Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Don't let your data be highjacked

I see this sort of request very regularly. (names of file formats and program have been changed to protect the innocent)
Does anyone know of a FOSS program that can at least read and display the [file format name] files used by [proprietary software product name]? Even better would be the ability to convert them to commonly used graphics formats (JPEG &c). I'm hoping that [proprietary software developer name]? didn't make it illegal &/or impossible to do anything with the file format without using their proprietary products. . . .

This could easily related to any number of proprietary products that make use of closed or proprietary data formats. This means that the only way that your work can be used is by having that particular product. There are huge issues for this in education where teacher and student data needs to be free, open, portable and accessible.

The 16th Sept was Software Freedom Day. This is an important day and most worthy of celebrating. Perhaps of greater importance than the actual software is my data, my work. Having my data, my work, in a form that is not bound up in a proprietary data format is of greater importance.

I should be able to pick and choose what software tool I use to manipulate my data at any stage during its development and use. Developers that fail to fully implement open data formats or fail to actively work with the other players on developing an open data format are simply trying to feather their nests, lock in users and demonstrate a complete lack of respect for 'my work'.

In the interests of 'Free and Open Education', don't let teacher and student data be highjacked by closed data formats.

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