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Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)

OpenDocument and OOXML
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.


For further blog entries on ODF and OOXML, click here

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Standards to the People! (Updated Twice) | 172 comments | Create New Account
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Standards to the People!
Authored by: Alex Brown on Monday, April 07 2008 @ 01:29 PM CDT

> SC34, the same ISO committee that had responsibility for considering OOXML

Except, err, it wasn't. You may remember OOXML did not go through any committee (SC 34 or otherwise) - it used the Fast Track whereby it was considered by a large combined group of ISO and IEC members. That was/is rather the point.

SC 34 was, however, the committee through which ODF was standardised using the PAS mechanism.

Anyway, mustn't let any inconvenient facts spoil a good demo, eh?

- Alex.
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Monday, April 07 2008 @ 01:45 PM CDT
Alex,

Thanks for the reminder.  I'll correct that now.

Of course, part of the purpose of the demo will be to highlight how little having to do with OOXML happened in a way that would be best for the industry, the end user, or anyone other than Microsoft and its business partners (well, maybe its business partners).  I haven't gone back to see whether this would still be the case, but I do recall that in the vote last fall, the long-term members of SC34 - ie., the subject matter experts - voted far more heavily against OOXML than the late arrivals. 

If OOXML had taken a slow train, rather than the Fast Track, what was finally approved would very likely have been of a much higher quality, eh?

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Alex Brown on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 05:45 AM CDT
> If OOXML had taken a slow train, rather than the Fast Track, what was finally approved
> would very likely have been of a much higher quality, eh?

Too right comrade! (same for ODF too).
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 08:36 AM CDT
Alex,

I'm not sure I understand your comment on ODF.  ODF was created through a multi-year, open committee effort, and was already implemented in multiple, competing, interoperable products (both open and proprietary) before it was submitted to ISO/IEC JTC1.  Moreover, it passed unanimously, and only with comments that  were so insignificant as not to require a BRM.   This would seem to indicate that a standard that is properly prepared before submission can progress quickly, and could fulfill the original vision of allowing eligible and appropriate standards, already proven in the marketplace, to achieve swift approval.

It was also introduced under a process whose name implies its appropriateness for ODF, just as the Fast Track process indicates the inappropriateness of that method for OOXML.  The PAS in the PAS Process name, of course, indicates "publicly available specification," which is intended to allow the de jure system to consider and adopt a specification that has earned sufficient credibility and use in the marketplace to merit global recognition.  The smooth passage of ODF through the PAS process, despite its length, stands in stark contrast to the experience of OOXML, which was clearly not appropriate for "Fast Track" treatment.  Hence the popular opinion (which I share) that Microsoft took advantage of the system by submitting something that was not yet ripe for processing, and particularly not under this process.

I started to note in my original entry that the demonstration is being held almost to the day on the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.  Civil rights, I think, are quite precious, and great care needs to be taken that they are neither sacrificed nor compromised as we move on line.  Your reference to "comrades" seems to indicate a different attitude to civil rights, which, to borrow from a comment some left at my site a few weeks ago, I "deplore."

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Alex Brown on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 09:59 AM CDT
> This would seem to indicate that a standard that is properly
> prepared before submission can progress quickly

ODF passed with insufficient scrutiny, in my view (and the UK voted against the cancellation of its BRM). But that's okay - now many faults are being found; those faults will get fixed. It was a good thing to standardize ODF.

> The smooth passage of ODF through the PAS process, despite its length,
> stands in stark contrast to the experience of OOXML

There was no concerted opposition (or indeed much interest at all) within the 26300 Project; not the case for 29500 of course, and the fact the "the evil empire" was involved got a lot of people agitated.

In fact I think that PAS is even more pernicious than Fast Track, especially as embodied by the submitter agreement OASIS has with JTC 1, in which standards are expected to be passed "as is" and maintenance is kept away from ISO. That's partly why ODF has remained buggy, and stuck at version 1.0 in ISO (no other versions are international standards). Nobody's happy about that are they?

> of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

There you go again invoking something completely disproportionate! My "comrades" ties in nicely with your "Standards to the People!" headline (and besides, the socialists supported Martin Luther King).

Andy - the civil rights movement and the squabble over document markup method are in different universes of significance, surely!

