Yesterday I asked whether the archiving argument for ODF against OpenXML stacked up. One comment came from Sam Hiser, who came back with:
“It’s utter naivete. You’d amend your view if you understood how the MOOXML format operates throughout the stack.”
Being naive, I wish we could have a mature conversation about the pros and cons of document formats. I dont like dirty politics and associated swiftboating in any field- and tech is no exception. Digging through trash and talking it. That’s my biggest concern about the way this argument is playing out: going negative may win elections but it doesn’t help the body politic in the long run. Would you like to be in George Bush’s place right now? Black helicopters circle.
I would counsel both sides to be cautious about the behind the scenes, and front of house, brawling and finger-pointing. Customers in many sectors don’t seem to care about the same things the industry appears to right now, and that’s a bad thing. Public sector requirements and politics are framing the conversation for everyone, which is hardly Cluetrain. The public sector 0wnz the document format discussion. But as Hugh points out in his seminal Porous Mebrane: Why Blogging Works post:
The things that A is passionate about, B should also be passionate about. This we call “alignment”. A good example would be Apple. The people at Apple think the iPod is cool, and so do their customers. They are aligned.
Best comment yesterday came from Clive, who is on the customer side of the equation:
James – knowing you are not exactly a Microsoft apologist, your post made me actually reevaluate which camp i was rooting for. I was finding it so easy to get caught up in the whose side is winning when I realized, wait, we all could actually lose if it’s just one format. That solves nothing, plus ODF sort of sucks when you strip it down despite how emotionally i wanted MSFT to take one. Hats off for helping me at least question myself and get back to my day job which has always been “what problem are we trying to solve”. My boss the CIO isnt going to ask me which friggin format i implemented, but does it work, who supports it and does it WORK WITH WHAT WE HAVE.
By not arguing solely for either side of ODF vs OpenXML am I really the enemy of both? Seems a shame. I do know one thing – I will be covering both standards for the next few years, because customers will be using them. I am an industry analyst – pragmatism is a big part of the job, even if openness is a personal prejudice. I hope I don’t lose any friends by calling for a middle ground…
disclosures: IBM and Microsoft are both clients.