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Peter Quinn Explains his Resignation

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the sad-state dept.

Politics 125

JSBiff writes "Peter Quinn, former CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has given an interview to Pamela Jones over at Groklaw, regarding the people, companies, and events surrounding his resignation. He spins an interesting tale of Microsoft, money, and the politics of technology." From the article: "Now the folks that have say here do not know me from a hole in the wall and the funds were for projects that were totally unrelated to ITD. I clearly had set the priorities for the Bond but this funding is for projects like a new Taxpayers System, new Registry of Motor Vehicles system, etc., all projects desperately needed by the citizens of the Commonwealth. Eric Kriss and I always had a goal of making IT 'a'political and now it was rapidily becoming a political football of the highest magnitude. I took this job in the hopes of making meaningful and institutionalized IT reform. All the previous efforts were about to be for naught as political payback." We discussed Quinn's resignation last month.

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125 comments

'a'political? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14550961)

Is that a goa'uld name?

Re:'a'political? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551212)

Kelshak, Tokra! ;)

Kree, Jaffa!

Tekmatek, Master Bra'tac.

~m

Re:'a'political? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552224)

quick lets get the political hacks in mass to cheyene mountain, dial chulac and pitch them in (or Annubis' homeworld) hmm what would be a good planet to send these folks??

Re:'a'political? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14552696)

"The first address we gave them was a black hole. They get progressively darker after that."

For or Against? (2, Insightful)

XMilkProject (935232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14550970)

Remind me, are we for or against this guy!? :)

I'll give him alot of credit for his perceived honesty in the interview. He seems to have come clean on why he was unable to be successful in his goals, and on the surface he seems to have noble intentions.

Re:For or Against? (2, Informative)

floorgoblin (869743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551001)

I believe he was an advocate for the adoption of the Open Document format by the Massachusettes state gov't, so that's a plus for him at least.

Re:For or Against? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551043)

I think the guy has good intentions but it also seems like he enjoys being a Linux celebrity a little too much. He'd be able to accomplish a lot more as the CIO of Massachusetts than as a martyr, adulation from the delusional teenage fanboys at Groklaw notwithstanding.

Re:For or Against? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14552845)

Translation:

He should just STFU and buy from my favorite company - Microsoft.

Delusional fanboys indeed.

Re:For or Against? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551079)

If you support the government mandating what software you use, then you're for him.

If you'd rather have the freedom to choose, you'd be against.

Just because he was trying to force people to use OpenOffice.org doesn't mean government should have the power to force you to use a specific software package. Freedom of choice is more important than "sticking it to Microsoft".

ODF = choice, DOC = NO CHOICE (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551102)

DOC = MS-word
ODF = KWord, OOo, AbiWord, ...
stop trolling, please

Re:ODF = choice, DOC = NO CHOICE (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551162)

Yes. He would be better off if he were to stop trolling. His skills are lackluster at best. His misdirection and misinformation were shoddy, and his FUD was totally lacking. I'd say it was a 2 out of 10.

Re:ODF = choice, DOC = NO CHOICE (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551170)

Yes, but unless MS-Word also includes ODF, a large chunk of the population loses interoperability with the rest of the choices. :-\

You should remember - it is not enough that you give me a choice, I should be able to bail out of the choice and switch to alternatives, too.

Re:For or Against? (5, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551129)

He wasn't forcing you to use OO. He was forcing you to use Open Document Format, a format agreed on by *multiple* word processor companies that is royalty free and usable by any company who wishes to implement it, no hooks. That includes MS, should they so choose. This would change the current system, where only people who buy MS software are ensured of interoperability with government published documents. In other words, he was *increasing* choice, not decreasing it.

Re:For or Against? (0)

Osrin (599427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551227)

Playing devil's advocate, that point is debatable. If you replace all of the screws on the planet with an agreed standard of philips head screws, and most people only have the (by example) non-standard flathead screwdriver then you have not exactly made it easier for everybody to complete their home improvement projects.

Re:For or Against? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551261)

But software is modifiable. MS is completely free to implement the ODF standard. If they choose not to, that's their problem.

And even in your example- yes, it would cause some short term problems with the screws, but long term it would decrease prices of screws and screwdrivers by making them standard. And it would mean no more drawer filled with screwdrivers and never being able to find the exact right size.