- Alex.
[ # ]
  • Standards - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 03:51 PM CDT
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 01:18 PM CDT
First, a note to all:  for only the second time since I launched this blog almost three years ago, I've found it necessary to delete a comment as being incompatible with the level of respect that I'd like to see people pay to the opinions and actions of others when they offer their comments here.  Please - share your ideas, but not your emotions.

Alex,

>ODF passed with insufficient scrutiny, in my view (and the UK voted against the cancellation of its BRM). But that's okay - now many faults are being found; those faults will get >fixed. It was a good thing to standardize ODF.

That's a difficult one for me to respond to.  I never read ODF, but I did read all of the comments.  As I recall, they almost all related to things like right to left reading issues to support Middle Eastern languages.  Having raised the issue, though, it would very useful if you could give us some sense of how many faults you feel were missed.  OOXML had c. 900 substantive, and c. 200 editorial issues, by all accounts.  What would you personally estimate the complementary numbers for ODF would be? 

> The smooth passage of ODF through the PAS process, despite its length,
> stands in stark contrast to the experience of OOXML

>There was no concerted opposition (or indeed much interest at all) within the 26300 Project; not the case for 29500 of course, and the fact the "the evil empire" was involved got >a lot of people agitated.

Not having the competence to evaluate OOXML myself, I have to rely on secondary evaluations.  But whether or not it took "concerted opposition" to find the faults in OOXML, they are still faults.  The fact that opposition might have been required to surface them, it seems to me, is more an issue with whether the existing process, which relies entirely on people opting in for their own motivations, whatever they may be, is actually adequate to ensure a meaningful degree of quality control for the ISO/IEC JTC1 imprimatur to be meaningful - especially for very long specifications.

>In fact I think that PAS is even more pernicious than Fast Track, especially as embodied by the submitter agreement OASIS has with JTC 1, in which standards are expected to >be passed "as is" and maintenance is kept away from ISO. That's partly why ODF has remained buggy, and stuck at version 1.0 in ISO (no other versions are international >standards). Nobody's happy about that are they?

Last point first:  I believe that ODF 1.2 is almost done in OASIS, by the way, with new important new functionalities completed, as well as existing issues addressed.  I don't personally know what the schedule is for carrying those changes forward in ISO.

Your first issue is a more complex issue, and one that would be too detailed to enter into here.   Consortia that have spent a great deal of time on a project have a hard time turning the baby over to someone else and feeling reassured that it will be properly nurtured.  I've negotiated a few agreements with groups like IEEE and ISO, and sometimes the concerns turn out to be justified - the standard languishes, or has other problems.  One could argue both ways on whether PAS standard contributions should transfer all rights or not.  To be fair, the same issues here apply equally as between ODF/OASIS and Ecma/OOXML as regards the maintenance phase.

> of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

>There you go again invoking something completely disproportionate! My "comrades" ties in nicely with your "Standards to the People!" headline (and besides, the socialists >supported Martin Luther King).

This may be an example of one language divided by an ocean.  The title actually echoed the Black Power slogan, "All Power to the People!" rather than any similar Socialist antecedent.

>Andy - the civil rights movement and the squabble over document markup method are in different universes of significance, surely!

Two responses:  Yes, I agree that the actions at issue are quite different in gravity.  Technology discrimination and (for example) lynchings and beatings are clearly on a different plane as regards the immediate impact on individuals.  But whether or not people - poor people, for example - can access government sites with a $199 Everex, Linux-based, OpenOffice machine, or whether British students, as advocated by Becta, can round trip documents at school using cheap open source software, do impact the long term ability of the poor to get ahead.  And much more so will this be true in the third world. 

And if the poor can't access government sites, what of the freedom to petition government?  Should they have to buy from a single subset of vendors in order to do so?  This seems to me like a legitimate question.  ODF enables an ecosystem of alternative, price competitive ways to do so.  OOXML fosters a monoculture whereby you  have to buy into that culture.  While I don't think that governments should be able to compel vendors to implement certain standards for documents, neither do I think that they should encourage, through procurement, the promotion of a different standard by the monoculture vendor that refuses to support natively saving documents in ODF - although it could, with trivial effort.

