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Open Discussion Day

There are only 9 days left, until Open Discussion Day, and I am posting this to remind you of the event and the purpose. Open Discussion Day is May 19th, every year, and it's a day where you drop your legacy IM protocols in favor of open protocols, such as Jabber/XMMP.

I blogged about this last year as well, and since then, I have only been using Jabber. I haven't looked back. I had some family and friends on MSN and a few on ICQ, Yahoo! and AIM, so making the change wasn't easy. In fact, it took a great deal of discussion with my wife and family members. When it came down to it, I had to do what was important for me, and being a Free Software advocate, I needed to drop proprietary protocols, and use only Jabber. It's been one of the best decisions that I have made in my life.

So, for those reading, I encourage you to do the same. Ditch MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! and others, and go completely Free with a Jabber account. You'll be glad you did, and if your family and friends want to IM you, they can just register a Jabber account, or use their Gmail, to get in touch with you. If you are a Free Software advocate, then I submit that using those legacy proprietary protocols is a bit hypocritical, don't you think? 🙂

Not only should you switch to Jabber as your IM, but Ogg Vorbis for your music, Ogg Theora for your video, OpenDocument Format for your documents, Jingle for VOIP, etc. The underlying goal is to use open formats and protocols to the inferior proprietary alternatives.

Take a stop by the Open Discussion Day wiki as well. May serve to be useful and informative.

P.S.- I changed my personal Jabber server from Wildfire to ejabberd recently, and as such, lost a lot of my contacts. Fortunately, I had a backup of my roster. Unfortunately, the majority are Gmail users. Due to the way Gmail handles it's invite system, I cannot re-request an authorization to add you to my roster. You need to delete me from your roster, and re-add me. It sucks, but don't blame me, blame Gmail. So, either get a better Jabber account, or, if you want to IM me, and you're using Gmail, you'll need to remove my contact from your list, and re-add it.

{ 7 } Comments

  1. P | May 10, 2007 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    I'm sorry, I'm all for free and open software/protocols, but what you're suggesting is a pain in the [censored by the admin]. Like, you just described how problematic it is! Changing servers is problematic? And what happens if that tiny little server you were on goes down forever?
    Consider alone the problem having to choose a server in the first place! I have no idea which I should choose, they are all different, supporting different stuff!
    This system is just not there yet, instead of shooting my own feet off, I can as well as go on using propiretary protocols that I know how to handle, I guess.

    Once this thing is grown up, I will be glad to join, not before.

  2. Aaron | May 10, 2007 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Pierrot Somepeople- Hehe. You're a bag of joy and happiness, aren't you? Do you have any positive comments for my blog?

    As far as calling me selfish and immature, as well as a condescending jerk in your last comment, I guess to each their own. However, I'll respond to both of your comments.

    First, I discussed leaving MSN for Jabber exclusively with my family a great deal. We were all in agreeance that me moving to Jabber wasn't that big of a deal, as they all had Gmail accounts anyhow. So, I didn't lose one member of my family or friends during the switch.

    For your second comment, the problems I faced with were related to the Java-powerd Wildfire server and the proprietary nature of Gmail's Google Talk, and not Jabber. Anyone who had an account that was not a Gmail account, I was able to bring over to the new ejabberd instance with no troubles. Gmail was the pain, not Jabber.

    Regarding your comment about whether or not Jabber is ready for the mainstream, of course it is. It's further ahead than any of the other protocols.

    According to Wikipedia, here are the number of users:
    AIM: 53 million
    Jabber: 50 million
    MSN: 27 million
    Yahoo: 22 million
    ICQ: 4 million

    Jabber is "just not there yet"? Heh, I think you need to give it a try. I personally would recommend staying away from Google Talk, however, as it's proprietary invite system is problematic, not Jabber itself. Rather, get a account. It has all the features, and it's a stable server, not going anywhere.

    Now, a challenge for you: on your next comment, can you avoid the name calling and aggressive nature? Also, keep the cursing out of your comments. Thanks.

  3. Anil Doshi | May 10, 2007 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Switching formats is an interesting question. I would argue that most people don't have the "principal" of a certain format. They use what is ubiquitous. That gives the advantage to the incumbent and that is especially relevant with formats relating to documents (.doc), music (.mp3), etc.

    I for one am a fan of open standards when it solves a problem. Jabber solves a specific problem: other chat protocols are proprietary and you can't chat with someone on Yahoo from AOL. That's annoying. So an open protocol makes sense.

