Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reply to: Open XML Crunch Time

Rod Drury Blogged today on Office Open XML

My Answer to Rod on his blog:

Rod respectfully, I suspect that you have been talking to far too many people who have already hitched themselves to the Microsoft horse.

I work in Government and there is serious concern throughout government that this standard will perpetuate monopoly and achieve nothing else, except get around some mandating of standards in Government purchasing.

Microsoft has documented OOXML, great.
OOXML has different use-cases to ODF, great.
OOXML preserves legacy document formatting, great. Lets hope that Microsoft Office will actually display it correctly across versions, they often fail.

But why do we need to standardise something that is looking backwards not forwards. Standards are designed and discussed in order to serve the requirements of the future, and this standard wasn't designed to address the future and is badly designed for it. Why do we have to allow this standard that has massive holes in Internationalisation, Documentation, flexibility and implementability.

Ask your Microsoft friends to please throw out this insulting 'Promise not to sue' and actually give us a licence (irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, sublicencable). We don't even have the right to amend the documentation for the standard to fix the gaping holes.

The standard will go through even with my vote of "No, with comments", because Microsoft and the ISO working group will fix many of the issues and re-submit the standard, because this isn't about not having a standard, it is about having a good one.


Additionaly it is named (or perhaps misnamed) Office Open XML, which is bound to confuse, unpronouncable and misleading compared with OpenOffice.Org (ooo). The earlier name "MS Office Open XML", is much clearer and accurate.

Monday, August 20, 2007

OECD seems to favour Open Statistical Data

Don't you just read your own interests into everything you read on the web.

When browsing on the BarCamp Wellington Google Group, I saw referenced the OECD second OECD World Forum on Statistics.
Their Istanbul Declaration has a paragraph that resonates with the purpose of my goal of Open Government Data.

A culture of evidence-based decision making has to be promoted at all levels, to increase the welfare of societies. And in the “information age,” welfare depends in part on transparent and accountable public policy making. The availability of statistical indicators of economic, social, and environmental outcomes and their dissemination to citizens can contribute to promoting good governance and the improvement of democratic processes. It can strengthen citizens’ capacity to influence the goals of the societies they live in through debate and consensus building, and increase the accountability of public policies.

Information can be locked into silos in government deparments and limited to a privilideged few who know and pay for the data.

Alternatively Information can be provided free or at low cost, which allows it to be pushed, prodded, bent, analysed and re-mixed. Taking a thousand paths towards creating real value for the Citizen / Global Citizen.

Hans Rosling mentioned at Govis that the cost of gathering statistical data far outweighed the maximum amount the govornment could charge for it.

I personally am aware of the value of having Geo-data right to hand (inside my organisation) without having to write a business case, justification or otherwise to get it. The benefits to having Open Geo-Data in New Zealand far outweigh the costs of supplying the data free.

I note that we almost have free geo-data from Land Information New Zealand. I have been tempted to get a licence $270 per quarter to the LINZ data and see how cheaply I could on-sell/licence it. It would go well with an open source project to create transformational scripts, to load and integrate the standard LINZ data into Open Source GIS programs (And Google Earth too).

I am convinced of the value to the above to the New Zealand public. Maybe we can start to make it happen from BarCamp. I hear in the distance the loud sucking sound of my free time being vacumed up.

Bar Camp Wellington NZ E-Government


Saturday, 15th September 2007

This BarCamp is about making a difference to egovernment in New Zealand. We are a small country with a very well connected, vibrant web community. government 2.0 can happen here!

3 Queens Wharf (map) | mailing list

The rules of BarCamp (as listed by are:

  • 1st Rule: You do talk about Bar Camp.
  • 2nd Rule: You do blog about Bar Camp.
  • 3rd Rule: If you want to present, you must write your topic and name in a presentation slot.
  • 4th Rule: Only three word intros.
  • 5th Rule: As many presentations at a time as facilities allow for.
  • 6th Rule: No pre-scheduled presentations, no tourists.
  • 7th Rule: Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.
  • 8th Rule: If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present. (Ok, you don't really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Office Open XML

What can I add to the debate.

I have listened to Groklaw, Rob Weir, Andy Updegrove, Bob Sutor and others on the Internet for a while and I finally find myself asked for my position on the subject, or more accurately for my input into the NZ Governments opinion on the subject.

What additional point of view can I bring, which hitherto unexplored insight can I highlight in the debate that will make a difference.

I don't know, but I intend to find out, wish me luck.

To those who don't already know, I am talking about the proposal that Microsoft has made for the ECMA and ISO organisations to rubber stamp it's new xml data format as a standard.