Lowell Deeds

The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell

March 3, 2006

Welcome Aboard

by @ 11:39 am. Filed under Technology

Last year Massachusetts began paving the way for the elimination of the use of proprietary software by government agencies. The problem is simple…government documents are “public records”. They need to be fully accessible “to all” today and a hundred years from now. Currently 90% of the world (including Massachusetts) uses Microsoft Office for document creation and storage. I know it is easy to forget, but “Windows” is a proprietary software…if it were to become obsolete hundreds of thousand of government records would be inaccessible. Here’s a good example that’s close to home…in the registry’s basement are racks of twelve inch computer reels designed to run on a (get this) Xerox Computer (stop laughing). The hardware is broken, the software is gone and nobody would have any idea how to use it anyway… in other words…the reels are unreadable. Fortunately, the information on these reels was transferred to another proprietary system (Wang) then later transferred to still another proprietary system (ACS/ Windows). Can government free itself from these closed systems? Yes, “Open Source” software is the answer. “Open Source” software is non-proprietary which makes it accessible and readable by most other software. This is what Massachusetts has been pursuing…And finally an effort outside of Massachusetts is organizing. A group called the OpenDocument Format Alliance is being formed on a national level (welcome aboard!). The group’s goal is to promote the adoption of open technology standards in government. The Alliance is made up of 30 companies, trade groups, universities, professional organizations and groups and (of course) rivals of Microsoft. According to Patrice McDermott, a member of the new Alliance, the “goal is to ensure that the largest number of people possible are able to find, retrieve and meaningfully use government information”. The state of Massachusetts has adopted a policy establishing the use of “Open Source” for the creation of government documents. This policy will be mandatory in the next few years. Firefox, Mozilla Suite, Thunderbird, Bugilla, Camino, WordPress… these are just a few of the “Open Source” softwares that are now taking center stage…”Open Source” is here and it’s here to stay…just ask the OpenDocument Format Alliance…

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