A blog for the enterprise open source community
Low standardsMatthew Aslett, December 7, 2007 @ 12:59 pm ET
I’m surprised there hasn’t been more attention in the press today on the comments made by Martin Bryan, outgoing convenor of the ISO JTC1/SC34 WG1 (the working group overseeing the progress of ECMA 376 – Microsoft Office Open XML – through the ISO standardization process).
It’s a really quite remarkable comment on the mess that has been left by the failure of new nations encouraged to join the working group in order to vote on ECMA 376 to vote on anything else (Andy Updegrove previously explained the background to this mess here).
According to Bryan:
“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.
“Unless ISO tightens up on its rules, and removes or demotes, P members who do not vote as required by ISO rules I would recommend my successor that it is perhaps time to pass WG1’s outstanding standards over to OASIS, where they can get approval in less than a year and then do a PAS submission to ISO, which will get a lot more attention and be approved much faster than standards currently can be within WG1. The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”
I don’t think there’s any need for further comment. Whichever way you look at it, this is a pretty sad state of affairs.
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