[Fwd: Fw: SLD Policy Feedback]

Lord [INSERT NAME HERE] lordylordy at mad.scientist.com
Fri Dec 1 18:50:03 UTC 2000

I recieved the following reply from the Scottish Liberal Democrat party
after I made some comments on Free software via their website's policy
suggestions box. My original comment is quoted near the bottom (I should
point out that the Free software bit was only one of a number of issues
I was commenting on, or I would have written in more detail).

I made the comments a little while ago, before the FSFE was formed. And
yes, I know that Free Software and Open Source are different, and I
consider the difference important- I made the decision that explaining
the difference would just get me bogged down in side issues.

I think the reply is interesting, as it is probably a good indicator of
the response we'll get from other political parties. I thought it might
be a good idea to consult with you guys before I respond.

Oh, and for those who don't know, the Liberal Democrats are currently
the junior partner in the ruling coalitions int the devolved Scots and
Welsh parliaments, as well as being the UK's 3rd party.

Martin Tod wrote:
> Hi Alistair,
> I've just received this via the Scottish webteam.
> I don't think the party has a policy on open standards, but as Chair of Liberal Democrats Online, I do encourage people (and the
> party) to have and use open standards for the public face of everything they do, i.e. the Government (or LibDem run councils or
> libraries or schools) shouldn't be using closed standards publicly that force the public into adopting closed standards themselves.
> That's a position I intend to push towards being party policy.
> As an attempt to live up to this, the Liberal Democrats Online website is fully consistent with HTML 4 Transitional, CSS 2.0, WAI
> etc.  I even received compliments on its use of stylesheets from the Mozilla team!
> Unfortunately, the national party site is not yet as standards compliant although progress is being made - the next generation
> should be.
> As to whether the Government should used closed standards internally - I'm less concerned to take a tough line on this since there
> aren't open systems that do everything that a government needs to do - and frankly I don't fully know the cost implications of
> putting this kind of changeover into place.
> I hope this helps,
> Martin Tod
> Chair, Liberal Democrats Online
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Anne Horner" <annehorner at cix.compulink.co.uk>
> To: <mtod at cix.compulink.co.uk>
> Cc: <annehorner at cix.compulink.co.uk>
> Sent: November 6, 2000 09:07
> Subject: Fw: SLD Policy Feedback
> > Martin - I received some policy feedback from the SLD site.  Could you
> > deal with this bit for me, please?  I've told him I'm forwarding it to
> > "Liberal Democrats Online because there is a lot of tech-savvy in that
> > organisation".
> >
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > The second is one that you probably haven't really considered- open source
> > software and open standards. Now, I could waffle on for hours about the
> > superiority of open-source/free software (free as in "freedom", not
> > "gratis"). I advise you to do your own research on why this should be
> > supported and used by government ( http://www.gnu.org , the home of the
> > free software movement, is a good place to start). The issue of open
> > standards is easier to explain concisely. I don't know how tech-savvy the
> > person reading this is, so please excuse me if I seem to be talking down
> > to you or being patronising at any point in this. In computing, standard
> > is a set of rules that allows computers or programs to communicate. For
> > example, all emails obey a particular standard, and this means that any
> > email reader can view them. There are two types of standards: open, and
> > proprietary. The email standard is a very good example of an open
> > standard: no-one owns it, and there are many technical docume!
> > nts online that describe how it works. As a result, anyone with a
> > reasonable amount of programming ability can make an email program. This
> > means that email programs are very cheap (often gratis) and widely
> > available. An example of a proprietary, or closed, standard, is the ".doc"
> > file standard used by Microsoft Word. As this is closed, only Microsoft
> > knows the standard. Now, I don't like Word all that much, but I have no
> > choice but to use it if I want to be able to share my documents withh
> > other people. Microsoft have me "locked in" by their proprietary standard,
> > and I have to keep buying the latest version of their software so that I
> > can still exchange documents with people. It is my firm opinion that
> > govenrment should promote open standards to avoid monopolies, and should
> > use open-source or free-as-in-freedom software wherever possible.

"Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale and from time to time still do."-
David McReynolds, Socialist Party USA presidential candidate

This has been an emergent property of the System. Goodnight.

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