Levelling the Software Playing Field

Dave Lane (@lightweight)
President, NZ Open Source Society
Presentation to ITx 2016
11 July 2016 - Wellington, New Zealand

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Consider the price difference and increased flexibility.

Open Standards

What are they?

Well defined technical specs available at no cost online, created via a transparent process, by multiple parties, with no royalties, no discrimination, and extensible via a well-defined process.

Standards compliance can typically be vetted by an independent third party (which might carry a cost).

A "standard" controlled unilaterally by a single entity is not open.

Double standards?


Because you never know from where innovation will come.

Open Standards are an incoming tide

Open Standards: kryptonite for proprietary software

Compatibility is vital for competition

Thank "the network effect"

Proprietary standards permeate

They soak through social fabric, from government to business, to citizen, and back again.

Mechanism of Lock-in

That's what proprietary standards do.

Users are powerless

If you succumb, you give away your power as a purchaser.

All of Government Agreements

Another three years of Microsoft hegemony. Yay.

Government trumpeted "discounts" and "savings".

What. Utter. Bollocks.

Proprietary Standards Everywhere

That's the promise of the TPPA, TTIP and TiSA. The multinational corporate tail wagging the dog.

Government's Implicit Mandate

Use proprietary standards!

I checked 3 software-related RFPs...

Guardians of NZ Superannuation EDRMS RFP

NZQA HR and Payroll System RFP

Wellington City Council RFID System RFP

NZ's software status quo is proprietary...

and that's woefully broken.

When the market doesn't deliver...

It's the government's job to regulate

Positive Developments

It's not all moving in the wrong direction here in NZ

NZ is slowly following in the footsteps of other fast movers:

The UK mandated open standards for documents and data in 2014.

Many European countries and states following suit.

The US is open sourcing all government-funded software (removing proprietary incentive).

The D5 Charter

Hon Peter Dunne signed us up to the D5 Charter in 2014.

The D5: S Korea, Estonia, Israel, the UK, and NZ.

Pledge to open up (source, standards, accessibility, services) and share innovations.

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A software extension to the NZ Government Open Access and Licensing framework:

NZ government funded software development to be Open Source by default.


MBIE & the GCIO are investigating requiring Open Document Format either alongside of, or instead of MS' (not-open) "Office Open XML" formats for all GETS.govt.nz tenders.

A level playing field

Open Standards Mandate for the greater good:

Mandate obvious open standards, select or create non-obvious with vendor independent groups.


This is a problem only the government can fix.

But we can mobilise to provide encouragement.

Add your voice: http://openstandards.nz


The images used in this presentation are Creative Commons licensed and, if not mine, are attributed to their owners or displayed under fair use provisions.

Rights on all trademarks shown in screenshots rest with their owners and are shown here for illustration under the provisions of fair dealing.

This presentation uses open source browser-based presentation software, Reveal.js, created by Hakim el Hattab.

This talk: http://pres.lane.net.nz/itx2016/openstandards-nz.

For my speaker's notes, type "s" in a modern open standards compliant browser.