Consortiuminfo.org Consortium Standards Bulletin- October 2005
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WSIS

We cannot stand idly by as some governments seek to make the Internet an instrument of censorship and political suppression  [October 19, 2005]

 

Senator Norm Coleman (R., Minn), on the prospect of the U.S. losing control of the Internet Root Directory...Full Story

   

In attempting to act as an advocate for developing nations, the EU has instead done little more than compromise its own common sense  [October 23, 2005]

  Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President, Harris Miller...Full Story
   
The United Nations will not be in charge of the Internet. Period  [September 30, 2005]
  U.S. Ambassador David Gross, addressing calls for ICANN to relinquish control of the Root Directory...Full Story
   
A directory system for the internet that wouldn't be controlled by the politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats  [October 14, 2005]
  Internet domain name system inventor Paul Mockapetris, when asked what else he wished he could have invented...Full Story
   

Battle lines are being drawn: In the run-up to the November WSIS meeting in Tunis that will conclude the originally scheduled process envisioned by the UN, the question of "Who shall govern the Internet?" has reached the halls of Congress, especially since the EU (the last vocal ally of the U.S. on the question) deserted the U.S. camp at PrepCon3, the last preparatory meeting prior to the Tunis conclave. At issue is the control of the root directory of the Internet, currently under the direction of ICANN, which is under the control of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Now, senators and congressmen from both parties are standing up to say that only the U.S. can be trusted to prevent censorship or other free speech violations on the Internet. The rest of the world, not surprisingly, has a different opinion.

Washington demands Internet status quo
By: John Blau
ITWorld.com, October 19, 2005 -- Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are speaking out against efforts by several countries participating in United Nations-sponsored talks to force the U.S. to relinquish control over key Internet functions. The most recent critic is Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota. Earlier this week, Coleman submitted a resolution aimed at protecting control of the Internet, in particular the domain name and addressing system, from being transferred to the U.N. ...Full Story

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A voice of reason: If the whole, unending string of "Who should govern the Internet?" stories that have littered the Web (and this news portal) for the last year has left you glassy-eyed and not quite sure what the dispute is really all about, then this piece is for you. Blogger Kevin Murphy gives an excellent overview of how ICANN works, what types of actions it can take, and a recent example of an action its U.S. overseer, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration asked ICANN not to take at the behest of a conservative action group. A good, clear, and informative piece of writing.

CBRO Editor's Blog [The Skinny on Internet Governance]
By:  Kevin Murphy
Computer Business Review Online October 14, 2005 -- Paul Mockapetris, who invented the internet’s domain name system, was asked a few years ago what else he wished he could have invented. He answered: “A directory system for the internet that wouldn't be controlled by the politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats.” Tough luck, Paul. Not only is the DNS controlled by politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats, but politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats from all over the world have been spending vast amounts of time and effort arguing over which politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats should control it in future. ...Full Story

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There's more to WSIS than just the root directory:  Meanwhile, although one might not know it from the fact that 95% of all articles about WSIS seem to relate to only two stories (the other is the poor track record of Tunis when it comes to free speech, including the rights of journalists), those involved in the WSIS process have been paying attention to other important topics as well, such as advancing the credibility and use of open source and open standards.

Open Source Agreed In UN Information Society Summit Preparations
Intellectual Property Watch, October 10, 2005 -- Encouragement for the use of free and open source software and open standards for science and technology has quietly worked its way into the draft texts being prepared for the November second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Such ideas have gained significant support in recent years as potentially low-cost, easy-access solutions for developing countries, but as they are put forward in the WSIS context they are balanced by stronger calls for proprietary approaches. The draft WSIS texts are lengthy and detailed, and intellectual property (IP) issues play a comparatively small role overall, but the stakes are high enough to draw top government IP officials and industry lobbyists to the meetings. ...Full Story

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Intellectual Property Issues

The world has learned that you don't mess with the Internet, the Web, or anything crucial to its operation [October 21, 2005]

 

Andrew Updegrove, a partner at Gesmer Updegrove...Full Story


A disturbance in the force:  Few types of news reverberate throughout the technology galaxy like a patent threat to the royalty and license-free nature of the Internet or the Web.  When such news does occur – such as the initially successful effort of tiny Eolas to assert a patent against a feature of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser that utilizes a W3C standard – mighty is the response (see Patents:  Too Easy to Get, Too Hard to Challenge?).  This month, another shock wave was felt when yet another small company, called Scientigo, announced that it intended to "monetize" two patents at the expense of those that use XML.

