TITLE: Open File Formats Only, Please AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 29, 2005 2:12 PM DESC: Battling the standardization on Microsoft Office in the university bureaucracy... ----- BODY: After being informed repeatedly that I will need either a Windows box or Office for the Mac in order to be a department head, due to the sheer volume of Word and Excel documents that flow through the university hierarchy, I found hope this piece of news. If Norway can do it, why not the State of Iowa or my university? I once read a letter to the editor of our local paper calling for the state to adopt an open-formats-only policy, as a matter of fairness to competing businesses and to citizens. Alas, the benefits of standardization far outweigh the long-term economic effects for most people. Philosophical issues rarely enter the discussion at all. I suspect that it's easier for this sort of edict to originate at the top of a heap, because then groups lower in the hierarchy face a consideration that trumps standardization. In any case, I think that I will get by just fine, at least for now. I could use OpenOffice, if I feel like running X-windows. But my preferred tool these days is NeoOffice/J, which is getting more solid with every release. (It's finally out of beta.) While it's not a native OS X app -- it looks and feels like a Windows port -- it does all I need right now for handling files in Office formats. I have spent many, many years of gently encouraging department heads not to send me Word files, offering alternatives that were as effortless as possible. I'm not sure if I'm ready to take on higher levels of university administration. But I do feel some obligation to lead by teaching on the issue of open standards in computing. -----