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Monday, December 05, 2005


InformationWeek >IBM Jumps On Open Document Bandwagon

The Microsoft monopoly is under attack from multiple fronts.

InformationWeek > IBM, Open Document Format > IBM Jumps On Open Document Bandwagon > December 4, 2005

I've long been a fan of open document formats, believing that use of Microsoft's formats produces "vendor lock-in", thereby limiting competition. Kevin's "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" discussed the role of monopoly in capitalist economics, and put things into perspective for me (and also made me think that I had been wasting my time advocating open document formats).

Basically, as I understood the argument, we should expect the capitalist powers-that-be (corporations and governments) to oppose any monopoly that affects an input to production, as "office productivity software" clearly does. Capitalists will also make a point of preventing any one of them from acquiring much more wealth than the others, hence Microsoft is a prime target for them.

I don't see backing open source as a mistake at all. OS can be used by the capitalists for their own ends, but it can also be used to create a counter-economy that undermines their power.
I didn't mean that OS is bad, simply that the issue will take care of itself (the powerful will take care of it), so reformers should place their efforts elsewhere.

Actually, this doesn't apply to all OS, only stuff that impacts general production. For example, music encoding formats mainly impact the consumer, so the capitalists may not do anything about patented monopolies on music formats.
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