If you haven't given this a read yet, give it a read, and see whether you agree more with me on the existence of the issues involved, even if we may disagree with their gravity:  http://www.consortiuminfo.org/bulletins/#feature

As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Alex Brown on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 02:49 PM CDT

> it would very useful if you could give
> us some sense of how many faults you feel were missed.  OOXML had c. 900
> substantive, and c. 200 editorial issues, by all accounts.
> What would you personally estimate the complementary numbers for ODF would be?

We do better than just estimate, I think. For 29500 most known problems were fixed at the BRM, mostly thanks to our block voting procedure. NBs will take different views but a figure I've heard from a technically impeccable source is that 30-40 of these issues remain badly unresolved from this process, but of a non-showstopper nature. However, since then the UK has found over 200 typographical errors to add to the tally. ODF 1.0 has around 100 errors reported by our esteemed Japanese NB members, ranging from the minor to the serious. They have many more "backed up" but have given up submitting them to OASIS because they are not getting fixed (tsk!).

As to the *real* number of errors, I am sure there any many thousands of undetected defects in each standard. More in 29500 than 26300, I expect, because of its extra length and relative immaturity.

Finding and reporting faults in standards is important work, because then they can get fixed! it is not a game of who's got the least errors.

>  which relies entirely on people opting in for their own motivations

That seems to me a slightly strange characterisation of standards people, though indeed many of the greatest developers and standardisers of our time have been working under their own motivation (think Murata Makoto or James Clark). NBs typically also involve professional standardisers, vendors, and representatives of government, trade bodies and other national institutions. NBs make their own arrangements that differ from country to country.
 
> Last point first:  I believe that ODF 1.2 is almost done in OASIS,
> by the way, with new important new functionalities completed, as well as
> existing issues addressed.

ODF 1.2 does indeed sound like it has some exciting new features (RDF metadata for example), and everyone hopes work can begin soon on addressing known defects too. I look forward to seeing it in time and know there is a general wish that it will become an International Standard.

> Consortia [...] have a hard time

Consortia play a completely different role to International Standards organisations, and their creations are differentiated accordingly by the various large consumers and procurers of standards and standards-based products.

> the same issues here apply equally as between ODF/OASIS and Ecma/OOXML as
> regards the maintenance phase.

I'm hoping there will be more clarity on that very shortly.

> Technology discrimination .... poor people ... ecosystem ... price competitive [etc]

ODF 1.0 is an International Standard and there are suites like OpenOffice which support it (or a later variant of it anyway). Do you think this kind of combo has good claims on the people and organisations you mention? and indeed more widely? I do.

I simply do not understand why so many ODF "advocates" have been obsessing, in a rather silly way, with OOXML rather than ... well, advocating!

- Alex.
[ # ]
  • Bias - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 10 2008 @ 04:44 AM CDT
  • Bias - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 10 2008 @ 06:37 AM CDT
At least it will cost MS a few $millions
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 03:12 PM CDT
They need to fly a few thousand folks or pay enough folks locally to provide for a "pro OOXML" rally.  Chief among the instructions will be no talking to anyone, else they say something along the lines of "OOXML, the best program ever written" or some other such blather.

TripleII
[ # ]
Standards to the People!
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Tuesday, April 08 2008 @ 03:20 PM CDT
>Finding and reporting faults in standards is important work, because then they can get fixed! it is not a game of who's got the least errors.

The reason I'm curious to know what the real figures are is that I want to be accurate with things that I say. My sense from reading your email is that ODF was "cleaner" than OOXML, but tell me if that's not an accurate perception.

>  which relies entirely on people opting in for their own motivations/ your reply:  that seems like a strange perception

Sorry - when I was referring to "people" I should have said employers (i.e., those the people represent).
 
 >Consortia play a completely different role to International Standards organisations, and their creations are differentiated accordingly by the various large consumers and >procurers of standards and standards-based products.

I think that this is not really true anymore.  Standards by organizations such as the W3C, OASIS Opengis, and many others are as broadly adopted as ISO/IEC standards.  It is often said that the ultimate proof of a standard is its adoption, and in the IT sector, the consortium world is far outrunning the ISO/IEC system.  Meaning that the quality is considered to be the equal and/or that the ISO/IEC imprimatur is not seen by most in the marketplace to be meaningful.

>ODF 1.0 is an International Standard and there are suites like OpenOffice which support it (or a later variant of it anyway). Do you think this kind of combo has good claims on the >people and organisations you mention? and indeed more widely? I do.

