Document Freedom Day - March 25th


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Mar 23, 2009 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

March 25th is Document Freedom Day. Like Software Freedom Day this is a grass-roots effort to educate people about the importance of open document formats and information freedom.

My friends at 4Linux, in Sao Paulo Brazil mentioned to me that they were having a "BotecoNet" to answer questions from the Internet about Document Freedom, and they requested a question to ask the panel of experts from the computer field which they had assembled. Here is the question I asked:

Imagine you found a copy of the Constitution of Brazil written in 1891, the most important document in Brazil, which abolished the monarchy and introduced separate state powers. Also imagine the writers of that Document had used a word processor with a closed, proprietary format, a format that was not completely open and documented clearly. Given your experience in the computer marketplace, knowing that computer companies fail, computer companies merge, computer companies "retire" their products and sometimes provide poor "migration" paths from one product to another, would you please estimate the probabilities that you would still be able to read that closed, proprietary format today?

We all have to ask this question of our most important documents. Deeds, marriage licenses, letters from our loved ones....

If you are using a format that is closed and not completely documented, I can only think of asking this question from the 1971 movie "Dirty Harry":

"You've got to ask yourself one question...'Do I feel lucky?'....."Well, do ya...?"'

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