Re:For or Against? (1)

Tinidril (685966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551325)

What if you can download standard screwdrivers for free? What if tool-boxes from all of the major tool-box retailers (except one) already contained the standard screw drivers, or came with an offer to send you the new standard as soon as it was implemented?

You analogy (like most analogies) kind of falls flat. Why is it people never want to discuss the thing they are discussing?

Re:For or Against? (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551356)

but if you give everyone a long list of all the places where you could get a new free screwdriver, you have.

And then, the company that makes the non-free flat head screwdrivers could choose if they would like to sell a bit for their flat head screwdriver that would turn the phillips head screws - and heck - people could choose to spend money on that if they wanted to, or they could get the free one.

Re:For or Against? (1)

jargoone (166102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551820)

but if you give everyone a long list of all the places where you could get a new free screwdriver, you have.

Yeah, maybe if the free screwdriver didn't work properly when assembling complicated tables...

Re:For or Against? (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553387)

Are you talking .doc or .odf?

Because the whole point of this is that it's actually difficult to write .doc, so you can have formatting problems, and the solution would be .odf.

If you are having problems with "complicated tables" when saving .odf, presumably using OOffice, could you please elaborate on the issue?

Re:For or Against? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551300)

This would change the current system, where only people who buy MS software are ensured of interoperability with government published documents. In other words, he was *increasing* choice, not decreasing it.

Last I checked, which was right now, OpenOffice.org supports exporting to Microsoft Word documents. So, no, he was decreasing choice by removing Microsoft Office, the most popular and widely used office program, from the list of acceptable programs.

If he really wanted to ensure "open standards" then he could have suggested something like HTML or CSV or any number of other truely open standards with wide support.

Or, even better, he could have simply not mandated any format at all. Why should any specific format be mandated? As long as someone can read it, does it matter what the format is? Just because you have some personal hangup about using Microsoft Office doesn't mean that the government should forcibly exclude it.

If you really thought this was about choice, then he should have been trying to get the state goverment to support as many different formats as possible. This wasn't about choice. This was about getting back at Microsoft. It's really sad to see that so many people have blinded themselves to this reality.

Re:For or Against? (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551446)

First, OpenOffice's support of Microsoft Word documents is not perfect, and it never will be because Microsoft will ensure they never have enough information to make it perfect. And that matters. I get Microsoft Word forms reasonably often, and OpenOffice doesn't really handle them all that well. And, there are a number of word processing programs (Abiword being an example) that handle Microsoft Word documents very poorly but handle ODF just fine. So, really, it was increasing choice, not decreasing it.

HTML and CSV are completely inadequate for office documents. HTML is an mediocre display format, and a lousy format for editing.

The question is, who owns the data? When the data is in a Microsoft proprietary format, Microsoft effectively owns the data. You either stay locked in the past forever (not really an option) or pay Microsoft whatever they ask for new software and the ability to read your old data.

It is beyond unacceptable for a government to be in this position. It basically sacrifices sovereignty to Microsoft. What law will Microsoft demand as a price for an upgrade? How much will people have to pay Microsoft in order to send the government a document their software can understand?

Already the deleterious effect of giving Microsoft so much control can be felt in the enormous political wrangling over this. Microsoft has been able to effectively force this guy to resign. It's utterly ridiculous.

Re:For or Against? (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552471)

There's an alternative for to OO and KOffice and Abiword for linux which supports Microsoft doc format. It's not free, but it's quite well polished. It's also cross-platform, and works on portable devices... and I'm not talking about Hancom Word!

http://www.textmaker.de/ [textmaker.de]

There are occasional deals on ebay for it - I already got mine so feel free to bid the next license deal up to the max!

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with TM. My liability towards you is zilch regarding this suggestion, even if you get sucked into a black hole as a result of following it.

Re:For or Against? (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551459)

Why should any specific format be mandated? As long as someone can read it, does it matter what the format is?

It matters if a proprietary format is chosen, and this proprietary format requires proprietary software to read it. What happens when said proprietary format/software is abandoned by the vendor?

Re:For or Against? (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551500)

Last I checked, which was right now, OpenOffice.org supports exporting to Microsoft Word documents.


It contains reverse engineered support, which is imperfect and can be yanked out at any time by one law from congress. Or by MS deciding to put an encryption on next years data model (making reverse engineering a DMCA violation).

Or, even better, he could have simply not mandated any format at all. Why should any specific format be mandated? As long as someone can read it, does it matter what the format is? Just because you have some personal hangup about using Microsoft Office doesn't mean that the government should forcibly exclude it.


