Gearing up for Document Freedom Day

Document Freedom Day (DFD) was launched in 2008 as a global day for the promotion and awareness of Document Freedom in particular, as well as Open Standards and interoperability in general. 205 teams from around the world registered for the first edition of Document Freedom Day. The things they did ranged from mini-conferences and hands-on lessons for applications supporting ODF, such as, over creation of awareness by taking to the streets and engaging people in discussions about Document Freedom, to awarding a special prize to the Foreign Ministry in Germany for its exemplary support for Open Standards and Free Software.

This year, Document Freedom Day will be on 25 March, and now is the time to start preparing for it.

Here are some thoughts on the why, the how, and the what.

Why Document Freedom Day is special

While software remains abstract to many people, documents are something that we can all relate to. They are central to everyone’s daily life and work. Document Freedom affects us all, and also makes it easier for people to understand Open Standards and interoperability in other areas. Document Freedom allows to build awareness for these issues with people who are not computer experts, but computer users. Declaring a global day for Document Freedom allows us to raise our voice together, it provides a rallying point in the year where we can put this issue on the agenda and into the newspapers.

An elevator pitch for Document Freedom

Like all Open Standards, Document Freedom provides users with the freedom to choose their application freely, and yet still be able to communicate and collaborate with others. This freedom of choice provides the basis for competition in the field of text processing software. Where there is healthy competition, companies and software developers are driven to innovate, and monopoly pricing becomes impossible. So Document Freedom means better software and lower cost. Document Freedom also means that yesterday’s documents can easily be read with tomorrow’s software, protecting and preserving your data against forced vendor incompatibilities through the upgrade treadmill.

For governments, Document Freedom translates into control over its data, now and in the future. It also means that citizens can freely choose their software to communicate with the government. And finally, Document Freedom protects against monopoly rent extorted from the government, providing the benefit of lower taxes to society.

Some ideas for DFD

If you already have an idea for Document Freedom Day, you can move right ahead. You don’t need to ask for permission and there is no paperwork, although it does make sense to register your team and let others know what you are doing. By sharing our local activities with others, we give visibility to Document Freedom on a global scale.

In case you don’t yet know what you would like to do, the DFD ’08 team page has activities from all around the world that might give you an idea. It might also be a good idea to subscribe to theĀ  mailing list for DFD teams in order to find others to work with, or exchange ideas and plans. There are also various companies that have declared their support for Document Freedom Day. If you work for one of these companies, you could ask around to find out what others are planning. If your company is not yet listed, you could suggest to take DFD ’09 as an opportunity to declare your support for Document Freedom.

DFD ’09 is coming. Let’s make it an even bigger success than 2008.

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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