Today is Document Freedom Day (DFD). Celebrated for the first time, it’s a global day for document liberation. According to the website, “it will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Free Document Formats and Open Standards in general.” Red Hat is celebrating the day through awareness activities and use of the created DFD artwork, and we’ve publicly expressed our own support of open standards.

As the March 29th deadline for ISO’s OOXML vote draws closer, it’s a time for FLOSS advocates to show their support of open standards. When talking about document standards, the greatest interoperability is achieved by having one standard to which all vendors adhere. Some proprietary companies argue that having one standard stifles innovation, but we don’t think that’s true because complying with a standard does not preclude developers from creating multiple formats in which to create, save and exchange documents. Having an open document standard simply means that text documents, spreadsheets and presentations that users create and exchange can be opened by the software program of their choice.

In this way, the home user has the greatest amount of flexibility and freedom to exchange creations with other users or to port data into other applications. It also provides a varied choice of vendors that offers the user the best product to meet individual needs. DFD celebrates this idea of choice – the idea that consumers shouldn’t be locked into any one vendor’s products. That our companies should compete on pricing, service and quality, rather than fight to maintain outdated monopolies. And that a consumer who creates data owns that data, and should have the freedom to use that data as seen fit.

DFD provides the opportunity to show others that when it comes to the way we create, share and save documents, things have changed. The “old way” perpetuated a system in which information was closely linked to the application that created it, granting control to the developer of software, not the consumer of that software. The “new way” allows information to be presented using an open standard that is not under the control of one vendor. This puts control of the data exactly where we think it should be – with the consumer who is creating that data, not with the company that created the software. DFD was created to make the public more aware of the role that open standards play in the development of interoperable technology.

With more than 70 percent of Americans using the Internet, we should recognize that users are creating and sharing their works at an unprecedented rate in our history. Today’s celebration is about the ability of all of us to exchange our creations with our family, friends and colleagues regardless of the software package that is installed on our computers. We hope you’ll show your support of today’s Document Freedom Day. To start, you can download some artwork from the Document Freedom Day website.