Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Governments all over the world are turning to the Internet to reduce
costs and improve levels of communications between themselves and
the people who they are elected to serve.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Naturally one would expect that in order to maximise the effect of
their investment in computers, software, content and online systems,
governments would use systems that adhered closely to open standards
rather than forcing people to adopt proprietary solutions.
Alas this doesn't seem to be the case.
Whatever Happened To?|
About a year or so ago I started developing a new
type of pulsejet engine which takes aim fair and square at the
defense and recreation markets.
To find out how things are going, check out the
X-Jet page on this site.
While some governments in other parts of the world are making a concerted
effort to stick to "open" content formats and even embrace open source
software, the New Zealand, US, British and US governments remain
well-entrenched in the Microsoft camp.
I've protested (seemingly in vain) that this is ridiculous and poses
a major security risk to the recipient and the sender. Only a week or
two ago yet another gaping hole in MS Word was exposed that showed, once again,
how a .doc file can act as a perfect vector for viruses and trojans.
Now, before I offend some quite innocent people working hard to build
good quality online systems within government, let me say that some
parts of the government's Net presence are very well done and have avoided
the use of .doc files as a method for delivering content on the Web.
However -- a quick
indicates that there are still almost 4,000 MS Word documents sitting online
within the .govt.nz domain space.
But NZ's politicians are not alone -- the US government has
almost a quarter of a million
such documents online, the Brits have
and the Aussies have
close to 50,000.
Some of these documents appear to have been created using quite old versions
of MS Word -- versions that were
known to include random chunks of computer
memory with information that might contain sensitive data from previous
In an age of terrorism and cyberterrorism, who's going to be first to
stumble on something of great strategic value hidden inside an otherwise
The longer governments delay fully embracing open standards (as opposed
to proprietary systems masquerading as defacto standards), the more expensive
such a move will be.
Maybe, instead of telling us that they're going to introduce e-Government,
our politicians should fess up and admit that they're actually aiming for
an MS-Government with all the benefits that offers -- them.
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