Pieter had a conversation a few days ago with me where he pointed me to the Congo wars that some persons describe as the African World War. His family just returned from Congo while he spent some thought provoking days in Togo. The Congo conflict is a greatly underexposed issue in Western media. In Congo it is all about minerals and other resources and millions died. I tend to regard geostrategic views as a rationalising analytical attempt that contributes to oversimplification of foreign policy but in Congo it is all true and the region is largely corrupted by the struggles.
Now, I consider minerals as an issue of the past that might or might not affect technology development. Sure, we have some debates over oil and gas prices and Americans wonder how the UK drivers can get along with 11$ a gallon. But nothing of that is life treathening on a short term base. It would just affect our Western way of living. The worst thing to expect in Brussels is oh!-no-more Green IT lobbying and the Belgiums to adopt real windows (not the legacy operating system this time). ISO standards in that area are more reliable.
Standards have a significant importance as the strategic resource of the information society. We talked about "Standards War". Yet, no one has been killed in our Standards War although billions were at stake. Last summer we had news about a Nigerian standards guy beeing killed but were unable to confirm it and did not publish. Sure, also a supporter of ours was bought and later died(?!), most likely for a natural cause. Some persons were cast out of their jobs, others got promoted. This is why the Microsoft bloggers were right as they talked down the Open XML issue. We are complaining on high grounds and don't expect any mass graves.
What we/are concerned about is the integrity of international standardisation. And here the decision to reject the appeals (as expected) contributed to greater dissatisfaction of industry with the system. Or did it put an end to a we-got-the-message-thanks situation which enables ISO to proceed with let's-talk-reform?
Silence in the woods
One US industry player commented on the list:
And after this insane process they can spin OOXML as Next-Gen Office Standard Approved
Its pretty absurd.
and another one suggested
Is it possible to start a requirements document/process/petition around transparency of process for ISO? There is some kind of irony about the idea that ISO is a brand which is intended to represent procedural clarity and perhaps it would be interesting to make that an explicit want so that ISO needs to attend to that aspect of their service with more rigor/evidence/open documentation and public review and participation? Call it ISO 2.0 ?
- Matusow didn't say a word, it is still his defensive article.
- McGibbon: no word
- Brian Jones: rien
- Eric White: more of the same code snippets
- Gray Knowlton: nothing
Media mostly made up the story on their own. Also this site didn't talk much about the appeals and a half-baked article of mine was linked by many external commentators. Unspinned stories, maybe a bit too much for media workers who like the world to be explained to them. After all that is the role of journalism, to get the world explained and repackage it, no? Astroturfing with Open XML? These tactics are so common that it feels hypocrite to complain about but when you go down that road the backslash will undo the lobby investment as recently with the attacks on Google. This is why it's fun to expose it.
I was told Britain was for the appeal and France against. I didn't write an article about it. Andy Updegrove took the task to dig a bit more in the mud. Does it sound familiar?
One has to wonder whether various SMB members understood the difference between the two votes differently, because the votes on the second question came out so differently relative to the first. Instead, some votes switch, while others translate from an active vote to an abstention, or visa-versa…
and he concludes:
So, while the appeals are likely dead, I would certainly hope that the cause of reform will proceed.
Rob Weir has a deep analysis of the voting process and what might be wrong:
Needless to say, a ballot that yields results where it is impossible to tell what the voters wanted is a hallmark of a seriously flawed, useless ballot. The SMB results are tainted by a poorly written ballot question, given to them by the Secretaries General, which has clearly caused confusion among the SMB voters, and which had a material effect on the results.
So let me give some points: What can be won through another ISO delay?
- more OOXML uncertainty
- ISO to expose itself even more and get ready for procedural reform
- keep the debate in the news
An appeal of the appeal is possible and it would be unwise to not go for it. Unlike in the Congo and any other wars no one gets killed from standards war.