The Standards Blog

The Contradictory Nature of OOXML (Part III) - Mea Culpa

OpenDocument and OOXML

One of the things that you learn early when you blog is to ignore the flames, or at least try to.  Lots of people will assume that you're a jerk (a/k/a you think something they don't), or that you have all of your facts wrong.  They can often get pretty harsh about it, too.  Still, you have to keep in mind that you're not going to always be right, and own up and take it in the chops like a grownup when you get called out.  Assuming, of course, that the one calling you out has their facts right.

For example:  yesterday I noticed that someone had posted a trackback  to this entry of mine to one of theirs that they titled Andy Updegrove's Indian Fancy.  That post, at a Microsoft site, and written by self-described "Open XML Technical Evangelist" Doug Mahugh (I see from this entry that he's also the person who wanted to hire Rick Jelliffe to edit the ODF/OOXML entry at Wikipedia) , included the following, beginning with an out take from my blog entry:

"According to one story, at least one of these countries (India) was considering responding by abstaining from voting, in protest over the extremely short amount of time provided to review the voluminous specification. Instead, it appears that it opted to knuckle down, finish its review, and submit contradictions instead."

…Well, maybe Andy knows something I don't, or maybe he's just quoting somebody who got the facts wrong. There's been rather a lot of that getting-the-facts wrong stuff lately when it comes to file formats, you know. :-)

So I clicked on the link he provided, thinking I'd read about India "submitting contradictions" to ISO. But that article doesn't say any such thing! And in fact, when I followed the link I immediately recognized the article because I happen to have read it in New Delhi on Monday morning, a good 12 hours before India had responded to ISO on this matter. I remembered it because I got a good laugh out of the "against the human spirit" comment in it -- the Times of India never fails to make me laugh.

So let me get this right. Andy Updegrove makes up an Indian response to the ISO Fast-Track process, then to support his fabrication he links to an article that was published before India had even responded to ISO, and one which in any event makes no mention at all of India submitting a contradiction. And then, just to help get the word out, an IBM VP links to Andy's article to help him spread this fabrication. (Presumably they do it this way so that nobody at IBM is actually telling lies, they're just linking to the lies others tell on their behalf.)

Wow. Desperate times for IBM, it seems. And their respect for the ISO standards process is downright palpable, wouldn't you say?

Many of Doug's readers were good enough to post comments pointing out that he had obviously misread my post, which pointed to the article not to say that india had responded, but to show that they had considered abstaining.  News that they had in fact responded came from another (and highly reliable) source.

Still and all, Doug, I have to own up.  My facts were not completely correct, and my source was not completely reliable.  In point of fact, JTC 1 made a mistake when they generated their first list, and reported that 19 countries had responded during the contradiction period.  That's a fact, and I've got to take the consequences.  From your post, it appears that you might have even known that this was inaccurate, although you didn't mention that.

I've now learned that JTC 1 realized its mistake after I posted my blog entry, and has now corrected its mistake and circulated a new list.

That corrected list does not, in fact, show 19 respondents…it shows 20.  It seems that they forgot Italy the first time around. 

Mea culpa

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

subscribe to the free Consortium Standards Bulletin


Why have the procedures of JTC1 been altered in this case to allow ECMA to respond to the contradictions before publishing the contradictions? I have contacted the Australian P-member to see if they objected and to ask for a copy of any objection. Perhaps other people could contact their countries' P-member?

I'm not quite sure what your Mea Culpa is, exactly. You'd said that India had indicated that they might not be submitting a vote. You then said that India had finally sent in a vote, which they apparently have.

The only thing I can figure that you might be pleading Mea Culpa over is that perhaps you don't know that India's response was going to be one of submitting contradictions. Maybe you don't know WHAT India's response was. Is that it?

Please clarify. I'm confused. Thanks.

Sorry for the confusion; my attempt at irony may have been too labored.

In fact, I don't have anything to apologize for, especially in relation to the boorish and inaccurate accusations leveled by Mahugh, who was either befuddled, or deliberately misreading what I wrote.

The mea culpa was a snarky recognition of the fact that the only inaccuracy in my blog post was that the facts were even worse than I originally said they were, with 20, rather than 19 responses being returned.

  -  Andy

Doug Mahugh seems to be making a distinction between a member organization submitting a "response" during the contradiction period and  them actually submitting a contradiction. Does such a distinction actually exist? Can an organization submit a response that says "We agree wholeheartedly with this standard and see no contradictions."?

Being a member organization, I'm sure that anyone can respond in whatever way they wish. What I'm told is that the great majority of the responses include contradictions and/or concerns (e.g., too little time to respond). But as I haven't seen the responses myself, I can't be any more helpful than that. - Andy