Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)
Monday, April 07 2008 @ 12:02 PM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Updated again 4/9: The International Herald Tribune now has a story here, which begins:
Roughly 60 data experts staged a rare and noisy street demonstration in downtown Oslo on Wednesday to protest the adoption of Microsoft Corp.'s document format as an international standard and against Norway voting for the move.And also the first video is available here.
Updated 4/9: Aslam Raffee has posted two pictures and some brief notes on the Oslo protest. You can find the full text here and here. Many more pictures are here and here. From the pictures, it appears that they had a large and enthusiastic turnout, and press coverage as well. Geir Isene has now also posted a blog entry, with the full text of Demonstration Convenor Steven Pepper's speech here. Here are some excerpts from Pepper's speech:
Friends, Bloggers, Free Coders, Supporters of Open Standards!
We are not here today in order to bash Microsoft.
–We are here because we believe in open standards.
We are not even here today because we are opposed to OOXML.
–We are here because we are opposed to OOXML as an ISO standard.
We are not here because we want to discredit the ISO.
We are here because we want to defend ISO’s integrity.
–We are here because we want to draw attention to the scandalous behaviour of the people in Standard Norway whose job it is to represent Norwegian users and software vendors.
And we are here because we want to prevent the adoption of a damaging IT standard in Norway....
Documents are like hair dryers. We want to be able to plug them in to any piece of software and be able to work with them. But that’s not how it is today. If you create a document in Microsoft Word and send it to someone else, that person cannot use it unless they also have Microsoft Word.
I believe that is wrong.
People should not have to pay money to Microsoft in order to read my documents. The way things are at the moment, Microsoft effectively has control of the documents you and I create.
That’’s not how it should be....
We are not against ISO either. What we are against is the way in which what has always been an open and democratic organization, where each country has one vote, has been subverted by a large multinational corporation....
Microsoft now says that it now believes in open standards. They need to understand that it will take time before everyone really trusts them. They have to start showing less arrogance and more humility, and they have to prove in practice that they mean what they say.
They can take the first step by admitting that they were wrong not to support ODF.
I call on Microsoft to admit its mistake in trying to force OOXML through ISO’s fast track procedure, and I call on them to support ODF.
I call on Ecma to withdraw OOXML from ISO and keep control of it themselves. We need it for legacy documents.
I call on Standard Norway to admit that it was wrong to overrule its own committee of experts and on them to change Norway’s vote from Yes to No.
I call on the Norwegian Government to stand firm against Microsoft and not to approve OOXML as a Norwegian standard.
Finally I call on users all around the world to look to Norway and follow the example we have set. Raise a storm of protest! Uncover the irregularities that have taken place in your country! Insist that your Governments change their vote to reflect the interests of ordinary people and not the interests of monopolists and bureaucrats.
Kjære nordmenn, vi er ikke alene. Dear Norwegians, we are not alone....
Microsoft thinks it has won this battle, but I say it’s not over yet.
It’’s never over until the fat lady sings, and this fat lady only just got started.
It is with an eerie, but rejuvenating, sense of deja vu that I just received word of what may be the first public demonstration in support of open standards. And what could be more of a ratification of the concept of Civil ICT Standards than the news that ordinary citizens are taking to the streets in their defense?
The details come from Geir Isene, who you may recall from this prior entry was part of the Standards Norge OOXML mirror committee that overwhelmingly voted to disapprove OOXML, only to be overruled by Standards Norge officials (who voted to approve). He later reported that committee chair Steve Pepper filed a protest with ISO over that vote (Standards Norge released an explanation of its action that you can find here). Now, Geir reports that Pepper is calling for a public demonstration to protest the Norwegian vote. The demo will be held on Wednesday when SC34, the same ISO committee that had responsibility for considering OOXML, will conveniently hold a meeting in Oslo. [Updated: Alex Brown, in a comment below, reminds me that SC 34 is the committee of NB members with expertise and interest in document format standards that would normally review and improve document formats - as they did with ODF - had OOXML not been introduced through the Fast Track process.]
Having grown up in the era of civil rights and anti-(Vietnam) war demonstrations, I can't help thinking it will be significant if any meaningful number of people respond to his call, bringing the same energy and commitment to the exercise of their civil rights on line that they have brought to bear to defend those same rights in pre-virtual days.
Here are a few of the details, as told by Geir:
The demonstration will take place outside Håndverkeren, Rosenkrantzgate 7, Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday April 9 at 12.00. Among the slogans are:
* No to ISO approval of OOXML!
* Defend the integrity of ISO!
* Microsoft: Support ODF!
* Ecma: Withdraw OOXML!
* Norway must say no to OOXML!
...“I call on all those opposed to ISO’s approval of OOXML to join this demonstration”, says Steve Pepper. “Standard Norway defends its scandalous act by pointing to 37 identical letters that were formulated by Microsoft and sent to Standard Norway by Microsoft’s partners and customers during the open hearing.”
“If they want numbers, we can give them numbers. Join me on the street and show your disapproval. Please pass this message on around the globe. Let’s use *our* technology for everything it is worth.”
I certainly hope that there will be not only pictures, but video as well. If there is a big turn out and news spreads, this will represent a new dimension in the recognition of the important role that standards can play in society, and of the importance of becoming involved to make sure that the process whereby they are created is truly open, transparent and inclusive.
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