Open Source vs. Open Standards

Interesting piece on on the difference between Open Source and open standards. People often get caught up with the promise of open standards, and confuse that with the purpose of Open Source.

To me, the real goal isn't Open Source. That's a means to an end, often enabling and facilitating adoption of open standards. The real goal is the creation, adoption, and implementation of open standards, which don't tie anyone to any particular piece of software or data.

The example cited in the article pretty much blows my mind. In order to file for a patent in the US, you have to do it in MS Word .doc format. Which means you have to own Word. Which means, by extension, that you have to pay MS in order to file for a patent. Holy crap! Open standards for document format would prevent this silliness, where Open Source has apparently failed.

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