Small company makes big claims on XML patents
Martin LaMonica
ZDNet.com October 21, 2005 -- A small software developer plans to seek royalties from companies that use XML, the latest example of patent claims embroiling the tech industry. Charlotte, N.C.-based Scientigo owns two patents (No. 5,842,213 and No. 6,393,426) covering the transfer of "data in neutral forms." These patents, one of which was applied for in 1997, are infringed upon by the data-formatting standard XML, Scientigo executives assert. Scientigo intends to "monetize" this intellectual property, Scientigo CEO Doyal Bryant said this week. ...Full Story

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Semantic Web

Are we there yet? In June I dedicated the entire issue of the Consortium Standards Bulletin to The Future of the Web. That issue included an extensive interview with Tim Berners-Lee, during which I asked what it would take to jumpstart support of the Semantic Web (i.e., adoption by Google?) Berners-Lee said at that time that there were a number of projects that companies had in the works that he could not yet discuss. Is the Google project described in the first piece below one of them?   In another sign of momentum and confidence, OASIS kicked off a new technical committee to pursue a project to support Semantic Web services, combining work in two hot standards areas in one effort.

Google May Take on eBay
RedHerring.com October 26, 2005
 Google on Tuesday appeared close to launching a service called Google Base that would pit the search giant against eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist by allowing users to list everything from used cars to real estate.... By hosting everything from articles on current events, to used car listings, to scientific data, Google could be taking a step toward building the “Semantic Web” pushed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and other computer scientists. The Semantic Web moves toward one that uses XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to describe the meaning of information rather than simply what it should look like on a web page. ...Full Story

OASIS Issues Call for Participation for New Semantic Execution
OASIS, October 18, 2005 -- This week, the Consortium announced the formation of the OASIS Semantic Execution Environment (SEE) TC. The aim of the TC will be to provide guidelines, justifications and implementation directions for an execution environment for Semantic Web services. The work of this committee will be relevant to parties interested in Web services and SOA. The inaugural meeting will be sponsored by DERI and will be held via telephone on 11 Nov. ...Full Story

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Ready to Rock and Roll: This is a first for the News Portal: a product announcement. Why are we breaking with our usual policy and including a manufacturer's press release touting their new product? Because it means that the Semantic Web is becoming more real, with ISVs creating products that they believe people want to buy to create Semantic Web documents. It will be interesting to see how this new product sells.

Altova Reveals Ground-Breaking Semantic Web Development Tool
Business Wire, October 4, 2005 -- Altova(R) (www.altova.com), creator of XMLSpy(R) and other leading XML, data management, UML, and Web services tools, today announced… Altova SemanticWorks(TM) 2006,… a visual Semantic Web development tool with support for Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL) creation and editing….Altova created SemanticWorks to help customers learn and work with emerging Semantic Web technologies in an intuitive way….Altova SemanticWorks allows developers to graphically create and edit RDF instance documents, RDF Schema (RDFS) vocabularies, and OWL ontologies with full syntax checking. ...Full Story

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Wireless

What we have here is a group of silicon companies who want to try to force the standard to be what they are already trying to build  [October 10, 2005]

 

Greg Raleigh, CEO of Airgo, objecting to the current tactics of the newly formed EWC...Full Story

And then there were three: A long-building log jam in the IEEE working group that is developing the 100 Mbit/sec+ WLAN standard broke recently, but not through a compromise between WWiSE and TGn Sync, the two rival groups that have been facing off for months, even though companies like Broadcom had forecast just such a resolution as recently as October 3. Instead, there was an announcement only a few days later that a new group of two dozen companies had been formed (including guess who -- Broadcom) called the Enhanced Wireless Consortium. The new group includes many other heavyweights as well, such as Cisco, Intel, and Aptheros, but pointedly excludes Airgo Networks, Inc., a leading chip vendor. Ostensibly, the new group was formed to put pressure on the IEEE working group to achieve a compromise agreement on the new proposal -- but the group also threatened to go directly to market with compliant products anyway if IEEE adoption did not occur. Given that all standard setting is consensual, it is not a good omen when those within a process strike out on their own -- especially if they are successful, except to the extent that it leads to greater efforts to reach a compromise solution the next time around.

