Yesterday I emailed my New York State Assemblymember, Michael Gianaris, to suggest that the State of New York adopt open formats like ODF for state business. It’s easy to find your representatives by searching online; many states have pages like New York’s, that let you find them by your zip code and maps.
Below is pasted a copy of my message. Feel free to copy and/or modify it for your own use. You can send it not only to state representatives and senators, but to your county, city or town level elected officials too. (A city the size of New York has many more people than most states, so it is well worth communicating with cities about ODF, too.)
Dear Assemblymember Gianaris,
An issue that has started to get a lot of attention in other states is the data formats used for long term archiving of important digital information. Some formats in common use today are proprietary formulas that can only be accessed by a limited number of software tools made by monopoly suppliers.
So far, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, California and Oregon have begun looking at better alternatives to this situation. Using an open document format (the premier option is called “ODF” or “OpenDocument Format”) can allow the government to create and store data in a way that is broadly accessible to users of many different programs, including free-of-cost options.
It would be beneficial to New York State residents if we also made a similar policy. Not only would data be stored in a better archive format, but it would be more accessible. Instead of needing Microsoft Office to open a “.doc” file, citizens could use one of many options, including OpenOffice.org, KOffice, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, TextMaker, or many more to open a file saved as “ODF.”
For more information on other states concerned about this issue, please take a look at this summary article:
Thanks for your time and attention,