>I simply do not understand why so many ODF "advocates" have been obsessing, in a rather silly way, with OOXML rather than ... well, advocating!

I'm not sure if I get your meaning here; if you're saying that third world people are using LInux., OpenOffice and other free tools, the answer is yes.  And advocates are doing a great deal of advocating, and even developing (the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which loads OpenOffice and many open source programs designed by the community expressly for that purpose).  And do give my piece on Civil ICT Stndards a read - I'm advocating in it!

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Code of Conduct for This Site
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Wednesday, April 09 2008 @ 06:59 PM CDT
To Ed,

I have just deleted your comment.  This blog is now going on three years old, and I'm pleased that the comments that have been left during this time have only very rarely been of a type that I did not want to see at my site.  I will never censor opinions, but I do not wish to host comments that are personal attacks on individuals.  You and I may disagree with some of the decisions made at the BRM, but I do not question Alex's sincerity in executing his role at the BRM in the manner that he believed to be appropriate.  Nor have I talked to anyone actually at the BRM who holds a contrary opinion, no matter how much they may disagree with the outcome.

So please.  Let's keep comments to expressions of opinions on the issues, and not the individuals.  Accusations of bribery at this site will not be tolerated.  If you would like your comments to remain for all to read, please keep them on a higher plane.

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 09 2008 @ 08:59 PM CDT
<p>I've selected HTML formatted, but the preview is showing up as raw text for some reason.  I hope this shows up as HTML for everyone.  I apologize in advance if it doesn't.

<p>As I've read Alex's responses here, I keep shaking my head in wonder.  Does he truly believe that the BRM resolved everything from a technical standpoint?  What world does he inhabit where every technical expert in Norway's NB vehemently insists that the OOXML documentation was not ready and the BRM solved all outstanding technical issues?

<p>Nope, the ISO dropped the ball on this one.  IMNSHO they need a rather large dose of common sense injected into the senior leadership.

<p>By contrast, let me quote from a document which discusses how standards can be created:

<blockquote>In many ways, the XXXX runs on the beliefs of its participants. One of the "founding beliefs" is embodied in an early quote about the XXXX from David Clark: "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code". Another early quote that has become a commonly-held belief in the IETF comes from Jon Postel: "Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you accept".</blockquote>

<p>Some of you reading this blog will immediately recognize this as coming from the <a href=http://www.ietf.org/tao.html>Internet Engineering Task Force, or IETF</a>.  For those who aren't familiar with this particular organization, they are the ones responsible for creating the network protocols that make the Internet possible.  Without their work through the decades, none of what we do (including post our opinions on this blog) would be feasible.

<p>P.S.  Some of you out there may also remember that at the time that the Internet was in its infancy, the ISO had already established its own network stack.  For some time it was the only internationally recognized network stack available, yet it eventually failed to catch on.  Why that happened was more about a standard that was far too bloated in comparison to the alternative than any other reason.  I raise the point because a simple comparison between the sheer size of OOXML compared to ODF (~8000 pages to ~750, I think) would suggest a similar fate is in store for OOXML /even if/ the inevitable appeals fail.
[ # ]
Clarification on British Library Stories
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Thursday, April 10 2008 @ 06:53 AM CDT
All,

Alex Brown would like to give the facts relating to recent murmurings regarding an alleged relationship between his company and the British Library.  I've transposed them here from a comment above to make them more visible:
I know what you are referring to (my involvement with the LDAP project), as relayed by a libellous and slurring web page on the noooxml site. For the record, my involvement on the project in question is as an unpaid advisor: it is, if you like, a free contribution to the public good on my company's behalf. It is particularly irksome, for this reason, for it to be the basis of accusations of corruption. I would appreciate a correction here (I have given up with noooxml, in every sense).

Now, my company has done (a little) business with the British Library in the past; I very much hope it will do so in the future -- as one of the world's largest consumers of digital publishing technology and services they are a very desirable client for us. The claim that because they have an employee on an Ecma committee and are involved with Microsoft (most large players are, in some way), then contracting for them is some kind of evidence of corruption, strikes me as real tinfoil hat stuff.
I personally have no information of any sort that would contradict what Alex says, nor any reason to think that such information  exists.  As noted in my comments above, I think that unsupported allegations have no useful purpose in this debate.

