Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who is Next in Line for ODF?

Just for the hell of it, I will offer a guess (based on no inside information) ... the next government to consider making open standards and the OpenDocument Format official policy will be in ...


Maybe I am just overly influenced by Italy's victory in the World Cup, but I see a critical mass of support for open technologies slowly building in Italy over the past five years. A few notable facts:

1. 3 of the ODF Alliance's newest members since Google joined were from Italy.

2. Firefox share of the browser market in Italy is now over 20%, one of the highest in the world.

3. The Province of Genoa has made open source software a part of its ICT strategy.

4. Italy's Minister for Innovation and Technologies issued a ministerial order in October 2003 inviting public sector bodies to consider open source alternatives.

4. As far back as 2001, the Italian Government identified open source as a key enabler for building an Information Society in Italy.

OK, I am probably wrong about Italy.

But this I know: there will be a next government that endorses the use of ODF. I don't know where, but there will be another. And it will be really interesting if it happens in a region other than Europe. South Korea? Malaysia?

What do you think?

How Critical is Open Source?

If you ask the U.S. Department of Defense...

"OSS and open source development methodologies are important to the National Security and National Interest of the U.S."


Because, according to a new DoD report, open technologies ...
• Enhance agility of IT industries to more rapidly adapt and change to user needed capabilities.

• Strengthen the industrial base by not protecting industry from competition. Makes industry more likely to compete on ideas and execution versus product lock-in.

• Enable DoD to secure the infrastructure and increase security by understanding what is actually in the source code of software installed in DoD networks.

• Rapidly respond to adversary actions as well as rapid changes in the technology industrial base.
This is the open source imperative. And it applies with equal force to every government and company. Despite the continued protestations of proprietary vendors, if your business model fails to incorporate open technologies, eventually your business will be at a competitive disadvantage.

You might as well tie one hand behind your back and use the other hand to shoot yourself in the foot.

Competing without open source ...
creates an arbitrary scarcity of ... software code, which increases the development and maintenance costs of information technology ... Other negative consequences include lock-in to obsolete proprietary technologies, the inability to extend existing capabilities in months vs. years, and snarls of interoperability that stem from the opacity and stove-piping of information systems.
The shift to more open approaches--using open standards, services-oriented architectures, open source style collaboration and innovative partnerships--must not only touch the ICT level in an enterprise. It must impact your business, information and service levels as well, and link them together.

SOA is not enough. The integration of service-oriented business, information and service design is critical to enterprise transformation, and competing in today's rapidly shifting marketplace and ICT landscape.

Yesterday's approaches to R&D, distribution and intellectual property served well in an industrial era; they are poorly suited for today's networked, high-speed, on-demand world.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pearl Jam Faces an Inconvenient Truth

Over the past few years, we've seen quite a few musicians stand up on heavy political issues. Bono. REM. Springsteen. Credit Sir Bob Geldoff, author of the 1980s campaign to feed a starving Ethiopia.

Now Pearl Jam faces up to an Inconvenient Truth, something that precious few politicians (and few of us regular folks) dare do. Global warming is a crisis, and not tomorrow. It is here today, so says every serious scientist whose work has been peer reviewed.

Here's what the U.S. National Academy of Science says: "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely because of human activities, for the most part."

Enter Pearl Jam. The Seattle-based rockers have pledged $100,000 to offset the carbon emissions generated during their global tour.

Pearl Jam has a Carbon Portfolio Strategy.

Does your organization? Does your city? Do you?

But don't worry, what's one more year of record heat?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Google Joins ODF Alliance ... Is it Official?

Apparently, according to a story in Computerworld, Google joined the ODF Alliance on Saturday (4 days ago). The ODF Alliance quietly listed Google on its website as a member, with no press release or announcement, clearly by agreement with Google.

Google is saying even less. There is nothing on its website indicating its membership in the ODF Alliance. No press release, no announcement on its official blog. If you search Google News for "ODF Alliance" and Google, you get 0 search results.

This all begs the question ... why hasn't Google made any public statement about joining the ODF Alliance, which it apparently did 4 days ago?

Obviously this is news. Good news, though not completely unexpected given Google's acquisition of Writely, an online collaborative word processing program that supports ODF. If joining the ODF was news when the City of Bristol in the UK did (and it was), why has Google given this the silent treatment? Even when directly asked about it.

Well, a few explanations are possible ...

Maybe Google is waiting to jointly announce support for ODF by its new, online Google Spreadsheets?

Or, maybe Google has decided to make its announcement at an upcoming, high-profile event? [Though they must have known word would get out and they'd be behind the news]

Or maybe they don't want to treat joining another group as news? [But it is news, especially given the increasing importance of ODF and the major news its adoption by governments generated.]

So, Eric, Larry and Sergey ...
what's the story?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Open ICT and Inconvenient Truths

I just saw the movie "An Inconvenient Truth", and it got me to thinking about the intersection between my work on open technologies and global warming. Don't see the connection? Neither did I until tonight.

First of all, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Regardless of your politics -- better yet, suspend your politics -- and actively watch this film. If you walk out not convinced that we are in the midst of a global crisis, a REAL crisis, you are either deaf, dumb and blind, or you sadly fall into the category of people described by Upton Sinclair and quoted by Al Gore in the movie:

"It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

So, the connection between global warming and open technologies?

That same thought -- the difficulty in people seeing things differently when their jobs, up until that point, depended on the status quo -- applies to IT companies (and governments) and open technologies. Open source is an obvious example. Or Creative Commons as a new approach to copyright. Or software as a service (the expertise of other Jeff Kaplan). Or new ways of sharing music and photos (before Napster, now BitTorrent). It's the same quandery for Microsoft and the Opendocument Format.

Here's an inconvenient truth for the IT industry: successful business models will more and more integrate (even depend upon) greater, deeper collaboration with users, customers, non-staff content creators and even competitors (e.g., in context of creating open standards).

More and more, you have to collaborate to compete.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bristol Votes with its Feet on ODF (Again)

Last year, the City of Bristol in the UK switched from Microsoft Office to Sun's Star Office. In April, I blogged about the publication of the business case supporting Bristol's move, and the attention paid in it to the value proposition of using the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Today, Bristol announced a third move, officially joining the ODF Alliance.

So, although Bristol has deployed a version of Star Office that does not have native support for ODF (it was not a finalized format at the time), there is not doubt where they are heading when their next upgrade happens. The question now is: do other local governments in the UK intend to follow the path that Bristol (and Massachustetts, Belgium, Denmark, etc) has blazed?