Being Open about lock-in effects in the Swedish public sector: Taking Open Standards seriously by Björn Lundell

There is a strong movement in Europe to promote products that support open standards. Directives and proposals at European and national levels have been developed in this area. There is in particular an increasing recognition of the need for governmental organisations to support and promote standard document formats. This vision can stand in stark contrast with the reality of those document formats which can currently be accepted and produced by those organisations.

In this presentation we address the apparent tension between the current situation and the current Swedish governmental vision, which states that the use of Open Source Software and Open Standards should be supported (Prop. 2004/05:175). We find that a small minority of Swedish organisations can actually respond appropriately when presented with a document in a format that conforms to an open standard, whereas all are willing and able to accept documents in a proprietary format.

In many countries there are industry associations that seek to maintain the interests of companies dedicated to Open Source and Open Standards. For example, Open Source Sweden is an industry association that seeks to maintain the interests of Swedish companies dedicated to supplying Open Source products, development and services. Its mission is to stimulate a healthy market for Software through the development, provision, and support of products and services based on Open Source Software and Open Standards. Despite the existence of such associations and companies, there are many myths about Open Source and Open Standards still perceived today. In drawing from an ongoing study, we will also report on one of these myths (about “lack of support”) and comment on possible reasons for why this may be believed.