Because the rule forces the *government* to release all documents in the ODF format. Previously, the government released it in any format it chose, which most likely was MS Office. Meaning if you don't shell out money for office, you won't be able to read governemnt forms and documents. The state of Massachusettes was forcing people to buy MS products in order to interact with it. Since ODF is a free format (as in beer), that means ANYONE with a computer can now open government documents, where previously only people who bought MS software could. This is the way things should be- government documents should be open to ALL citizens.

If you wish to use MS products, you still can- either convince MS to support ODF, or convert the ODF files to .doc and edit them in word. If you need to return it for some reason, convert back. Or just use any of the many free office suites that support ODF. See, now you have a choice, instead of having to use MS Word.

Re:For or Against? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552504)

pardon me for swinging a clue by 16 but if you just happen to do some looking if you check the Open Document Formats they are zip files containing the payload of content.xml (text parts) styles.xml (styles/css stuff) meta.xml (meta.info) settings.xml (odd bits needed by programs) meta-inf/manifest.xml (list of the structure of the document [what goes where]) directories with linked objects (pictures and stuff) (pictures and sounds and ...)

Re:For or Against? (4, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551357)

> He wasn't forcing you to use OO. He was forcing you to use Open Document Format

Actually, he wasn't trying to force YOU to use anything! He was trying to force the Mass. gov't to use open, cross-platform, multi-vendor formats for their public documents! (Note the plural in "formats"--pdf and html are also on the list.) Private citizens creating their own documents would be free to continue using XYWrite or VisiCalc or whatever other stupid, proprietary formats they want their data to become obsolete in.

Not exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551958)

He was forcing his employees to use it, unless they were disabled and needed some third-party access software which only worked with MS Office. It wasn't like the state was making MS Office illegal or something. They would still accept Word and other document formats.

Also, ODF wasn't the only format they were using. PDF was another.

Re:For or Against? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551263)

Oh ffs... I'll bite

The point is not to dictate what software use, but to adopt a policy that ensure that official documents can be opened, edited and converted without fuzz in the future.

Microsoft does not like this so they refuse to support OpenDocument in Word, while others seems to be more positive to interoperability (Koffice, Abiword, StarOffice for instance).

Re:For or Against? (4, Insightful)

iabervon (1971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551288)

He specifically avoided making any requirements on documents submitted to his department. The policy explicitly states that you can use whatever you want, and they'll do their best to deal with it. His mandate included making recommendations for what people in general use, and he decided that the correct thing to do was to tell people to continue using the software and formats they were already using. The policy only applies to the documents the executive department produces, and says that they should be in a standard format, not whatever the person preparing them feels like.

If you really want the choice of what format documents are in, why don't you demand that Slashdot post their stories in DOC format, too? Slashdot is forcing you to use HTML right now.

For that matter, the normal thing will be for them to use ODF documents internally, but send out PDFs, since they aren't trying to make the documents they publish easy to edit. So use you be complaining that Slashdot's back end doesn't store their stories in DOC.

Re:For or Against? (3, Insightful)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552054)

I'm definitely for the guy. He states it plainly that MS uses its legislative influence to try to derail any plans that would decrease the overall revenue stream of MS.

Maybe the Globe should be investigating those representatives, senators and general officers that tried to kill ODF. But they won't. Money talks and bullshit walks.

Despite the globe article (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551010)

Despite the globe articles making it seem like he resigned for bring a crook, this story is a very very interesting one about the power of money / lobbey in politics.

You had comittees and senators and groups who had never paid attention for a second to this space going absolutely crazy about it. One of the hearings it was quinn and his lawyer and like 8 people opposed to him.

Also, politics is irrational. They proposed doing things they had lectured people not to do before.

I suspect it drives out good folks (federall and national) when you get so much political influence, and all that are left in beuracracies are real beauracrats, who just want the job.

Facinating.

Is Technology 'A'political? (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551959)

I don't think it can be. Anything that people stake their careers on becomes political to some degree. After all, when people realize that technology decisions cause their earnings potential increase/decrease they start to care all of a sudden. They start to become activists. Next thing you know, tech debate looks a lot like policical debate.

