On the Zeal of “Free” File Formats

I went to grab a graphic for a presentation from the CC Metrics wiki this morning, and had two problems.

CC Metrics

First, some overly zealous people have placed a truly “free/libre/open” line in the graph. This is just going to confuse my audience. They are hearing about CC for the first time and don’t care about the arguments zealots or purists are having about what qualifies as a truly “Free Cultural Work.” Why on EARTH did CC ever involve itself in that, anyway?

So I grabbed the spreadsheet source which is thoughtfully linked from the site so that I could generate a clearer version of the graph. Well, the purists have me again – the spreadsheet download is only available as an .ods file, which none of the software on my laptop can open. Am I going to download Open Office just for the sake of opening one file? Even if I wanted to, could I actually succeed in downloading that huge piece of software over the hotel wireless connection? No.

All software that can open .ods can open .xls, but the opposite is not true – Excel does not understand .ods. If people cared more about facilitating access than about free/libre purism, I wouldn’t have had these problems today. Unfortunately for me, I have neither a graph I can show nor data I can use. Pragmatism over zeal, folks…