CyberTech Rambler

April 23, 2007

James Governor has a point, but so does Rob Weir

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:02 pm

James Governor disagree with Rob Weir over the issues of long term archiving potential of ODF and OpenXML. He has a point there, but so does Rob Weir.

Its true that as long as you have all the bits that constitute your document, you can theoretically retrieve all information in it, even if it is a very difficult task in practice without the document creator’s help. True, it is possible to reverse engineer the format. As Governor points out, Google did it, so did Its difficult and fill with legal landmine that would not be there with a free and open format. Can any single company use legal instruments such as IP laws to stop governments from viewing documents in the future? No. Government has the right to take this legal instruments away. Don’t believe me? see what happen to AIDS drugs in developing country. Moreover, the backslash generated by such a move will probably bury any company who dares. However, as in AIDS drug, the most likely outcome is government or private company has to pay a small sum to the document creator to view the document. Some call this a tax and believe this is unacceptable.

This is precisely Rob Weir’s rub. Should you commit yourself to perpetually paying a third party to view your document? If it is on paper, you don’t. If we buy the argument that saving your document in their format means that the document creator co-own your document, than we must accept that we have to pay the company that produce the ink or the company that produce the paper you write your notes every time you read your note as they co-own your paper document. This will be absurd.

ODF had already brought us one success: Open XML is going through the standardization process because of it. Will it bring more benefits? I think so. It might introduce competition back to the document market. That can be only good for consumers.



  1. competition can only be good for consumers. indeed. i think/hope that was partly my point. i tried to be pragmatic and look at what customers will actually *do*, and have a view accordingly. i mean i can’t imagine that 100% of enterprises will adopt ODF. that seems unrealistic to me. i like your perpetual payment point. its one of the issues i am trying to parse.

    Comment by James Governor — April 23, 2007 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Governor,

    Practially, I agree we cannot see 100% ODF adoption in enterprise. Realistically we will be lucky to see 20-30% ODF in the next five years. This is of course in itself an alternative to 100% MS format (including but not limitted to OpenXML). Breaking the 10% barrier will be in itself a worthwhile news item to note.

    The most important thing I want to see in ODF’s penetration is to break the office document format monopoly. My yardstick is the day where sending both ODF and OpenXML via email is the norm. I may even accept that the fact that people take notice and use ODF occasionally as mission accomplished. May be a 10% market share will do it. Five years ago web designer are arrogant enough display a message on their site to say “IE only”. Doing so today is by-and-large OK, but is becoming more risky because of the emergence of Firefox.

    Since you are trying to parse the perpectual tax argument. I think you should factor in this one argument against the possibility of perpectual tax. The most lethal instrument document format creator hold, i.e., patents, is defanged as they expires after approximately 25 years, barring Congress or Parliament deciding to extend it. When this happens, given we already have the source code that can open these files, e.g., from and others, we are not actually “locked” as far as in the time frame the word “archiving” is normally defined.

    Comment by ctrambler — April 23, 2007 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  3. […] James Governor has a point, but so does Rob Weir « CyberTech Rambler “ODF had already brought us one success: Open XML is going through the standardization process because of it. Will it bring more benefits? I think so. It might introduce competition back to the document market. That can be only good for consumers.” (tags: ODF OpenXML) […]

    Pingback by James Governor’s Monkchips » links for 2007-04-23 — April 23, 2007 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  4. […] says CyberTech Rambler.  In the Third World, that may be likely.  In the US, our government is too beholden to […]

    Pingback by Arguing About Archiving « Opportunity Knocks — April 24, 2007 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  5. […] vs ODF Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:59 am Wow, did not expect so much pingbacks/comments on my previous post. For a nobody like me, its like Alice in […]

    Pingback by More on OpenXML vs ODF « CyberTech Rambler — April 25, 2007 @ 11:59 am | Reply

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