Re:Despite the globe article (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552088)

I've known a number of very smart bureaucrats. They may not be politicians, but they have a good understanding of organizational politics and use it to their advantage. They keep their organizations running in a reasonably efficient and effective manner, despite the insanity of the system. Unfortunately, even they are not immune to the effects of stupid decisions and rules made at the highest levels of government. What's worse are the kleptocracies often seen in state and local government, whose primary function is to give jobs and contracts to the friends and relatives of elected officials.

German has it best (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551051)

Not for nothing in German is City Hall called the Rathaus (yes, I know, I know, it's a feeble joke.). But all too often the rats are on the outside trying to get in.

Re:German has it best (2, Informative)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551140)

Leo [leo.org] seems to indicate the 'Rat' is something more abstract, like council, than mammalian.
Or maybe the 'F' in front was silent for so long as to fall off the word.

As a citizen of Massachusetts (5, Interesting)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551166)

I applaud Quinn for trying to straighten out the IT mess that is state government. There may come a time where professional competence trumps political maneuvering here, but apparently, that time is still far in the future.

It seems to this user that the pace of Microsoft releases is increasing (to once a year), and support time for the older formats is decreasing. While I understand that it might be fun to embed Java objects and streaming voice and video in Word documents, it really has no relevence to me, and I doubt to many (most?) users. Certainly not at the state government level, where tables, charts and images are about all you need, and these were handled perfectly well in Word'97 (as they are in OpenOffice). Now, given a choice between paying annually for a new revision of MS Office, and paying a competent Unix/Linux IT guy to administer a bunch of Linux desktops, I'd vote for the latter. I'm thinking I'd get more for my tax dollar.

Re:As a citizen of Massachusetts (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551215)

What do you mean by "pace of releases increasing"? Do you mean Office, which has been on about a 2 year release cycle for ages? Or do you mean Windows, which was last released in 2001 (XP) and is set to come out again in late 2006. 5 years is too fast for you?

Regarding support, Microsoft now offers 10 years of free patches for the products. Go look at microsoft.com/lifecycle

Their old products are certainly ending their support phases, but Windows XP is I think scheduled until 2011 for free patches. That's 10 years for the $80 your computer builder paid for it to be on the box you bought.

Re:As a citizen of Massachusetts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551385)

Or $5 through your local university...

Document accessability is what matters (3, Insightful)

cweber (34166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551443)

Quoting original poster: "Now, given a choice between paying annually for a new revision of MS Office, and paying a competent Unix/Linux IT guy to administer a bunch of Linux desktops, I'd vote for the latter. I'm thinking I'd get more for my tax dollar."

Cost of software is an issue, and certainly an important one.

More important, however, is accessibility and usability of government records. If important data and memos about an issue of today are locked up in a proprietary format which almost certainly won't be completely readable by the then current version of Office software in 2020 and beyond, then this is a real loss for all concerned! Moreover, citizens shouldn't have to own and use a particular piece of commercial software to be able to read documents which their own government produces. That's just plain wrong if there are simple and straightforward alternatives.

Shocked (3, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551184)

I'm shocked that politics is involved in government decisions. Shocked!

---

The key is to have the government do as little as possible. Then you can make your decisions, and I can make mine. When you decide for yourself, it's a personal question, not a political one. When the government decides, it's always going to be political.

This is the same issue as "decency" filters on (government) library computers. Politics decided that one too.

The only way everyone gets what they want is by taking it out of government hands.

Re:Shocked (1)

Horatio_Hellpop (926706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551327)

//The only way everyone gets what they want is by taking it out of government hands.//

kind of like ... anarchy?

Swell. Good luck with that, junior.

Re:Shocked (1, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551330)

>>The only way everyone gets what they want is by taking it out of government hands.

What does that mean? Are you saying constituents don't want these filters? Family groups and both political parties wanted them. When you look outside your circle of geek friends you'll see regular people who really don't care and actually approve of crap like this. Essentially, you're just blaming this mysterious free-floating government thing while ignoring the constituents - family groups, christians, etc who demand filters. Its not like some bored fuctionary in some IT department decided to give himself more work. Its your congress at work - most notably your Republicans with the Christian groups. Last I checked these Christians were not "government" but people with a right to peitition their governments. They're creaming everyone else with their resources and connections. In other words, if you want change then you cant sit on some high horse and decry civilization, you need to work against these people. Are you up to it? Or will you continue down the path of the "southpark conservative" and just blame "government?"

Re:Shocked (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551511)

What does that mean? Are you saying constituents don't want these filters?

Obviously, they did want them. That's not the point.