Wireless LAN Group Offers Spec
By: Stephen Lawson
PCWorld, October 18, 2005 -- The Enhanced Wireless Consortium (EWC) has published its draft specification for high-speed wireless LANs on its Web site, the group has announced. The group went public on last week saying its members had developed a compromise draft specification to help speed development of the IEEE 802.11n standard. The EWC includes some of the biggest players in wireless LANs, such as Intel, Broadcom, Atheros Communications, and Cisco Systems. ...Full Story

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Or they could just save weight and leave them home: Congress has just set the dates for the switchover to digital TV -- and for auctioning off the recovered spectra that could reap as much as $10 billion for the federal government. But it hasn’t given any thought to requiring that those that pick up those spectra use them to deploy services using international standards, leaving open the prospect for yet another disjunction between U.S. wireless devices (U.S. devices from cell phones to pet identification RFID tags are already out of synch) not to work when they go abroad. Just another example of the too-often poor coordination when it comes to those things that lie within the control of government and those that arise from private sector actions -- but involve us all.

Senate Sets Spectrum Standard
RedHerring.com October 22, 2005 A U.S. Senate committee set a final deadline for the switchover of television broadcasters from analog to digital services, and also set a date for the auction of crucial recovered spectrum. There will be a wide range of interest in the spectrum from the mobile voice, mobile data, and wireless broadband industries. [Consultant] Mr. Nordgaard believes that the international implications of the digital switchover and the reuse of spectrum have, surprisingly, not been raised. “Users will want to be able to use their wireless broadband equipment abroad,” he said. “If the U.S. uses spectrum A, and Europe uses spectrum B, then having a roaming device becomes more costly.” ...Full Story

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Government and Regulation

The FCC must be prepared to take steps to assure continuity of service to consumers in the event that the parties fail to reach an agreement  [October 10, 2005]

 

US Rep. Edward J. Markey, ranking member of the House Telecom Subcommittee, commenting on Internet disruption caused by a dispute between two ISPs...Full Story

   

My goal is to do all of the work it takes to be explaining to the Supreme Court in 2025 why broadcasting is unconstitutional [October 18, 2005]

 

Open source advocate Ebon Moglen, on why the FCC should not be allowed to prohibit open source "mesh" broadcasting by hackers

 

Is you is, or is you ain't a utility? For a long time I've wondered when government would decide that the Internet must be treated like a utility. Recently, a major ISP had the bright idea that it should make the U.S. government ask itself that same question. Utilities are essential services that governments regulate in order to protect the public. For example, many laws protect consumers from having their heat or water cut off suddenly for non-payment of bills. As more and more of our lives, finances, home systems and everything else become controlled via the Internet, can its "utilitization" be far off? Where, when, and especially how that happens will be an interesting and contentious process.

Dispute threatens to snarl Internet
By:  Hiawatha Bray
BostonGlobe.com October 10, 2005` Internet connections could be disrupted for millions of people in Europe and North America as the result of a pricing spat between the world's two major service providers, raising concerns about who governs the global communications network and how it should be regulated. On Wednesday, the Internet service provider Level 3 Communications Inc. of Broomfield, Colo., broke its connections with a major competitor, Cogent Communications Group Inc. of Washington, D.C., effectively throwing up roadblocks for some e-mail communication and access to websites. ...Full Story

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So long, we hardly need ye?  Meanwhile, Columbia Law Professor and open source advocate Ebon Moglen thinks that it's a hacker's constitutional right to broadcast via open source software, and the FCC better not get in the way.

Does Open-Source Software Make the FCC Irrelevant?
By: Daniel Fisher
Forbes.com, October 19, 2005 -- Columbia Law School Professor Eben Moglen wants to destroy the Federal Communications Commission. Not as some kind of terrorist act, but because technology is rapidly making it irrelevant. The agency might have made sense in the 1920s, Moglen says, when it was formed to assign specific frequencies to broadcasters so they wouldn't try to drown each other out by cranking up the transmitter power. ...Full Story

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Story Updates

If somebody robs the same bank you do, are you still guilty? The tangled tale of Rambus took yet another twist this month as Rambus sought to gain access to documents that it claims will prove that it was the victim of a price fixing conspiracy. There's no question that there was misconduct among several SDRAM companies, since they've already been hit with enormous fines for their deeds (see the second item below for an example of one of the large fines paid). What Rambus wants to show, however, is that their misconduct should excuse its own actions, which remain the subject of an FTC proceeding. According to an opposition filed by the FTC in an attempt to prevent Rambus from gaining access to the documents it seeks,  the chip technology company's efforts are simply an attempt to "deflect attention from its own conduct by blaming third parties."

