Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A sad day for open standards

Let me admit it--I am saddened to see that OOXML now has the ISO stamp. The open source and free software communities are motivated by the dream of building an inclusive information society. Open standards--which can be freely implemented by anyone on a royalty-free basis and are created through consensus--are the foundation of this dream.

Therefore the Open Source Foundation of India feels that OOXML is an April Fool's Day joke played on the whole world and is a very sad outcome for open standards. The manner in which Microsoft has pushed OOXML through the ISO has breached all norms of standards creation. The voting results show that emerging economies like China, India, South Africa have voted against OOXML. Due to the manner in which one organization has hijacked the standards institution, we need to ask ourselves, "Can we trust these organizations with the critical standards that India depends upon?"

China's reaction has been to create standards of its own and it is reported that they have plans of creating 10,000 of their own standards. To protect our country's interests, we will have to ask organizations like ISO to follow transparent and ethical standards creation processes. Alternately, emerging economies will have to come together to create standards institutions that cannot be hijacked by monopolistic organizations.

Those who want to know the value of open standards just have to look at the amount of innovation that has happened on the Internet and compare it to the desktop world where competition has been systematically killed off to protect monopolies. Vendor driven standards like OOXML are not open standards and the Software Freedom Law Center has cautioned open source and free software developers from implementing OOXML due to legal risks. Since open source is the most viable alternative to expensive proprietary software, the global open source community is extremely unhappy with this development.

6 comments:

sankarshan said...

It is a sad day. But what I'd like to take away from this day is the need to have much more deeper "citizen action". More focus on raising awareness at levels we haven't touched and folks we haven't met. There are more standards that are poised to slip in. Let OOXML be a beacon for us as to how democracy allows processes to be subverted and how one can and should forge our battles with the will of the people. We lost a battle. We want to win the war. For us, and for those who come after us. Nothing less would be expected from us, and nothing less would be accepted.

Venky said...

I agree. We need to take open source and open standards to the people and make them more aware of its benefits. In this context, I admire the work that Arun and team in Kerala are doing and Kiran and team in Hyderabad are doing in taking FSF's message to people.

Pramode said...

Yes - "citizen action" is indeed the need of the hour.

Check out:

what Hiran has done


http://pramode.net
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പ്രവീണ്‍|Praveen aka j4v4m4n said...

We are planning candle light vigil in Bangalore on 15th.

More on the campaign...

Dr. Preeti Sharma said...

You write with passion on topics that are close to your heart.

Perfumes said...
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