Liberate your documents.

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An acquaintance emailed me a .docx file last week that my older word processor wouldn't open on the first try.  Before you start sending me fixes, don't worry.  I got it open eventually after much grumbling about proprietary formats that aren't really standards.  But I digress.

The fact that this is STILL a problem for so many users is why I love Document Freedom Day, which is March 31.  Exchanging data through electronic documents is one of the key reasons so many of us use computers in the first place.  And yet, unless you're really into the open standards movement, you may think there's nothing you can do to encourage the free exchange of data.  But you would be wrong.  So what can you, the average person, do to support open document formats?  Here are some of my favorite ideas from the Document Freedom Day website:

1. Write to your representatives and ask public administrations to use open standards.

2. Can't read your document poster. Write something on a poster, e.g. "I cannot read your documents." Then take a picture of a person with the sign in front of a public institution and publish the picture using the tag #dfd2010.

3. Change your email signature for DFD.  Sample:
                Document Freedom Day        - Liberate your documents
       - March 31st 2010
There are several more ideas on the site and ways to support the organizers of the event itself. So, if you're one of the millions of people who would actually like others to be able to open the documents you send them, visit the Document Freedom Day website for more info and start working on your DFD project.  You've got two weeks!  Feel free to share your DFD ideas below.

Melanie Chernoff | As Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, Inc., Melanie monitors, evaluates, and works to influence U.S. and international legislation and government regulations affecting open source technologies and open standards. She also serves as chair of the company's Corporate Citizenship committee, coordinating Red Hat's charitable activities.

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