Rambus and a Price-Fixing Tale
Arik Hesseldahl
BusinessWeek.com October 30, 2005 It's a matter of public record that at least three companies participated in a global conspiracy to manipulate the prices of computer memory chips. The U.S. Justice Dept. settled the issue by handing down more than $600 million in fines against the businesses. What isn't known, though, is why they did it. And Rambus, a designer of chip technology, is intent on finding out. Rambus on Oct. 31 will urge a California Superior Court in San Francisco to release documents it says will help in that pursuit. ...Full Story


Samsung Electronics to Pay $300 Mln for Price-Fixing (Update1)
Bloomberg.com, October 13, 2005 -- Samsung Electronics Co. agreed to pay $300 million, the second largest criminal antitrust fine in U.S. history, to settle charges it took part in a global scheme to fix the price of computer chips used in personal computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. South Korea-based Samsung, the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, and its U.S. unit will plead guilty to conspiring to fix the prices for dynamic random access memory chips, a $7.7 billion market in the U.S. last year. They are also used to make printers, video recorders, game consoles and digital cameras. ...Full Story

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No compromise, but many prisoners: The consumer electronics industry's longest running chicken fight seems destined to end up with a consumer smashup, with both sides committed not to blink, even at the last minute, despite pleas from companies like HP, as reported below. How likely is HP to succeed? Well, the same day, Warner Bros became the second major studio (after Paramount) to announce that it would support both formats. But that doesn't mean supporting both standards on one disk - that would require a compromise between the two rival format groups. So here we go again, headed towards content vendors having to produce two product lines, video shops having to stock duplicate versions of the same movies -- and you flipping a coin to decide which format your next player should support, without knowing which will be the winner, and which will eventually be the loser. Thanks guys!

HP Tries To Bridge Blu-ray, HD-DVD Formats
By:  Spencer Chin
EE Times October 21, 2005 In the latest attempt to unify the divergent Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD optical disk formats, Hewlett-Packard Corp. has formally appealed to the Blu-ray Disc Association to incorporate two key technologies in the format. So far, the Blu-ray and HD-DVD camps have succeeded mostly in polarizing entire industries along separate camps. ...Full Story

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Open Document

OpenOffice.org is on a path toward being the most popular office suite the world has ever seen  [October 21, 2005]

 

Sun Microsystems President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz, on the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0...Full Story

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Downloadable to a computer near you: After a last minute delay, OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released to much fanfare from OOo fans and the press. As of October 4, over 47 million computer users had downloaded copies of earlier versions of OpenOffice.org's free, open source version of the OpenOffice office suite. OOo community development manager Louis Suarez-Potts estimates that with the release of 2.0, this number will rapidly rise to over 100 million. (To get your own local language copy of OOo 2.0, simply visit the OpenOffice 2.0 download page.)  Meanwhile, as the quote above and the second story below indicate, Sun is doing everything in its power to give OpenDocument compliant products a boost against Microsoft Office – even at the expense of its own OpenDocument format compliant office suite (StarOffice 8.0) which, as reported in the third item below, was the first compliant version to reach the marketplace.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 Is Here
OpenOffice.org October 21, 2005 OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the productivity suite that individuals, governments, and corporations around the world have been expecting for the last two years. Easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 realizes the potential of open source. Besides a powerful new database module and advanced XML capabilities, OpenOffice.org natively supports the internationally standardised OpenDocument format, which several countries, as well as the U.S. state of Massachusetts, have established as the default for office documents. More than any other suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 gives users around the globe the tools to be engaged and productive members of their society. Available in 36 languages, with more on the way, and able to run natively on Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Mac OS X (X11) and several other platforms, OpenOffice.org banishes software segregation and isolation and dramatically levels the playing field. And, with its support for the OASIS Standard OpenDocument format, OpenOffice.org eliminates the fear of vendor lock in or format obsolescence. The OpenDocument format can be used by any office application, ensuring that documents can be viewed, edited and printed for generations to come. ...Full Story

