Late yesterday, IBM's vice president of standards and open source Bob Sutor published a blog that points to Malaysia's potential adoption of the OpenDocument (ODF) file format. According to OpenMalaysia blogger Hasan Saidin, ODF is now officially on whatever track it needs to be on to be approved as an official Malaysian standard. At this point, it's just a proposal. But Saidin is confident that the proposal will eventually be accepted by the Malaysian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation once it gets to that level by the end of this year.
Should Malaysia adopt ODF as a nationwide standard, it would be at least the second national government to do so. Three weeks ago, Belgium became the first country to offically embrace ODF and then, a few days later, the Danish government announced it would be piloting ODF later this year as a part of Denmark's larger initiative to move to open standards. France is also looking into ODF. Earlier this year in May, that country's General Repository for Interoperability (RGI) proposed ODF as the recommended format the files generated by office productivity applications. Brazil could also turn into an ODF stronghold with several organizations including its Ministry for Health, Banco de Brazil, and the National Institute for Information Technology either embracing the standard or showing support for it by joining the ODF Alliance.
More interesting to me though, in Sutor's blog was the following comment:
We hope to repeat this about a hundred or so more times around the world. Looking good.
Two questions instantly popped into my mind. Who is we? and regarding the "hundred or so more times," is there some sort of hitlist of nations that the so-called "we" is putting pressure on. So I called Sutor to get a little more persepective. According to him, the "we" is really more the various members of the ODF community including IBM and Sun and less some formal vendor tag-team that's flying from country to country to go to pre-scheduled meetings with their standards and IT folks. "It's more like we're talking amongst ourselves and saying whoever knows someone [that's works on IT within for national governments], to make contact" said Sutor.
In terms of a checklist of nations, while Sutor said there's no formal list, it's clear that IBM and others have prioritized the countries that are "more likely to adopt ODF next" or ones that appear ready to "fundamentally revise their IT strategies around open standards." Sutor mentioned Thailand and Japan as two countries that it became much easier to have discussions with once ODF was ratified as an international standard by the International Organisation of Standardization (a process that I've found to be dubious at best). "Some countries aren't ready for that discussion" Sutor said. "For example, ones that are currently going through elections or a war."