GNOME, OOXML, and Half-Truths Colliding in the Night: Page 3

Posted December 18, 2007
By

Bruce Byfield

Bruce Byfield


(Page 3 of 3)

Finding solutions

Can anything except the lapse of time end this debate? Not easily. But a starting point might be a recognition on both sides that, in the absence of solid evidence, the other is more misguided than evil or paranoid. Those denouncing the GNOME Foundation need to resist the temptation to diagram conspiracy theories, while the GNOME Foundation needs to act in a more open and responsive manner, instead of like a corporate board of directors putting down a stockholder's revolt.

If both sides can relax slightly, then the possibility of a solution can emerge. It seems too much to expect for the GNOME Foundation to stop its involvement with the OOXML standard, but perhaps the two sides together could find ways to temper that involvement.

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For instance, Instead of sponsoring Goldberg's work on the standard directly, perhaps the Foundation could create an organization specifically for that purpose -- one with an innocuous name such as the Committee for the Publication of Open Standards, that would be useless to Microsoft as PR.

Similarly, the Foundation could also become more involved with the continued development of ODF, and promote its refinement in GNOME related applications like AbiWord and Gnumeric.

For their part, those who oppose the Foundation -- not without reason -- need to show their commitment to the greater community, rather than to the gut-level thrill of the attack. The time for opposition is over, and the search for solutions needs to begin. To his credit, Russell Ossendryver of Worldlabel.com, whose blog first brought the issue to the community's attention has already made such an offer, expressing his willingness to sponsor Goldberg's work on the grounds that the support of his company has less publicity value for Microsoft than GNOME's. Were people like Pamela Jones of Groklaw or Alberto Barrionuevo of Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure to take similar steps towards cooperation, the issue might soon be solved.

I know, I know. To suggest that the GNOME Foundation become more responsive to the community or that its accusers become more responsible assumes an impossible nobility of spirit all around. Most likely, it can only result in the trenches on both sides launching missiles my way as I sit in a foxhole in No Man's Land. But you'll excuse me if I stay put anyway. Where I'm sitting may be vulnerable to both sides, but it also feels considerably saner.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Microsoft, Gnome, Novell


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