There ought to be no government libraries. If people want libraries, they can build them and provide for them on a voluntary basis and choose the rules based on their whims.

The only reason for government involvement is to take money (and choices) away from people against their will.

A lot of pro-big-government people don't seem to like politics deciding government actions. They need to re-think their pro-big-government stance in light of the benefit of getting rid of the political decision-making.

Re:Shocked (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551947)

There ought to be no government libraries. If people want libraries, they can build them and provide for them on a voluntary basis and choose the rules based on their whims.

Sounds to me like someone maybe doesn't understand the role that libraries are intended to play in a democracy as a storehouse for information that people need to fully participate in said democracy. As long as we're going to have some form of government, I'm all for libraries.

Now if you had simply said "There ought to be no government." I might be more inclined to agree.

Re:Shocked (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552324)

As long as we're going to have some form of government, I'm all for libraries.

And you're also for political decision-making, because it's part of the package.

And that might mean Microsoft-only file formats in government documents, or "decency" filters on library computers, or any number of other things. Often, political decisions are going to go against your wishes.

But you're choosing to accept that outcome.

Re:Shocked (2, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553164)

There ought to be no government libraries. If people want libraries, they can build them and provide for them on a voluntary basis and choose the rules based on their whims.

Libertarian political rhetoric is retarded. You know what happens when a bunch of people work together to provide common resources and to regulate themselves as a community? You get what is called a "government".

Re:Shocked (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553466)

You know what happens when a bunch of people work together to provide common resources and to regulate themselves as a community? You get what is called a "government".

You only get government (as it's currently known) when the provision of those "common resources" is against the will of some of the people in the community. Otherwise, it's an association, or a charity, or a club, or a company, or some other non-government organization. Force is the difference. Governments force certain people to do things for the benefit of the others. That's good when you're imprisoning a rapist. It's a lot less good when you're building a library or some other non-essential (luxury) service.

Re:Shocked (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553790)

If you don't like the rules of your community, you can choose to not participate. This is called "leaving" and is exercising the free will libertarians like to talk about so much. I can't help but notice that they've done a really piss poor job of ever living up to any of these principles, which makes me think that, taken as a whole, they're a bunch of whiny people who like to have things like streets and infrastructure and education and just wish that all that would stay while the nasty government goes away.

Of course, thats totally aside from whether or not the definition of "non-essential" is reasonable or even consistent - since it almost inevitably is "anything I don't approve of that I think my taxes pay for".

Re:Shocked (3, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553240)

>>There ought to be no government libraries

Hell, while we're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, unplug your fat DOD funded internet while youre at it.

I love my local library system, both here in the city and when I lived in the suburbs. Being a kid with no money but having access to all the best sci-fi in the world, other fiction, and non-fiction was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Back before computers were affordable it was the place where I could go to get word processing done and even play a game! Right now people without internet access depend on them for the basic information you're spoiled to have. Oh no, the horrors of "big government" (the US government is tidy compared to some of europe and scandanavia its your military thats huge) led to people getting books for free! How will big publishing survive?!?

Go back to watching southpark in your mom's basement. Thanks.

Ha. (2, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551382)

The key is to have the government do as little as possible.
And if you can figure out exactly what as little as possible translates to in the real world, you will be hailed as the greatest statesman-philosopher that ever lived.

Re:Ha. (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551441)

And if you can figure out exactly what as little as possible translates to in the real world, you will be hailed as the greatest statesman-philosopher that ever lived.

Let's start with less than they do now, and see how it goes.

Re:Ha. (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551743)

I'm surprised no one has called you a communist yet. I can't seem to bring up my views here (seems that they're similar to yours) without some idiot letting his Russian-phobia lose on me. (Note: I != Communist)

Re:Ha. (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552037)

Hear Hear!

Currently the Federal government spends 20% of our GDP. I'm not sure how much the states, collectively, spend, but I'm sure its substantial.

Lets try less than that. How's about we aim for 15%? Then we can look around, and decide if we can go lower than that.

Re:Ha. (1)

starwed (735423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552268)

Think for a second who the money they spend goes to... it doesn't just vanish into a vaccum.

Re:Ha. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553153)

So you're saying 100% of dollar value is returned to taxpayers? As long as that number is below 100%, there's room to cut spending.

Re:Ha. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553670)

All of that money cycles back through the global economy, so yes, eventually it's all returned. It may take an incredibly circuitous route, however, so there's no guarantee on time.

