Thursday, November 03, 2005

Take It To The People

If you are keeping up with the Massachusetts decision to require OpenDoc, you possibly know that a bill has been filed to require any such technical standard to be approved by a four member panel appointed by the Commonwealth Senate to contravene this decision. The politics of special interests over the interests of the people of the Commonwealth are clear.

The decision to adopt OpenDoc was based on thorough research into open formats by people who are experts in this field: The State IT staff.

I am extremely impressed that IT professionals are stepping up to the challenge. The profound possibilities and dangers of the World Wide Web aren't fully understood, and because they evolve with the technology, we will never have such assured understanding. IT professionals get this. Others only see business potential and as a result, the Web continues to be fielded witlessly by some, greedily by others, wisely by a few.

The best minds I know in the business all agree that regardless of what transpires in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the future for large interoperable and cross-referenced systems is open formats just as the past has been for HTML, SVG, X3D and the SGML application languages that preceded XML. Markup professionals for the most part understand why: cost control and preserving the rights of individual expression. This is not a trivial issue nor one that can be neglected by the States and even the Federal government.

To the Patriots in Massachusetts: take it to the people. Make sure the Senators who are sponsoring the bill in question are fully engaged by the press, both in the Commonwealth and world wide. Be there to answer and be there to explain to the people what they are losing when such bills become law.

And point to the Senators.

Power corrupts. The only cure is consequences. Take it to the people. One lesson learned on the Internet is that crowds are not always right, but they are often wise.

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