  -  Andy
[ # ]
Sweepings
Authored by: Alex Brown on Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 10:15 AM CDT
A few hanging threads from my exchanges with Andy above ...

> ODF was "cleaner" than OOXML, but tell me if that's not an accurate perception.

I'd go with that. I think ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0) can be compared to a neat house built on good foundations which is not finished; 29500 (OOXML) is a baroque cliffside castle replete with toppling towers, secret passages and ghosts: it is all too finished.

> the consortium world is far outrunning the ISO/IEC system

It's not a sprint, but a marathon.

A discussion of the roles of consortia and International standards organisations is too big for a blog comment: suffice it to say the really big ICT players need to sit at the International table, and if they supposed ISO/IEC can be substituted by Ecma, or OASIS, or even OASIS+bloggers, that could lead to an act of corporate folly that would see their competitors in raptures and, ultimately, their shareholders in revolt.

> advocates are doing a great deal of advocating

Hmm. I'm joined to an ODF mailing list (odf-discuss) which spends the vast majority of its time discussing Microsoft and/or OOXML. If I go to the ODF Alliance site the front page prominently sports an "OOXML Resources" button (no equivalent ODF button) — and a hefty proportion of material on that site is OOXML related.  There is plenty of room for more effective advocacy, I think ...

- Alex.
[ # ]
  • Sweepings - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 15 2008 @ 02:09 AM CDT
Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 12:11 PM CDT
Alex,

Thanks for tying those threads up.

>I'd go with that. I think ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0) can be compared to a neat house built on good foundations which is not finished; 29500 (OOXML) is a baroque cliffside castle >replete with toppling towers, secret passages and ghosts: it is all too finished.

That is certainly the most graphic, and therefore perhaps most useful, characterization I have seen yet.

>t's not a sprint, but a marathon.

Consortia got their start in the mid 1980s, and the best ones (e.g., W3C, Open Geospatial, IETF and so on) are becoming as institutionalized as any SDO.  So that means that the de jure world has been losing ground for a substantial part of the history of information technology, and consortia continue to evolve to provide a more robust and respected platform.  If the tortoise is going to outpace the hare, it had better get started!

>A discussion of the roles of consortia and International standards organisations is too big for a blog comment: suffice it to say the really big ICT players need to sit at the >International table, and if they supposed ISO/IEC can be substituted by Ecma, or OASIS, or even OASIS+bloggers, that could lead to an act of corporate folly that would see their >competitors in raptures and, ultimately, their shareholders in revolt.

I think that the jury is still out on this one, or perhaps instead a better way might be to say that currently it's a hung jury, and could stay that way if there aren't some efforts to do something about it.  Currently, there are consortia such as the W3C that don't see the value in submitting their standards to the de jure system, and just don't bother.  And yet we have the Web as a result.  Indeed, we couldn't have the free Web as we know it, because the W3C's IPR policy would not have been allowed had the W3C initially opted into the de jure system, and sought accreditation from ANSI years ago.

There have been many thousands of  globally adopted standards that were created in consortia that are never submitted to ISO/IEC, and haven't suffered from it.  So while a counter current is also obviously in existence (e.g., as indicated by ODF and OOXML), I think that the older process has some work to do to demonstrate its usefulness, after losing so much market share over so many years.  I also think that it will have to work a bit harder post-OOXML than before it.

That said, I've been advocating for years for more bridge building, but without much success.  You might find this piece interesting:  http://www.consortiuminfo.org/bulletins/may05.php#editorial

>Hmm. I'm joined to an ODF mailing list (odf-discuss) which spends the vast majority of its time discussing Microsoft and/or OOXML. If I go to the ODF Alliance site the front >page >prominently sports an "OOXML Resources" button (no equivalent ODF button) — and a hefty proportion of material on that site is OOXML related.  There is plenty of room >for more >effective advocacy, I think ...

Hmm.  Did you read the blog entry above this one?  Also, it's worth noting that ODF supporters cut their teeth in Massachusetts, when Microsoft and its supporters were trying to kill it in its infancy.  It was only after ODF established a beachhead that Microsoft went to a "two formats are just fine" public posture.  So perhaps ODF proponents can be pardoned for thinking that they need to think defensively as well as advocate for ODF.