Been done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551781)

Actually, Lao Tzu did that about 2,500 years ago. Problem is, politicians don't get philosophy ;)

Re:Ha. (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553003)

"And if you can figure out exactly what as little as possible translates to in the real world, you will be hailed as the greatest statesman-philosopher that ever lived."

In the real world this transaltes to "Give me mine, take away his".

Like mining regulations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551407)

Damn government, always getting in the way of the small businessman!!

Re:Shocked (2, Interesting)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551818)

The key is helping you find your brain. The dude was looking after an OPEN standard that would have given you MORE choice..as opposed to a M$ Library or M$ Swimming Pool or M$ Anything that you can damn be sure will be closed source, close standard.

Only a government as a weight big enough to impose OPEN standard without actually forcing anybody to lose money..but hey, your corrupt representative keep getting lobby money to fuck up anything that benefits the masses.

They key is corrupt politicians, not government where government does same or better then privates.

Re:Shocked (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551904)

The dude was looking after an OPEN standard

Apparently you don't understand. Open standards are good for some constituencies and bad for others. Politics decides who wins because it's the government.

If you want non-political decision-making, you need to remove the choice from the government. Period.

Re:Shocked (1)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552807)

YOU don't get it. With only privates and no government, who's supposed to impose an open standard for public records and do so with public records of voting , transparent rulemaking ? You'll NEVER get an open standard if any company can avoid that, it's not as much profiteable as a closed one and it costs more to implement.

Indeed there's a failure in corrupt politicians, not in presence of a government.

Can you tell me something the government does... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551194)

...that doesn't become political. Seems all governments cannot provide services, education or justice without wasting 90% of the resources on politics, payouts, and pensions for incompetence.

Microsoft (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551204)

I have no doubt in the world that Microsoft has an OD filter for MSWord which they could release through Office Update at any instant they wish. They just need a good enough reason to do so.

Re:Microsoft (1)

xtronics (259660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552721)

It is said that M$ has an OD in the works -- I'm sure it will only read in documents in an inconvenient fashion and if they come out with an output filter it will be riddled with bugs.

For those of you too lazy to read the TFA (5, Informative)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551270)

It seems that Quinn was the person that wanted to introduce open document formats in Mass. What happened is that certain senators started cutting the MASS IT budget to the point where the MASS government could not spend anything on IT unless they got the ok of a special commission of senators.

Quinn felt sure that he was the reason the senators were cutting the IT budget. He felt that the whole state was being punished because of him. He believes that the state urgently needs new computer systems to take care of their records (these systems being completely unrelated to the open document controversy) and they will not get them because the senate is cutting the budget.

Since he did not want to see the state and his colleagues in IT getting screwed because of him, he decided to quit.

Which Senators? (2, Interesting)

namespan (225296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553676)

Quinn felt sure that he was the reason the senators were cutting the IT budget. He felt that the whole state was being punished because of him. He believes that the state urgently needs new computer systems to take care of their records (these systems being completely unrelated to the open document controversy) and they will not get them because the senate is cutting the budget.

Does anyone know which Senators? I'd say they're prime candidates for replacement next election cycle, if not actually being taken to with pitchfork, torch, tar, and feather.

Apolitical politics (2, Insightful)

konstant (63560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551395)

I have the greatest sympathy for IT/CS people who dislike "politics" and try to avoid it in their jobs. This guy, though, had a job in the GOVERNMENT. How can he feign outrage that politics became involved?

Fantastic Logic ! (1)

tizan (925212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551801)

Surely you mean then that government run emergency service should be run by politics... Boy don't ever hit 911 if your logic should apply !!!

Re:Fantastic Logic ! (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551903)

That whooshing sound is the GP's point zipping over your head.

Re:Fantastic Logic ! (1)

tizan (925212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552056)

In simple terms bubbub...you do expect politics not to be involved in many governmental jobs...otherwise you're dead as a duck !

Re:Fantastic Logic ! (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553235)

That's what he was saying: Politics should not be involved in government. Take some reading comprehension classes, and then work on your own writing because it's almost beyond comprehension.

For starters, "you do expect politics not to be involved in many governmental jobs" should be "You do not expect politics to be involved..." or even better, "You expect politics to be absent from..."

Also, your first post, "Surely you mean then that government run emergency service should be run by politics..." doesn't even make sense. Are you being sarcastic? Or did you forget the word don't?