    But for something like documents, there is no real disruption, is there? You can share a .doc by printing a PDF. Or if you want that person to edit, who doesn't have Word these days? And if you don't have Word, why can't you just open the .doc with OpenOffice? It doesn't seem to solve a "real world" problem.

    So while there are people of principal that adopt based on what they think is right, I think there might not be as much practical benefit to propel a mass conversion to other open formats.

    I mean--does the iPod or iTunes even support Ogg Vorbis? 🙂

  4. Aaron | May 10, 2007 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Anil- You're right. Dead on right. Ultimately, instant messaging, documents, etc., all all just tools that are a means to an end. Getting your documents written and presented, listening to music and chatting with your family and friends are the ultimate goals.

    However, what most don't realize, and I hope to educate through this blog, is that there are consequences to choosing proprietary standards over open ones. For example, .doc format. While opening, saving, editing and printing this format in is transparent, the OOo developers rely on updates and security fixes from Microsoft to present it in the application suite. If Microsoft decides to switch gears, which they have, or drop the format all together, then where do you turn for support when a document, or the application, fails on some level? Ultimately, you are stuck in vendor lock-in, and rely on that vendor for everything. Format and application. This is bad.

    Consider Massachusetts, and since, many other states. Massachusetts has announced that all state and lower-level government documents and publications will be stored in the Open Document Format. The reason is about usability, and becoming free from the vendor lock-in. ODF can be opened in any text editor, by uncompressing the document, and viewing the XML. By being an open standard, many applications are supporting it, and it's easy to implement if not already. Thus, the need for relying on a vendor for the format, and the ability to manipulate the documents is obliterated. And, the guarantee that the document will always be usable is imminent as ODF is stored in plain text, and not a binary blob such as the Microsoft formats.

    In the terms of MP3 versus Ogg Vorbis. Both are patented technologies. Both are a means to an end. However, one is a patented royalty-based protocol, and the other in non-royalty-based. One is proprietary, the other Free Software. What does this mean? Well, in the United States, you have to pay a royalty to the MP3 patent owners every time you encode an audio track to MP3. This fee can come in the price of the operating system that you paid for, or in the application that you pay for. However, you are still paying the royalty. With Ogg Vorbis, no royalty is needed, thus encoding can be freely distributed in any application. This makes the nature of the protocol more attractive than MP3. As far as answering your question about whether the iPod or iTunes supports Ogg Vorbis, the answer is yes and no- no, it does not natively, yes, you can replace the firmware in the iPod, and there are other iTunes-like apps that support Ogg Vorbis, and the iPod natively. Surprise- they're Free Software! 🙂

  5. Jason | May 10, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    SIP/IAX2 for VoIP, not Jingle ;).
    Jingle (for now) means vendor lock in (Google). Not to mention software/network lock in (Jabber only).

    SIP is VoIP, pure and simple. Jingle is a great solution to the user-to-user voice problem (that problem being Skype and absolute vendor lock in), however it does not fix the grand scheme of things.

    I use SIP for now, and once more authors adopt it, I'll be more astute to Jingle.
    (There's also an upcoming SIPJingle bridge, so the point may be totally moot soon.)

  6. Sak | May 10, 2007 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I recently switched to Jabber and hardly use the other protocols anymore (although I did use my GMail account, I'll have to reconsider considering what you went through). Still trying to get friends / family to switch as well so I can use it more. I don't think that's selfish - I'm not forcing them, simply educating on the nature of open protocols and their benefits, and hoping they'll see things the way I did and switch.

    As far as Ogg Vorbis goes, as much as I'd love to completely switch to that format, there are currently no aftermarket CD players for cars that play Vorbis. I burn all my music to a CDRW and take it with me on the road, wouldn't be able to do that currently while only using the OGG format. If you know of any solutions, I'd be glad to hear them.

  7. P | May 10, 2007 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    First thing first, teh 2nd comment is not from Pierrot, isn't his fault 🙂
    I didn't recognize pita is _that _much a cursing, sorry for that. Never saw that kind of thing censored in comments yet, but its your call of course:)
    Plus, I didn't mean it to be of "agressive nature", I simply highlighted some of the problems that keep me (and probably more) back from using it.
    I took the time to comment, and meant to be informative, more than "agressive" or "cursing". Name calling: I'm sorry? Well doesn't really matter, again, just trying to visualize a problem or two with it, nothing more..

    I still find it unacceptable to have this kind of a problem with changing servers, however I'm quite sure there will be a 2.0 spec to implement contact list import or something like that, I don't expect anything less in the long/middle term, because we (free/open source) are just better.

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