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Yes, Network Effects Are a Problem for Open Formats

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - As we know, lock-in is one of the biggest obstacles to moving from closed, proprietary formats, to open ones. But so far as I know, no one has tried to quantify the extent to which people cling to old formats. That makes the following piece of research useful, at least as a first stab at finding out what is really going on:

we analysed a corpus of over 2.5 billion resources corresponding to the UK Web domain, as crawled between 1996 and 2010. Using the DROID and Apache Tika identification tools, we examined each resource and captured the results as extended MIME types, embedding version, software and hardware identifiers alongside the format information. The combined results form a detailed temporal format profile of the corpus, which we have made available as open data. We present the results of our initial analysis of this dataset. We look at image, HTML and PDF resources in some detail, showing how the usage of different formats, versions and software implementations has changed over time.

The key question was as follows: