Today is Document Freedom Day. If you’re not one of the open source faithful, or even if you are, you might not be familiar with this digital independence day. According to the web site at http://documentfreedom.org, “Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.”
The site does a thorough job of explaining the meaning and importance of this, but I will offer a brief summary here.
Many, if not most, people use proprietary software from companies like Microsoft and Adobe to create, edit, and manage their documents. Microsoft Office applications, Adobe Photoshop, and many others, create letters, spreadsheets and photos which are saved in a secret format known only to the company that created it. That’s great for the company that wants to control your access to your own data, determine how (and if) you can share it with others, and force you to upgrade if you want to keep support for your documents. Not so great for you, the creator/owner/manager of all these documents.
Another important issue is the preservation of documents in the digital era. There are documents from millennia gone by preserved on paper, scrolls, clay pots, even stone. The earliest known cave paintings are accessible to all who can see them. Who will read your Microsoft Word ’97 novel even five years from now?
I urge you to visit http://documentfreedom.org to learn more about the importance of document liberation. Start by freeing your own documents, then shine the light of freedom to light the way for others. Namaste.