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.