Local Progress – Open Formats in Minnesota

March 22, 2007

Why Scandinavian, German and Irish settlers settled on Minnesota centuries back is beyond me. If I were looking to set up shop in the Brave New World (irony intended – hey, this term may stick for me describing the US) and came upon a region and climate just like home, I’d take a left turn and head a little closer to the equator.

Regardless, it’s not surprising that we still display many of our Northern European roots. Not in technology like cell phones of course; since we’re in the U.S. we get the unused models of days long gone from other countries. But with progression in government and document formats at least. When it seems like U.S. tech news is just an endless stream of copyright violations, pandering to MPAA/RIAA whims, patent infringement and ISP log scanning – a small ray of local sunshine for me.

“The Minnesota Preservation of State Documents Act” was recently introduced and can be found here. It begins:

Effective July 1, 2008, all documents including text, spreadsheets, and presentations of the state of Minnesota shall be created, exchanged, maintained, and preserved in an open, XML-based file format, as specified by the chief information office of the state…

The bill was recently introduced by Rep. Paul Thissen, Melissa Hortman and Steve Simon. Here’s the current state of the bill. I’ve added a little mental task to offer assistance. I’ve already conversed with State IT workers who have had to deal with generating, storing and mailing form letters. Could you imagine the practical improvement with just generating the content.xml file, then zipping up the necessary consistent elements (styles, settings, manifest, images)?  Crazy.  Government agency document storage and automation groups should be jazzed about the ease and simplicity of ODF.

3 Responses to “Local Progress – Open Formats in Minnesota”

  1. possebaer Says:

    Well as far as I know a lot of the early emigrants from Germany Scandinavia and Ireland did not just emigrate because of economical reasons, but also because they were prosecuted because of their religion. So they probably loved the climate they had in Europe, but didn’t love the people who threatened them … And if everything they knew before was how to plant some certain crops, I guess it’s understandable that they searched for a place with a similar climate, so that they could continue with what they could do best, and feel at home at the same time.

    Well, I guess that sounds reasonable, but I must admit I didn’t lookup anything I based my theory on, so it could be totally wrong🙂.

  2. specs Says:

    Why do they all specify XML? What about PDF files?


  3. Hey Wade,

    Fellow Minnesotan here, and Gentoo user to boot. If you have contact in the state I should contact to offer assistance and/or support, please let me know. You have my email address.


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