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Subject: Re: [egov-ms] Groups - OPEN STANDARDS

Hello all,

what I am about to express is of course my own opinion and not the one
of this steering committee. I am in *strong favor* of open standards
and although John is expressing a reality he and other experts have
experienced on the field, the standards field is changing extremely
fast. In the end I do believe that free and open standards as defined
by the EIF 1.0 and by the Digital Standards Group, among others, but
developed and set by no one else than the OASIS Consortium itself (ODF,
XLIFF anyone?) will be, the norm in the future, and the pun is

Standards, as John has written, can be very political and contentious.
In fact, standards are instruments of national sovereignty and
corporate influence. If we are aware of that then we can come
progressively to the conclusion that if we want quality standards,
standards that are used by everyone (and not imposed by a handful to
all) to the advancements of I.T., we need them free and open,
inclusive, participatory and transparent in order to frame the
"standards game" and have competing stakeholders (corporations,
governments, etc.) play by acceptable rules and rules that end up
valuing quality, openness and absence of lock-in. 

Of course, the devil hides in the details, as usual.


Le Tue, 15 Dec 2009 06:57:46 -0800,
John Borras <John@pensive.eu> a écrit :

> Tony
> Thanks for the compliment and I hope the FLOSS material can be of use
> to you. 
> As you know the remit of the eGOV Member Section is very much around
> "Promoting Open Standards for Citizen-Centric Government"; however as
> you will also appreciate there is an ever-ongoing debate about what
> Open means.  You only have to follow the continuing discussion around
> the European Interoperability Framework and the definition in that to
> realise that it is likely there will never be total agreement on
> this.  Sure in an ideal world all standards would be available free
> of charge and without any royalty charges etc.  But IMO that is never
> likely to happen, and in my experience, after nearly 40 years in UK
> Government, Governments will not hold out for that.  In fact
> governments do enlist SSOs to create standards for them knowing that
> there will be a charge for them. That of course makes life difficult
> for vendors, particularly SMEs, who have to buy and implement these
> standards to comply with government procurement requests.  
> I'm not sure what we in the Member Section can do to change this
> situation.  We could come up with our own definition of Open and
> produce guidance on how that definition should be applied, but how
> many governments would change their current practices in the light of
> that.  Clearly if there's a choice between an open standard that is
> free and one that is going to cost you then we could advocate the
> former, assuming all other aspects of the standards process were
> equal, eg open process, public review, etc.
> These are of course my personal opinions and not those of the MS
> Steering Committee.  It would be good to hear from other members on
> this point and maybe through that discussion we can identify
> something practical the MS can do.
> Thanks for raising the issue.  It's good to have this sort of debate
> within  the MS.
> Regards
> John
> ________________________________________
> From: Tony Rutkowski [trutkowski@netmagic.com]
> Sent: 15 December 2009 12:38
> To: John Borras
> Cc: egov-ms@lists.oasis-open.org
> Subject: Re: [egov-ms] Groups - FLOSS Webinar slides (FLOSS
> Webinar.pdf) uploaded
> Dear John
> > The slides used by Charles Schulz and John Borras in their recent
> > webinar on FLOSS (Free, Libre and Open Source Software).
> >
> > View Document Details:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/document.php?document_id=35591
> >
> > Download Document:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/35591/FLOSS%20Webinar.pdf
> >
> This is great material.  Has the egov effort also considered
> focussing on open standards?  There are still many governments
> that make reference to (or even specify) standards that are not
> publicly available.  The situation is particularly acute in the U.S.
> As we know, most standards bodies over the past two decades
> have shifted to publicly available standards where developers
> developers can "click and download" any version.
> Unfortunately, by the way, one of the model documents you
> cite in your slides in this presentation is ironically not publicly
> available.  ISO/IEC 26300:2006 costs CHF 325 to view!
> Governments need to demonstrate leadership here.  Citing
> standards that cost hundreds of dollars to view is not a good
> policy direction as such standards are simply unlikely to be
> used in today's IT world.  Government by emphatically refusing
> to cite such standards (and certainly not using them) would
> quickly change the practices of the shrinking number of
> troglodyte standards bodies still engaging in these practices.
> --tony

Charles-H. Schulz,
Associé / Associate
Ars Aperta.

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