[od-discuss] A harmonised Open Format definition

Stephen Gates stephen.gates at me.com
Wed Apr 22 06:09:48 UTC 2015

Hi Andrew and Aaron,
Thanks for your feedback. 
If I can summarise:
·         The Open Definition covers more than just data, hence the definition of Open Format needs to address all types of works, not just data.
·         Data may be open according to the 5 star scheme but it is not convenient to use (e.g. a pdf of a budget). 
·         We must encourage publishers to use formats that simplify reuse.

I also noticed that 1.2 Access mentions the work “shall be available as a whole” and “downloadable”.  By adding “in bulk” you can remove the requirement from section 1.3. I’m not clear on the strength of “shall” here. W3C states:

The key words must, must not, required, should, should not, recommended, may, and optional in this specification are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].
Lastly I found some best practices on selecting file formats for academic research.

Below is my attempt to address these concerns.
1.2 Access
The work must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost, preferably downloadable in bulk via the Internet without charge. Any additional information necessary for license compliance (such as names of contributors required for compliance with attribution requirements) must also accompany the work.
1.3 Open Format 
The work must be distributed in an open format that is appropriate for its media type to maximise the opportunity for reuse. An open format is one that allows the work to be fully performed or processed with no restriction.

An open format must:
·         have no restrictions, monetary or otherwise, upon its use.
·         be machine-readable and able to be fully processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool.

An open format should:
·         be documented so it can be freely implemented by others.
·         be defined through a fair, transparent and collaborative process.
·         be widely used and accepted as best practice within your discipline or other user communities.
·         be lossless and uncompressed so all the original detail is retained.

Open Format definition page 
·         The rationale behind our carefully choosen words e.g.
·         Describe comformant Open Formats for Data, Image, Text, Font, Music, Video, …


Stephen Gates 

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