It’s interesting to me that there are so many people stuck in the Microsoft Office upgrade quest. For those not familiar, it’s the quest that many Windows users must endure to stay sane and keep their documents in tact. This of course is due to the proprietary nature of Office, and it’s document format (for our purposes we’ll call it .why). Reverse engineering the .why document format has made quite a lot of ground, and for the most part Free software applications have been able to provide a suitable export and import of the .why format. However, one important point to know is that as soon as Microsoft decides to change the .why format, even slightly in some new release of Office, all of the Free software that I choose to use will not be compatible.
In a document titled We Can Put an End to Word Attachments, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and of the GNU project, talks about some of these exact problems and asks that people stop assuming that everyone in the world wants to use proprietary non-free software. I happen to agree.
So, that brings me to the title of this post, “% UN-Equal Oppurtunity Employer.” Recently, I’ve been scouring the web, looking to help someone find a job, and yesterday I happened to stumble on to a listing, where the employer demanded that electonic resumes be sent in the .why format. Why is this bad? Well, aside from all the other reasons listed earlier, it’s bad because that job-hunter must do 1 of 3 things which is not true to who he is: He must either:
Comply with the request, and hope that his resume (and probably cover letter) are exported correctly to the .why format.
Comply with the request, and sacrifice his beliefs by buying proprietary software, which is guaranteed to be compatible with all prior versions of Microsoft Office. (i.e. Microsoft Office).
Send his resume in a different file format, and hope that the employer will read his reasons for not using the .why format.
Now, Action 1, might sound like the best idea, but there are no guarantees that the reciever’s version of Microsoft Office will read the file correctly, and the employer could get the wrong picture of the candidate.
Action 2, is just out of the question, as it takes away his freedom.
Action 3 is just right, and I hope that employers really do have an open mind, and realize that there are a whole group of really good software developers out there against proprietary software. That way, when I go looking for a new job, I don’t run into this same kind of thing.