Sun puts patent weight behind OpenDocument
Tom Sanders
VNUnet.com October 4, 2005 -- Sun Microsystems has promised not to enforce any of its patents covering the OpenDocument format. The Oasis Open Document Format for Office Applications is a standard backed by Adobe, IBM and Sun....Sun's patent support for OpenDocument is different from a move the company made earlier this year, in which it pledged 1,670 patents in support of any software governed by the open source Common Development and Distribution Licence.Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open source officer, said: "Previous attempts at patent protection using the 'patent commons' approach glorify patents, forcing anyone who would benefit from the apparent protection to become a patent expert. A blanket statement like this just says: 'no need to look, you're safe.'" ...Full Story

Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 8 Provides A Suite Alternative
By: Sean Doherty
InformationWeek, October 9, 2005 -- How do you compete against Microsoft in the office- productivity software market? You could give up, like WordPerfect did long ago. Or you could try harder, as Sun has done. Sun Microsystem's StarOffice 8 Office Suite gives users a similar word- and number-crunching experience to Microsoft Office, but adheres to open standards, runs on Linux and Solaris (as well as Windows), and costs less than $100. ...Full Story

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Who's Doing What to Whom?

Ultimately, there has to be one open standard. Not a couple of them,"  [October 25, 2005]

 

Punk, Ziegel & Co. analyst Steve Berg...Full Story

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"Fat access?" I'm sure we said "Thin access:" As anyone who has spent any time in standard setting knows, the opinions on one proposal over another of those actually involved in the process at hand often involve (how to say this in a non-judgmental away) more than just technical superiority. The following story involving a slow-moving standard at the IETF demonstrates not only that individual companies can and do push for results based on more than technical excellence, but that if the standards process drags on long enough, the same companies can come late to the realization that an opposing camp's proposal looks pretty good after all (usually just after their own product strategy has changed.)

LWAPP wireless standard back from the dead
By: Peter Judge
Techworld October 22, 2005 The lightweight access point protocol (LWAPP) is back from the dead. It is now the leading proposal for multi-vendor wireless LANs, according to an IETF standards group. In 2003, network managers wanting a wireless LAN to cover their building were offered wireless switches as an alternative to stringing together standalone access points. The switches were often criticised because the "thin" or "dumb" access points they used were proprietary. ...Full Story

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BioIT

I3C is dead; long live HUPA:  One of the areas outside ITC that has begun to adopt consortium type processes is biotechnology.  This is not surprising, since BioIT is a heavy user of IT technology, because some of the challenges it faces can be best addressed through consensus activities (e.g., genomic development), and because of its academic roots.  The first item below reports on one example of an IT standard created by and for biotech use.  But while bioIT standards activities continue to move ahead strongly in other venues as well, such as the W3C, HL7 (Health Level Seven) and CDISC, it appears that the I3C has quietly died in the dark, apparently the result of the Semantic Web's potential to better solve the problems which the I3C was originally created to address.

Report from HUPO 2005 Munich
By: Sandra Orchard, Henning Hermjakob, and Rolf Apweiler
BioITWorld.com, October 4, 2005 -- The Proteomics Standards Initiative session of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) 2005 congress was opened by the current chair, Rolf Apweiler of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory - European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), who summarized the achievements of the HUPO Proteomics Standards Initiative (HUPO-PSI) to date. The Molecular Interaction XML interchange standard is already widely used, and all of the major publicly available databases now make data available in this format [1]. Five of these databases -- BIND, DIP, IntAct, MINT, and MPact (MIPS) -- have formed the International Molecular Exchange consortium to jointly curate and exchange data, with data exchange commencing early in 2006. ...Full Story


I3C: Missing in Action
By Salvatore Salamone

Bio-IT World, October 28, 2005 -- 
Sometime within the last year, the Interoperable Informatics Infrastructure Consortium (I3C) quietly disappeared. Sadly, perhaps, almost nobody noticed.  Researchers and vendors launched the I3C with the noble goal of developing interoperability standards for the life sciences that would make it easier to access, exchange, and share data….So why did the I3C just vanish with so little fanfare? Opinions among some of the I3C founding members vary, but the consensus is that the work of the I3C is being carried out today in other standards bodies. ...Full Story

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Standards are Serious (Aren't They?)

Department of "Huh?"/Quote of the Month: 

In an open-standards environment, the interfaces are stable and it promotes collaboration and interoperability, whereas open source is just like a bunch of kittens tied together with rubber bands [that] move off in sort of many different positions  [October 19, 2005]

 

Nevada CIO Ted Savage, explaining open source software...Full Story

 

 

 

 
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