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Saturday, December 31, 2005

The State of Massachusetts and Open Standards 

I was reading some technical junk, but it soon became apparent that this story is primarily political:

The man responsible for bringing OpenDocument to Massachusetts has resigned following controversy and personal attacks over the initiative.

Peter Quinn has resigned from his post as chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to avoid further mudslinging over the state's controversial move to OpenDocument....

Eric Kriss, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance who was Quinn's boss during most of the ODF evaluation process, said that Quinn found it difficult to handle the personal attacks that followed the state's high profile move....

Quinn was particularly affected by last month's report in the Boston Globe, which claimed he had taken unauthorised trips to conferences, according to Kriss. These allegations were investigated, and Quinn was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

"He found the last few months to be very distasteful, especially the Boston Globe article that seemed to imply some sort of improper influence related to his conference travel," Kriss told Groklaw.

The Boston Globe's report attracted a flood of criticism from the technical and legal community. Groklaw described it as a "character assassination in an attempt to discredit OpenDocument."

Andy Oram, an editor for O'Reilly Media, said the article showed that anyone trying to introduce open standards in governments "has to be ready for every kind of backlash."

Here's what Groklaw said after Quinn was exonerated, but before he resigned:

The attack was front page "news" in the Boston Globe. The exoneration of Peter Quinn, whose only "sin" was wanting to use OpenDocument Format instead of Microsoft's solution, is now complete. The bogus investigation is over, and they couldn't find any dirt. All trips were, in fact, authorized by his supervisor, Eric Kriss, Kriss has confirmed. Further, Kriss told Quinn he didn't have to do the paperwork, because he thought that requirement no longer applied. Quinn is innocent.

Of course, the Boston Globe doesn't put the correction on page one. So I will. And they run it on a Saturday, which I expect means the lowest readership of the week. So this story on Groklaw will stay at the top of all other stories through Tuesday, to make sure everyone sees that this decent and honorable man was dragged through the mud for nothing.

How do you give a man back his good name?

Can you imagine if bloggers had done what the Boston Globe did to Peter Quinn? There'd be editorials and news stories and editorials pretending to be news stories all over the place. After all, the Globe printed the accusations without reaching Kriss. It was Thanksgiving, and he wasn't immediately reachable. Had they waited, they'd have known that what Quinn told the Globe was true: Kriss approved the trips. Then they'd have known there was no story, and Quinn's reputation would have remained unsullied. Attack of the Journos. With a Special Interest Group overtone....

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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