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<nettime> More on: [European Commission publishes its guide to OSS migra
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 26 Oct 2003 11:43:50 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> More on: [European Commission publishes its guide to OSS migration]

Further comments by Benjamin Mako Hill fwed with permission...
(from the SummerSource list)

From: "Benj. Mako Hill" <mako {AT} bork.hampshire.edu>
To: Summer Source List <summersource-l {AT} tacticaltech.org>
Subject: Re: [SummerSource-L] [Fwd: European Commission publishes its
guide to OSS migration]
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 19:11:42 -0700

[Feel free to quote me or forward this message off of this list.]
(et idem...)

It's an interesting read and I generally like TheReg very much and
have read Lettice's articles many times in the past.

In an indirect way, the article is very critical of Free software
advocates and I certainly have no problem with this. However, I see
the conflation of the Free Software/Open Source advocacy from
advocates like myself and from the marketing-types at IBM and Lindows
as a little unfair. As far as the marketing folks go, highlighting
benefits and downplaying problems is what they have *always* done and
if people choose to be less critical in regards to FOSS because they
like it or hate Windows, it seems unfair to blame the movement.

Non-marketing type advocates, outside of the USENET, high school LUG
and Slashdot forums crowds, are, IMHO, quite reasonable. They will
give you a philosophical reason for why open document formats are
essential as a reason to get you away from Word -- arguments that you
may or may not buy into -- but they won't tell you that OpenOffice.org
can run every Excel macro and they won't tell you that you can run
Your AOL on GNU/Linux until you can.

I haven't read the report but if it's really just a transition guide,
it sounds less like advocacy and more like documentation. The Windows
Compatibility HOWTO (pick one really) isn't going to tell you that you
can write to NTFS when you can't. These docs spell out the details of
what works, what doesn't and and what you'll need to do to make things

Often these guides will be written by advocates and often the
political or philosophical motivations are described. But *no*
worthwhile technical document begins without a listing of limitations.

While the existence of documents like this set of guidelines is
essential, it's also not new (although this one may be the first to do
what it's trying to do this well and I'm looking forward to bringing
it clients in the future), lets not slight advocates for not writing
documentation just like we wouldn't condemn documentation writers for
listing limitations because that might weaken an advocacy argument.


Benjamin Mako Hill
mako {AT} bork.hampshire.edu

Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so
far as society is free to use the results. --RMS

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