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Where the future lies: OpenOffice.org and the ODF in the world

The future lies with FOSS and open standards: we all know that. But who is "we"? And how secure is that future? No longer (was it ever?) a US-based strategy for software development, FOSS, especially on the desktop, is now seen by governments throughout the world as answering the needs of cost, efficiency, and public accessibility. It gives users what theywant without binding to a commodity model that limits their freedoms. Coupled with an open standard such as the OpenDocument Format (ODF), applications like OpenOffice.org or KOffice, which save their files in formats one can read using a variety of free or proprietary applications, should be a simple shoo-in, especially in light of the fact that OpenOffice.org is interoperable with Microsoft Office, among others. Yet time and again we have seen governments change their minds (if not always rhetoric) and opt for the same old story.

Where do such decisions place FOSS? What logic (political, marketing) should govern our responses now and for the future in here in Australia and elsewhere in the hemisphere?  And what does the patently political theatre we witness in the US as well as elsewhere say about FOSS as a strategy for *making* and distributing software?  This presentation seeks to address (not answer!) some of these questions. My focus is of course OpenOffice.org, which I have led for the last seven years. My interest here lies in discussing the contentious field in which FOSS plays and in learning the tactics of FOSS in in Australia and the rest of the world.

Louis Suarez-Potts

Louis Suárez-Potts is the longtime Community Manager and Chair of the Community Council for OpenOffice.org; he joined Sun Microsystems in 2007 and has led the OpenOffice.org community since 2000. The lead and co-lead of several projects and the primary spokesperson and representative of OpenOffice.org, Suárez-Potts also represents the project regarding OpenDocument format (ODF) matters, and is on the OASIS ODF Adoption Technical Committee and is a member of the ODF Alliance. He speaks frequently on the ODF, OpenOffice.org, education and open source, and community development throughout the world. Suárez-Potts is currently working on several articles regarding open source development and education. He lives in Toronto and received his PhD from U.C. Berkeley.