November 2005

Google and Turing’s Cathedral

by Lee Gesmer on November 6, 2005

Technology. Science historian George Dyson visited Google recently, upon the 60th anniversary of John von Neumann’s proposal for a digital computer. His musings, in the form of a short essay published by Edge, are provocative and fascinating.

My visit to Google? Despite the whimsical furniture and other toys, I felt I was entering a 14th-century cathedral – not in the 14th century but in the 12th century, while it was being built. . . .

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Bag and Baggage

by Lee Gesmer on November 4, 2005

Denise Howell at Bag and Baggage complimented my firm’s various blogs (1, 2 and 3) and I have to return the compliment. When I sat down with our web/blog master Nathan Burke to show him what I considered the best legal blogs, we basically started and stopped with Bag and Baggage. If I could bring only one blog to a desert island ….Read the full article

Politics, Sausages and Computer File Formats

by Lee Gesmer on November 2, 2005

Technology. Did you ever think you’d see politicians debating software file formats?

Massachusetts has become embroiled in a politicized debate over a state agency’s decision to move away from Microsoft’s proprietary standards and require that all state employees, commencing in 2007, save documents in two state-approved file formats: Adobe Acrobat PDF files and the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications.

The logic behind this issue is simple: if Massachusetts moves to Oasis OpenDocument, anyone with Internet access will be able to read state documents. As things now stand, if a document was created with Word or Excel (representing the two most common applications, word processing and spreadsheets), a citizen would need to have a licensed copy of Microsoft software to read the document. Of course, Microsoft claims that its Office formats are sufficiently open to satisfy the Commonwealth’s requirements.

Needless to say, there have been all kinds of business and political cross-currents swirling around this issue since it first emerged, and it has thrust the Massachusetts Information Technology Division (or ITD), which usually labors in obscurity, into the spotlight.… Read the full article