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[school-discuss] Re: [IIEP] Open source and open formats
Dear Vu Do Quynh and group:
Let me clarify one point -- I personally am for .pdf or .rtf or .sxw
formats in attachments. But it is my belief that only market forces of
supply and demand will succeed in breaking the bad habit and laziness of
word attachments. "Centralized guidance of political correctness" will
always fall prey to pragmatism. Only when it is more convenient, more
collaborative and faster to send .pdf, etc. will it occur. Lack of
software in these days of open source is a non-issue. With regard to
Word, the real culprit is not Word, but Exchange, and the collaborative
power it or its competitors provide for companies. Thus, with the
increased sophistication of Open Exchange and Opengroupware.org open
source products, exchange can slowly be replaced within corporate
networks. Then the flow down to individual users may occur.
Last week I had the Skoll Linux and knoppix distros mailed to me from
Norway for a $3.00 paypal transfer. I am sure he would mail to SE Asia
as well. The time element was 3 days. Faster than from Chicago. A
single CD, as Quynh explains can be purchased for $.50. So for this
amount a computer owner can have all of the operating system, utilities
and application software on one CD, usually with OO.o. In Singapore,
wages are high, technology is readily available, and copyright laws are
observed. Linux is going great there. At least according to my
Singaporian brother-in-law. In the Philippines, again, where illegal
copies of proprietary software are sold openly inside large department
stores in numerous kiosks, Microsoft prevails, although as the copyright
laws begin to become enforced under the current regime, Linux is
starting to take hold; there is even a Philippine distro. India has a
long history of Unix and now Linux usage.
the phenomena of increased alternative usage where proprietary software
rights are enforced is not counter-intuitive! It makes perfect sense.
But again, the primary stumbling block is hardware and connectivity.
One large well-to-do family of lawyers, CPA's, nurses, doctors, all
landowners in the Philippines will have one computer, plus a terrible
56k connection that is way over-subscribed. There are Ph.D students all
over rural areas without the ability to use any computer. Although
Philippine Pesos are about 40-50 to the $, when you go into even used
computer stores cost is as high as U.S. Usually higher. So the earning
power is low, but cost the same or more! And very poor connectivity.
Sometimes it takes hours to get a connection, and then you are bumped
off after a few minutes. Even those with landlines are considered
elite, because until recently it took years to get a single line. And
there is a time charge for landline use which is high. Because hardware
is the stumbling block, every mall, every downtown area has small shops
with 12-24 computers networked together, again using a 56k modem line.
These are rented out for about $2/hr, with more for printing on cheap
paper. Email is reserved for overseas family through yahoo accounts.
In the Philippines, wireless messaging is king and far more advanced
that in U.S. Again, the culprit is cost, with U.S. telecoms charging
for both sides of a call, message or otherwise. Only in US is email
Vu Do Quynh wrote:
Dear M. Dean and everybody,
Nothing personal here, but I'd just like to comment the followings of
your remarks that have a more global issue than the others :
Michael Dean a écrit :
Probably what most people would want is just a computer!
This is right, but a computer without any operating system (OS) and
applications is of no use, so it should rather be a computer and the
necessary software to use it. So the issue of softwares and their format.
They can get the software, open source or proprietary, on any street
As a fact, in Vietnam we can get a lot of OSes and applications for
about 0.5 $US one CD. With regard of commercial non-free softwares, at
such a price they are obviously illegally copied softwares. We can also
find Cds with free and opensource softwares as well, and then, that's
very cheap and affordable, if you consider the download costs that would
incure if you had to download Openoffice (> 65 Mb = about 5 hours
minimum at 56 kbps, if no trouble) through a modem connection.
The question might be : which Cds (holding illegal softwares or holding
free softwares) people are going to purchase ?
The righ patht is the most pragmatic path to worker productivity.
Then, the right path is not always the one that seems obvious because
the concept of rightness is very relative and never absolute (although
some concepts sound more righteous than others).
In the case I wanted to develop in my previous email, mindlessly buying
a Cd of pirated software (Windows, MS Office, etc.) would be a
short-sighted way and is certainly, by the time being, the easiest way
to go. In nearly no time, with a few bucks, you could get a computer
installed with softwares worth of several thousand of dollars and start
to produce right away. This choice sounds obvious in the usual working
environments of developing countries (where use of illegal commercial
softwares is widespread) too : why bother to use and learn something
legal and free (eg OpenOffice), but that nobody is using, when you can
just get the "big thing" for nothing (although illegally) and when
nobody offers to teach how to use e.g. OpenOffice and nobody ever dares
to send files in e.g. OpenOffice format.
As a matter of fact, everybody is generally following the path (like
sheep in a herd) created by the ones who went before them, i.e. using
The concept of being able to install and use e.g. OpenOffice may arise
when someone, sometimes, can get across interesting information that is
made available in (but not only) the OpenOffice format for further
editing and adaptation to one's proper use.
Being able to use a legal copy of MS Word does not forbid the paralell
use of OpenOffice, in the contrary.
But, for people who are faced with the choice of buying a Cd of pirated
software or a Cd of free softwares to install their computers, what
could we do ? what are we supposed to do ? when we are in the education
For that, some people and institutions, especially, have to start doing
so. A fine and good example can certainly be found at
Vu Do Quynh
Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, Bureau Asie Pacifique
Responsable, Centre d'Accès à l'Information scientifique et technique
(CAI) de Hanoi
08 rue Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tél: +84-4-9331070 ; Télécopie: +84-4-8247383
Sites de toile: http://www.vn.refer.org/