On March 27 2013 , Document Freedom Day was celebrated in GPA Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal. This was the first time a event on document freedom was organized in Nepal. Prakash Neupane as the ambassador of Open Knowledge Foundation Nepal (OKFN) together with OSAC organized this event which was supported by FOSS Nepal and Central Department of Library and Information Science (Tribhuwan University).
Prakash Neupane started the event by calling Former minister Ganesh Shah on podium to give welcome speech. He as always gave a serious speech with fun filled environment. Remembering his youth days, he appreciated this effort of OKFN and today’s youth for initiative on Document Freedom. He recalled the days, when he as a youth wanted to open initiatives or group like this but it was hard at that time. Although his busy schedule, he managed time for this event.
Document Freedom and Open Standard
Prakash Neupane gave his presentation on Document Freedom and Open Standard on Document Freedom Day. He informed us that Document Freedom Day is celebrated on Last Wednesday of March every year.
Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day “to celebrate Open Standards and open document formats raising awareness of Open Standards and formats. On this day people who believe in fair access to communications technology teach, perform, and demonstrate.
On our query to what is document freedom, Prakash said documents that are free can be used in any way that the author intends. They can be read, transmitted, edited, and transformed using a variety of tools. It is about all forms of data, including artwork, sheet and recorded music, emails, and statistics. These can be stored in ways which empower users. Documents that aren’t free are locked to some particular software or company. The author cannot choose how to use them because they are controlled by technical restrictions, like a powerful car that is artificially restricted to 30 km/ph.
Talking about compatibility remember having to buy or download a new application just so you could open an attachment that you needed for work or when you were sent an important file that your computer couldn’t read properly. Closed systems, standards and formats are barrier in economic, social, political and cultural participation. Your valuable information might turn into digital toxic waste with your next upgrade to a new software. Over time, files that have been saved in closed formats tend to be less and less accessible to their creators.
Nevertheless, as scary as it sounds, we do need to understand the value and meaning of Open Standards. An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is
- Free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilization by any party or in any business model
- Subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties
- Managed and further developed independently of any single supplier in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties
- Available in multiple complete implementations by competing suppliers, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.
So what happens if we have Open Standard ? We can collaborate and communicate with others, regardless of which software they are using. We can upgrade or replace our application and still be able to open and edit the old files. We can choose which phone / tablet / computer you want to use without worrying about compatibility. Open Standards ensure that society has: more competitive software and tech products, more efficient governmental systems and services, more accessible high-end software for innovation and experimentation.
Document Freedom and its Relevance in Libraries
Bhim Dhoj Shrestha, the Head of Central Department of Library and Information Science, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal presented on documented freedom and its relevance in Libraries. He talked about Libraries in Nepal Just started transforming to Digital Format from Print Format and very few Libraries in Nepal started building collection in Full Text in digital formats. He talked how Libraries are supposed to be largest storehouse, Users and Purchaser of Full Text in digital formats regarding eBooks. He also told that Libraries cannot acquire all different Companies e-book Readers which could be a great hindrance, and discussed about Double tier copyright or IPR?
Some of the eBook Readers are SoftBook, Sony Reader, Intel Reader, Apple iPad, Nook Reader, Kobo eReader, Kindle and So on. The hindrances in digitizing are Financial , Technical and Human Resources. He explained how If we could not free document formats (document freedom) It may be Dead-like technologies, e.g: micro-film, micro-fiche, Ultra-fiche, etc.
The presentation concluded with the question “How can we develop a technique to protect copyright/IPR of creator for making freedom of document format?”. It should be a Win-Win situation for Creator and User. The 30+ audience interacted with Bhim Dhoj Shrestha and lot of interesting formal as well as informal questionnaire and comments were going on.
The last part of the event was demonstration on Open Data Tools by Utshab Bhetuwal and Rajendra Sharma of Amrit Science Campus. They presented slides on LibreOffice. They showed demonstration of LibreOffice writer and Bluefish editor.