Lodahl's blog: Yes Minister, we have a problem

01 February 2008

Yes Minister, we have a problem

From January 1th. 2008 all Danish authorities should be able to receive text files of in the formats ODF and Docx. One of the Danish internet based computer magazines decided to find out if the municipals could live up to the resolution from the Danish Parliament. (http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43939). The headline is 'Danish municipals flunk on open standards'.

The result is very disappointing, I must say.

First of all, the journalists send three e-mails to each municipal. One with an ODF file, one with a docx file and on e-mail with plain text. The first astonishing thing is, that quite many municipals never answered to any of the e-mails, not even the one with plain text.

Hey Minister, how can you expect the authorities to be able to receive attached files if they don't know how to open and answer a plain text e-mail ?

We have a problem here...

Now, how about the attached files ?
  • 31 municipals answered, that they are not able to read an odf file
  • 13 municipals answered, that they are not able to read a docx file
  • Several municipals answered, please send us the document as a doc-file.
The opposition parties says that this is a serious matter (http://www.computerworld.dk/art/44003). Headline: 'The Minister must see to this matter'

The Minister has been asked to (officially) answer to this in the Parliament (http://www.ft.dk/doc.aspx?/samling/20072/spoergsmaal/s546/index.htm).
Minister, we certainly have a problem.

The problem, Minister, is not that the whole world is laughing at the Danish solution. The problem is, that we can't even live up to our own promises. Thats a worth a laugh.

1 comment:

Jasper H. Bojsen, Microsoft said...

It is a fact, that besides the e-mails with attachments that the municipalities have received from Computerworld, then the municipalities have received few if any e-mails with ODF or Open XML attachments so far. It might be a problem that we are not living up to a promise, but then again it is not a problem in any real sense out in the real world.

I think that it is great that you and I we live in a country that is willing to be progressive in its adoption of technology. A progressiveness that, by the way, shows up in international surveys where Denmark usually comes in among the very best of class when it comes to use of IT in public administration and in the communication between the public sector and the citizens and the private sector.

However, making the decision of being in front has a certain price. This also goes for this particular context with the political decision of being early adopters of ODF and Open XML. The price is related to the fact that there are not a lot of existing experiences to draw from elsewhere, and with the fact that we have to deal with issues specifically related to early adoption – i.e. issues that will most likely not be there in a later point in time.

My point is therefore this: Let’s not laugh at each other or ask others to laugh at us, but instead recognize that this is a journey we are on. Let’s be constructive and give each other room to work together to fix the issues that are an intrinsic part of being in the first-movers crowd.