I'm not really a grammar Nazi, but if you're going to argue something, at least make sure you understand the other person's post before writing unintelligible babble.

Re:Fantastic Logic ! (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553281)

My mistake, I thought you were replying to this [slashdot.org] post.

Even so, your comparison is flawed. A 911 operator is not a high level government official. As far as the service overall, if you think politics plays no role in quality of service over general areas, you've been severely misinformed. There are have been regular complaints about the service in lower class areas, probably since the introduction of 911.

Re:Apolitical politics (3, Insightful)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552186)

How can he feign outrage that politics became involved?

You don't understand Government.

The greatest aspect, and greatest failure of our form of Democratic government is that ostensibly, government employees should be apolitical. Elected officials are political; appointed officials and government employees/workers are NOT political.

Some people even actually try to hold to this; the opposite of this, politics among the beauracrats is the purest definition of "corruption".

Re:Apolitical politics (1)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552201)

I have the greatest sympathy for IT/CS people who dislike "politics" and try to avoid it in their jobs. This guy, though, had a job in the GOVERNMENT. How can he feign outrage that politics became involved?

It used to be that the civil service took pride in carrying out their jobs for the sake of public service and not as part of a political machine. It's a shame that that idea seems to be out of the ordinary these days.

Re:Apolitical politics (1)

christoofar (451967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553250)

This is a trend that comes and goes with time. Everyone is too old to remember the days of NYC and Tammany Hall, where almost every aspect of city government was political, right down to was going to get the job of being a garbage man.

In fact, most municipalities have inherited political structure from the officials down to the paper pushers at all levels of government. Only when free-flowing exchanges of money happen (as in the case of Philadelphia) does the Federal government get involved and start prosecuting.

feigned outrage ... Huh? (2, Insightful)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553259)

Maybe I'm just stupid, but I just went back & re-read the interview. Quinn seemed cool, calm and collected. Not outraged or vengeful. Since there's no "outrage" that I could see, there was none to be feigned. I have seen a lot of feigned outrage in AC posts on this topic from MS shills, however. Basically, they seem to be saying that there is only choice, if MS is the only choice. Bye, I think I'm gonna go feign interest in MS-VISTA and Office 12. Please don't get outraged.

Look at the bright side Mr. Quinn (2, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551422)

At least now you have the experience to work with the government, IT vendors & administrators.
You will know the ups and downs of using Office and OpenOffice and have a good idea where to turn for assistance.

Your skills will be in high demand wherever you end up, and you will probably be a lot better off mentally and financially.
Best of luck to you.

MASS IT priorities (3, Interesting)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551451)

Years ago there was a confrontation with my school district and the state involving contracts for Mac computers. We had always had Macs in the library, computer lab, and classrooms. When it came time to buy new computers, consultants advised our school to get PC's, as most students coud not bring projects home from the Mac lab to their PC. The state reps got rather angry, stating the amount of money they recieve from Apple, and the great discounts they get. The PC switch went ahead anyway... with a few bucks going to a separate Mac computer lab.

End result? The PC's the district could afford were outdated before they even arrived, unable to efficiently run even OEM programs provided with them. The Mac lab had few computers and a separate network, and were the only boxes that could run the grade tracking software (provided and required by the state), so the teachers were frequently on them. So hearing that good old MA (48th ranked state in School technology integration at the time of that incedent) is backwards on IT again. Hopefully within a decade or so my town records won't just be in paper form anymore.

Re:MASS IT priorities (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551774)

Or you could buy Office for Mac...

Re:MASS IT priorities (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551896)

Maybe in the early to mid nineties the gap between platforms was a bit larger? We didn't even use Word most times. I was still using a program at home that default saved to RTF, and the Macs were using Lotus or something of the like.

Slashdot 'Spins' for Microsoft... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551457)

Slashdot has descended into just another Microsoft organ, that grinds and wails the Microsoft tale.

Slashdot sucks.

CD Baric

What'choo talkin' about Willis? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551841)

Are you and I even on the same website? We must be, but I don't know how you came to that conclusion reading the Slashdot blurb, nevermind the actual interview.

A face-to-face interview? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14551464)

Does anybody know if this was a face-to-face interview? If so, was PJ wearing her IBM badge?

Common problem in IT: thinking you're above it (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551578)

IT has had a problem for its entire lifetime of thinking that computing and networks are above politics, that access by the people would somehow improve democracy.

