Open Formats

  • A couple of weeks ago I was invited at the first National Open Government Partnership Forum in Skopje, Macedonia, for the panel titled “OGP-related Initiatives at the Local Level - Comparative Perspectives”. Here’s a short trip report, complete of link to my slides. The Forum included a good summary of the OGP/Open Data landscape, from which I’d like to quote, in no particular order (*) some remarks and statements I’ve found more interesting for me and (as far as I can tell, of course!
  • The title says it all. The Document Freedom Day “celebrates the importance of Open Standards for all electronic documents, whether public or private”. And these are the reasons why all Catholics, and all Christians in general, should promote this kind of event and take an active part in it: November 2005: Free Software’s surprising sympathy with Catholic doctrine April 2006: The Elèutheros Manifesto Aprile 2013: Catholics and the Openness Revolution Open
  • USA federal courts plan to destroy all records on judicial cases that did not go to trial that were filed between 1970 and 1995 and reduce the current retention time for other records from 25 to 15 years. The reason is saving money. Preserving those files cost over $6.2 million last year. The new plan “will help save $7.7 million over the next 10 years”. Of course, this is causing great concern among legal historians and advocates for public access to important information.
  • update 2011/08/02: please see comment by TIm O’Reilly at the end of the post Instructables is a web-based service created to “enable open-source hardware by [allowing] users to collaboratively design, document, build, and market their ideas”. Instructables was just acquired by Autodesk, the world leader in 3D design and engineering software. Autodesk believes that this move “will assist makers of all types by linking Instructables’ vibrant online community to Autodesk software tools and services”.
  • Last month Corriere della Sera, one of the major Italian newspapers, asked several novelists and other writers if and how the age of ebooks is changing fiction and the general approach to creation of literature. It was an interesting read, because it contained both pearls of wisdom and things that are either irrelevant or simply wrong, but all said by the same “gurus”. Italian writer Alberto Bevilacqua never imagined any of his books in electronic format, also because he can’t fathom “how its cover could be, or where I could write a dedication”.
  • This is an answer to this and other comments from “Anonymous” to my article Software is too important to leave it to programmers. Dear anonymous, let’s start from this: I work in a law office. I’m quite familiar with legal citations used throughout the country. In my first answer to you I said “governmentS”. Plural. The world is not the USA, it’s much bigger than that. I don’t write for USA only audiences and you should never assume that something is only about USA only because it happens to be in English.
  • On February 2nd, 2011, Italian publishing house Garamond left the Association of Italian Editors (AIE) and proposed to abandon the official Italian procedure for adoption of textbooks by schools because: every year Italian families with children in school spend 700 millions Euros (whereas other European countries spend from 25 to 80% less) to buy expensive, heavy textbooks that often are only half used and cannot be resold because every 2⁄3 years arrives an “updated edition” that becomes THE adopted textbook even if it isn’t really necessary
  • What you are about to read is a file that I recently recovered from an old folder I had forgotten. In and by itself, it contains nothing new, only things that I and others (often better than me) have already explained providing plenty of details. The main, if not only interest of the short rant below is the simple fact that almost everything I wrote really looks like as a still accurate and (as of early 2011) just written description of Information Technology inside and for Public Administration.
  • (this is the second part of the translation, with some links updated, of an article I wrote in June 2007 on this topic. The first part is here) Are computers limitable? The concept that you should use a tool only if you can “limit” it, that is if you can foresee and limit its potential damage by defining and regulating in advance how it can or should be used, creates more problems.
  • Tonight I wanted to watch on my computer, in streaming thanks to this wonderful worldwide Web that makes us all brothers and that all the Italian Political Parties who care about the future hail as an enabler of democracy and participation, an italian live show called the Bunga Bunga Dictator. Bunga Bunga is.. er, I’ll leave the definition to the Urban Dictionary. The dictator is Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is… er, you’ve probably heard of him already and if you haven’t, ask the Guardian.