  -  Andy
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  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 27 2008 @ 05:35 AM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 27 2008 @ 03:24 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 28 2008 @ 03:09 AM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 28 2008 @ 04:04 AM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 28 2008 @ 09:39 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 29 2008 @ 06:08 AM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 30 2008 @ 07:57 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 01 2008 @ 10:59 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 02 2008 @ 01:13 AM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 02 2008 @ 03:07 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 05 2008 @ 01:59 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 02 2008 @ 03:32 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 02 2008 @ 05:04 PM CDT
  • Astroturfing 101 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 05 2008 @ 01:44 PM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: E-man on Friday, April 18 2008 @ 08:04 PM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 03:04 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 05:38 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 09:03 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 11:37 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: E-man on Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 10:42 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 20 2008 @ 07:21 PM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 12:37 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 02:17 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23 2008 @ 01:12 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23 2008 @ 08:11 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 25 2008 @ 04:24 PM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 06:25 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 09:51 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 12 2008 @ 06:36 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 11:23 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 22 2008 @ 11:42 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 21 2008 @ 04:29 PM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: E-man on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 08:58 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 22 2008 @ 11:46 AM CDT
  • Responses - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 06 2008 @ 02:37 AM CDT
  • Other questions - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 28 2008 @ 09:48 PM CDT
  • Other questions - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 02 2008 @ 12:53 AM CDT
Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Saturday, April 19 2008 @ 04:51 AM CDT
Eric and Andrew,

[For others reading this, this reply is to the two comments posted earlier today that are at the deepest levels of the last thread above this]

There are some very good observations in both of your comments.  One thing that I would add into the mix that I haven't mentioned in a while is one of the reasons that I decided, after quite a bit of thinking, to speak out against OOXML adoption by ISO, given that there is certainly precedent for more than one standard being approved there to address the same, or at least an overlapping, concern.  Other reasons included not feeling that endorsing a standard that primarily benefits a single vendor that hasn't even implemented the standard yet and could have worked with the alternative - ODF (as compared to PDF, where it appeared that there would be real market benefit, and there was no existing standard that Adobe could have adopted).

The one I'll focus on here is that the ISO process as just completed, and as described by Alex and Rick, really isn't a venue that has been created to deal with questions like what a vendor "should" do, but only to deal with what it does to.  And even then, the system is designed to progress the proposed standard, once introduced, to a conclusion based upon the technical merits. One must note also the great degree of vendor influence, which can be used either to push through a standard like OOXML, or could be used to kill the chances of a useful standard as well, for competitive reasons.

So if this is the only system we have, then what do we do to get not only good technical results, but good societal results?  One is to reform the existing system, to make abuse harder, and try to enlist the interest of the National Bodies in taking societal, and not just technical criteria into account, and the other is to go outside the system.

That's where the concept of Civil ICT Rights come in, in my way of looking at things, as a way to separate the purely technical standards, where the vendors can go bash heads as much as they want, and to the extent that other process participants are willing to tolerate it, from those in which non-participants and vendors have a legitimate interest and stake in the outcome.

From this point forward, I'd be repeating myself, but this is where I think a crucial decision point needs to be dealt with and addressed.  Is ISO interested in this question (and if it isn't, that's actually something that can be dealt with - it's mostly important to know what the existing system can be looked to address and what it can't) and if not, where do we take the question?

That's a hard one, because as the Massachusetts example shows, a lot of intolerable pressure can be put on a State CIO.  And it's tough to look to a legislature, because they have many other issues to deal with, and few of those involved have the technical competence to adequately address the underlying issues.

Net result: I think we are at the beginning of a long dialogue.  I think that in the end, the OOXML experience will  be primarily significant less for the outcome, than for exposing the issues and importance of certain standards, and leading on to a next step where (hopefully) solutions will be found for the important issues that have been identified.

  -  Andy
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DIS29500 final text
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 16 2008 @ 08:59 AM CDT
Where is the final DIS 29500 text? Was it distributed on 1st of May according to http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/open/1025.htm and the JTC1 Directives? If not, what are the consequences? Dear Andy, Can you give us an update on that?
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Standards to the People! (Updated Twice)
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 09:25 PM CDT
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Broadcast and Ibm Thinkpad x30 Series Battery
Concentration


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