Good news from Massachusetts

Those of you who have been following the saga in Massachusetts around the OpenDocument Format know that one of the very odd things that happened last year was that an amendment was put on an economic stimulus bill to largely strip the CIO in the executive branch of his or her decision making ability. This was after then-CIO Peter Quinn put in place a new policy to require the use of ODF. There was also, of course, the front page story in the Boston Globe questioning some of Quinn’s travel. Several weeks after that, the story was completely dismissed as being without merit – on page 7.

Skeptics might see this as a case of “don’t make make IT decisions that disadvantage particular vendors or they will lobby hard and long to take away your ability to do your job.” I couldn’t possibly comment.

In any case, I’m pleased to report that the economic stimulus bill that was passed yesterday did not have this amendment in it.

I applaud the Massachusetts state legislature for this move. It’s provided a great case study to all the other governments around the world of what happens when politics and IT collide. The education that this will provide around the tactics employed by those who oppose open standards will significantly and positively advance the case for true openness.


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2 Responses to Good news from Massachusetts

  1. Terrell Prude' Jr. says:

    Hello Mr. Sutor,

    I remember OS/2 back from my early 1990’s internship days at IBM San Jose, and I remember how ticked off I was at IBM for their total mishandling of that fine platform. It’s good to see IBM “back in the saddle” with pushing technology–open technology–like it did with the original IBM PC. The reason there are so many x86-based personal computers today is that anyone could follow the “IBM-compatible” spec and build not just an interoperable box, but also peripherals to work with it. There’s an example of open standards at work!

    I agree with you regarding the OpenDocument formats; this is one time in which I hope your company strongly uses its lobbying ability to help this succeed, because the proliferation of truly open standards will continue to push technology even further than it is now. Microsoft will cave on ODF compatibility only when enough governments start demanding ODF compliance. Massachusetts is but the first step on this path.

    I’ve been following the Massachusetts ODF process closely, and it’s good to see that IBM is on the right side here.

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