It's had the opposite effect. Computers and networks are tools of calculation and communication, and such things have always been as usable by the forces of politics. It was sheer naievety to believe that they would not be adopted by politicians.

And since such things cost money, no matter how low the learning curve goes, they will be skewed by cost towards those willing to spend money to purchase political power.

So here we are. Managing the very tools that will be used to enslave us if we allow them to.

Because in the end, our only protection against the embargo of our freedoms by those who concentrate power in themselves for penurious goals is to exercise them at all necessary pain to ourselves.

Get off your ass and vote. And vote for the good person, not the one who promises you the shiniest toys.

Re:Common problem in IT: thinking you're above it (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14552298)

Get off your ass and vote. And vote for the good person, not the one who promises you the shiniest toys.

Voting is useless. The Democrats and Republicans are on the same team. They only pretend to be bitter opponents. The electoral system in this country is just plain fucked. For example, in NC, not only will they no longer put Libertarians (or anybody else) on the ticket, but I can't even be registered as a Libertarian (or anything else). Voting is just to make people *think* that they have a choice.

Real change in this country isn't going to occur via the voting booth.

Maybe you're right, but... (1)

Naruki (601680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553295)

When people say "actually getting off your ass and doing what you are expected to do IS USELESS", they need to follow up with "so, instead, do $X".

You didn't do that. Thus, it seems you are one of the teeming masses of idiots who project "Oh, I'm too smart to work with the system, and you're too stupid for doubting me simply because I don't tell you what my super duper idea is to get things done for reals".

So pony up a solution or fuck off and die. Useless cynicism just gets in the way of everyone else.

Re:Common problem in IT: thinking you're above it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14553624)

uh, have you seen a good person running for office?

all i see are a bunch of pimps all to willing to whore out their constituents to the elite rich.

yes, i'm talking about republicrats, demicans and whole lot of them.

What a douchebag. (-1, Flamebait)

Zico (14255) | more than 8 years ago | (#14551911)

Stick to doing the job the citizens are paying you to do, instead of this transparent attempt to bask in the adulation of Groklaw and Slashdot kidz.

His whole martyrdom and paranoia thing was pathetic. But but but, all the kidz tell me that Teh Micro$$$oft planted those stories so it must be true! I stepped down to protect the people of Mass.!

flake? (0, Flamebait)

slashk (519084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553243)

a few things to consider:

- he works as the CIO for a state govt, and expects his personal edicts for mass change to be 'a'political decisions
- he actually stated he was trying to mimic the structure of the UN. that's kind of weird
- he forgot about disabled users in making this decision - a big omission for a state CIO
- he didn't plan for support
- he didn't have a clear migration path for the state's 1M+ documents

and because of the situation he created, he got himself shut down by politicians who saw him as a loose canon.

he decided to convert a state's existing document format to an open format, in the midst of a format war between MS and Novell/IBM/Sun, and say that he was just trying to do the right thing.

so, he decided to put his state on the front line of the war, and with the complicatioins of campaign contributions, elections, etc., he effectively stuck his hand into a political bea nest.

he wasn't thinking straight.

Re:flake? (3, Informative)

yar (170650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553442)

Sounds like you've listened to David Coursey's lines. Most of those are debunked on Groklaw. (Educating David Coursey, http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200601060 30949216 [groklaw.net]

From a government records manager and archivist point of view, his stance makes sense. Archives must be accessible in the future. Proprietrary formats are anathemas to government records and archives.

open == readable (1)

slashk (519084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553595)

MS XML formats were to be available within 1 year of his decision.

problem sovled?
don't know

however, you can guarantee there will be a slew of readers that will pop up for it, once it is available.

migrating from current formats to MS's XML format is a far more practical solution for handling their 1M+ documents.
furthermore, you don't have the same transition problem that you would have if you migrated to a completely foreign standard.

plus, let *office and OO implement MS's format.
heck, they could probably do that within a week ;-)

Decisions on IT should be made by IT people (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14553694)

and not polititions who have no idea about IT.

The same is true of just about any government decisions, governments should let the experts in the field make decisions about which is better.

For example, when the USAF was buying the new fighter jets (the one where boeing and someone else were competing), the government did the smart thing and let the USAF decide which fighter was the better one (in terms of performance, purchase price, running cost etc etc).
The same should apply here. Let the IT guys decide which systems are best for the MA government departments.
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