Update on ODF and Massachusetts

As Andy points out, “Silence means consent”. If this is a topic that is important to you (and it should be), I’d also encourage to take a few minutes and make your opinion known.

A few days ago, I posted my comments to the Mass. ITD on whether or not it should include OOXML in its list of approved standards. I also urged anyone with an opinion on this issue to send their own comments to the ITD at this address: standards@state.ma.us. Now, Pamela Jones, who has contributed hugely to the ODF effort in the past, has just posted a long and informative entry at Groklaw, pointing her readers to various resources that they may wish to consult in preparing their own comments, as well as ideas on the various areas upon which comments may be relevant. PJ has done her usual great job on this, and I’d encourage you to read her entry to see how her observations strike you.

It’s particularly important for you to consider doing so, because I learned from a reporter today that only about 50 comments have been filed with the ITD so far. With only 8 days to comment left, this compares very poorly to the over 150 comments that were received by the ITD in 2005. I have no idea what percentage of these comments are pro OOXML and what percentage urge the ITD to stick only with ODF, but given the small number in total, it could easily be disproportionate in one direction or the other, especially if a concerted effort has been made by one constituency or the other to influence the outcome.

Regular readers will know that I think that this is an important issue. Right now, the default decision in the ITD’s new version of the Enterprise Technical Reference Model is to include OOXML. In my last post, I paraphrased one slogan from the activist 1960’s that helped to shape a lot of who I am today. I’d like to now offer another catchphrase from those braver and more involved times, this time a chant from the many protest rallies that punctuated the antiwar movement: “Silence means consent.”

That slogan is particularly apt now, because the fewer the comments the ITD receives, the more certain will be the result. After all, if people no longer care, why should the ITD stick its neck out? The past immediate experiences of both Peter Quinn and Louis Gutierrez have made the consequences all to obvious. These people aren’t paid combat pay to be controversial – they’re just supposed to keep the IT structure effective for our benefit. If we want them to do more than just do what they’re told by vendors, we owe it to them to back them up.

–jeremy

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