The danger and costs of proprietary file formats
Historically, it has always been a hassle and expensive to maintain access to old legacy data. Sure, there are problems with media: nine track tapes go bad, the organic die in CDRs fades causing errors, etc.
The problem is so much worse now because people unthinkingly (did I just make up a new word :-) store vital corporate data in proprietary file formats. A good example (but there are many) is the frequenty changing Microsoft Word file formats. As a Microsoft stock holder far be it for me to unfairly criticize Microsoft for changing file formats to force people to upgrade to new versions of products that they do not need to do their work (but as a stock holder, I would like to tell them to
It does not take much imagination to picture scenarios where organizations no longer have the required software to read proprietary file formats - producing diasterous results.
Like most people, I am very concerned with government spending: I would like to see our government be as efficient as possible. I would like to see legislation passed in the U.S. that would prohibit the government from using any business related software that did not support an export to archive XML option. I would like to see mandated practices in government to call for saving to this easily readable format.
As per a recent web blog, the implementation of a real Semantic Web would both standardize information technology document formats (various XML applications) and penalize companies who don't play fair and refuse to use standards in document storage.