Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Open Document Formats Bill (HB1794) is Good for the Local Economy

Chip Rosenthal has been doing a good job getting the word out about the Open Document Formats Bill (HB1794).

Complaining about apathy and ignorance about politics is second nature, but it is obvious that things are changing and this would be a catalyst for a new renaissance of participation.

Open document formats is also a smart business decision. Locking our government into proprietary formats often means that Texas tax money will not be going to Texas businesses.

According to Intellectual Property Watch...
Since free software allows local businesses to adapt software to local needs, and does not require the payment of royalties to the original author, it allows local businesses to provide “deep support” which is of higher value than the “shallow support” provided for proprietary software. When problems arise with proprietary software they can only be fixed by the proprietor, limiting the role of local small businesses. With free software on the other hand, a local business is limited only by its skill levels, not by access to the code or the right to change it. Not only can much more value be generated locally, it can also lead to wider recognition for local innovators since improvements can be fed back to the global market.
I can't think of any reasons why not to do this.


You can't think of any reason why we wouldn't do this?

How about the $55 million fiscal note?
In principle I'm for anything that busts the near-monopoly of certain software companies, but there's something about this proposal which makes me a bit nervous.

If I want to provide the best service to my users, I think about the total end-to-end user experience, which may include a lot of unpleasant but necessary tradeoffs -- like sometimes going with formats or software choices which are less than ideal but which have a large established user base.

If I'm running a state agency (or a business or a non-profit or my personal blog) and I want to hand a user a document, I want the user to be able to get into the document *now*, not at the end of a research project -- particularly not if I have a responsibility to serve less tech-savvy users.

Is there something I'm not understanding which would prevent this idea from turning into a usability nightmare?
To anonymous: talking about cost before merit can only produce rough fiscal models.

To Prentiss: i'm probably saying something you already know, but you can hand that user a document in whatever format, just as long as the application suite you are using can export it to an open format with the standard schema.
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