[SASAG] Proprietary formats on public mailing lists

Justin Clayton justin at claytons.net
Mon Sep 3 13:51:22 PDT 2007


As someone who was getting *extremely* agitated that this flamewar was  
themist volume this list has seen in a while, you have made a  
compelling set of observations that has quelled my anger. Thanks.

Justin Clayton
justin at claytons.net

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 3, 2007, at 1:22 AM, Jeff Silverman <jeffsilverm at gmail.com>  

> People,
> It is always interesting to read a flamefest from SASAG members.  We  
> are
> a very intelligent group and the arguments represent a fascinating
> insight as to how computing should be done.
> I am as rabidly anti-Microsoft as they come.  However, the world as we
> know it has embraced Microsoft, for better or worse.  This is not  
> going
> to change for the foreseeable future.  Nevertheless, I think we should
> continue to stick to our views, even though they are divergent.  My
> thinking is as follows:
> In our complicated, technologically sophisticated society, we hire
> experts to help us with tasks that are too complicated or arcane to do
> ourselves.  When we are sick, we see a doctor; when our car breaks  
> down,
> we see a mechanic; when we need our taxes done, we see an accountant.
> It is fitting and proper that when people have computer problems, they
> should seek.... us.
> Now, just as physicians disagree about the best way to handle certain
> diseases, sysadmins disagree about the best way to solve computing
> problems.  Note that 'best' is itself an ambiguous term.  A certain  
> cure
> might be 90% effective but have a 1% mortality rate, while another  
> cure
> might be 70% effective but have a 0% mortality rate.  Which is "best"?
> You don't know.  You have to explain this to the patient and let him  
> or
> her decide.
> There are many issues which have been brought up in this discussion,
> including reliability, safety, avoiding vendor lock-in, convenience,
> acquisition costs and life cycle costs.  Before we can undertake a
> project, we have to explain to the customer what the options are and
> what the relative risks are and then let them decide.   My observation
> is that most customers could not care less about vendor lock-in.  Most
> customers don't care about Digital Responsibilities Management (DRM) -
> at least, not yet (as Vista becomes more ubiquitous, this might
> change).  Most customers already have MS-Windows machines, so they  
> want
> software that runs on Windows.  They want Windows because the software
> they want runs on windows.  That's what they care about.  That windows
> is buggy, unreliable (by design), and insecure means nothing to them.
> Even after they have been hit by a virus which has wiped out their  
> data
> or exposed their bank accounts, they still want Windows.  To most
> people, a computer is something that runs Windows.  Sad but true.
> Now, what we can do is make options available to them.  They don't  
> have
> to use windows.  Linux is an option, as is HP-UX, Solaris, and AIX.
> Macintosh is an option, and the Mac has its own rabid fans.  As one
> poster pointed out, they don't need something that looks like a  
> computer
> at all - they can use google and other net based software services
> through a browser.  In order to support these options and make them
> viable, we ought to discourage people from using proprietary formats.
> We should be prepared to fail in this regard.
> In order to make options available, we should - no, we must - agree to
> disagree.  It is very difficult to be proficient in more than one
> software ecosystem, so we have become sub specialists.  We must be  
> able
> to do the things that need to be done in the ecosystem we are most
> familiar with.  The debate will continue at many levels - this is the
> way it should be, IMHO.
> Somebody suggested that we contact Microsoft and suggest that they
> include native support for ODT, which would be simpler than getting  
> the
> world to embrace a new format.  This sounds like a wonderful idea -  
> how
> do we do that?
> Sincerely yours,
> Jeff Silverman
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