Document Standards

September 19, 2007

If you’ve been following the industry news in the last few weeks you may have noted that Microsoft failed (narrowly) to secure ISO approval for Office Open XML (OOXML). Your eyes may also have glazed over while you moved on to the next story.

There are some extremely complex issues that underlie this story. They impact the development of document standards, the future of XML in publishing, Microsoft’s role in continuing to dominate software for document publishing and much more.

The most cogent column I’ve read on the standards aspect of the issue is by Jeremy Allison, published 9/17 on ZDNet Technology News, and appears here.

Recommend reading.

I will shortly be adding background information on this issue into my section on Software, listed under Influences.

The Strength of the Canadian Economy

September 15, 2007

The Canadian dollar, after many years trading as low as 62 cents on the American dollar, has now reached a point of near-parity: closing just above 97 cents yesterday.

In an article in the Globe and Mail, BMO Nesbitt Burns deputy chief economist Douglas Porter said “The latest run in the Loonie has been fuelled by $80 oil, $700 gold and $9 wheat,” Mr. Porter said. “Aside from lumber, newsprint and Celine Dion, practically everything Canada produces is now in piping hot demand.” (The “Loonie” is a Canadianism for the dollar itself, as Canada offers single dollars in the form of a gold-colored, bronze-plated coin bearing the image of the Loon, a bird strongly and romantically associated with Canada’s northern wilderness.)

Note that lumber and newsprint are among the few commodities not thriving, suffering in Canada as they are worldwide. Mr. Porter might also have mentioned that Canadian printing exports have dropped drastically in the last several years, victim both to the rapidly changing exchange rates and to increased competition from offshore, primarily China.

This site is not primarily concerned with world macro-economic issues. But the fundamental strength of the Canadian dollar, as much as it may cheer some nationalists and politicians, is not a boon to the future of printing and publishing in Canada.