and restore balance in the market and industry. A little roughness here and there should be expected. After all, by keeping things closed, one company gained monopoly share. They will push back long and hard before they lose that, and openness is the thing they fear will cause them to lose it.

No monopolist ever voluntarily falls back into the pack and becomes an equal with its competitors. No state agency will voluntarily give up its premier customer position with an entrenched monopoly, either. It is when a real movement of consumers and *voters* demands changes that governments will change. Once they change, you’ll be surprised at just how many standards groups will decide that they’ve been a little too lax in the past.

I think that transforming our society and making it more open and participatory (and the same for other societies around the world) is a worthwhile goal. Openness in software, in entertainment, in government and politics, and in business & finance, is the goal we seek and we must not let a little hardship (or even disagreements among those who seek openness) to cloud our vision.

If Microsoft succeeds in pushing Office Not-so-open XML on the world, the rush to openness will not stop, even if it slows. The collapse of the monopoly will not stop, even if it appears unassailable. Instead, openness will corrode the grip of the powerful elite from underneath and within. Suddenly, within a period of a few weeks or months, the tide will turn and even the allies of the Dark Lord of Redmond will swear that they were working for openness all along.

Therefore, let us take this quest house to house and door to door, into company IT departments and government electoral debates. Let us meet the Dark Lord's masses wherever they may be entrenched and weaken their grips in every place. Are you designing PDAs or mobile phones or GPS receivers? Try your best to use open systems. Are you writing novels? Write using open systems and find a way to feature open systems in your books. Are you able to set standards for what gets used in your organization? As much as you can, specify open products.

Do not expect those who have the world in their grip to just give it to us. We have to take it. We are well able to take it, and we will succeed admirably, even if it takes time. Don't forget Deming, who found that his theories of quality improvement were ignored in postwar America, so he took his message to Japan, leading to the Toyota that even today is whipping the hineys of American car companies.

Entry filed under: ODF, Open Standards.

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