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Alex Brown Again Attacks the ‘Standard of the People’ (Updated)

Posted in Europe, ISO, Standard at 11:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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.”

Alex Brown

Peter Judge, over at ZDNet UK, continues to publish articles about Alex Brown‘s stubborn battle against ODF, which even Alex himself considers to be analogous to “a neat house built on good foundations”. Rob Weir continues to rebut as he last did yesterday while Bob Sutor highlights the fact that a few wealthy stakeholders get to vote ‘on behalf’ of the population as a whole, which is absurd.

Not everyone can participate or support every standards effort they believe has value. There are thousands of efforts but only so many people, hours, and money that can be applied.

Let’s say that you had some fixed number that you applied to your standards participation. I’m not saying you don’t, but humor me in this experiment. Suppose very simply that you could only participate in X standards organizations, Y technical committees, or spend Z dollars on membership fees, travel, salary, etc., for how you participate.

Remember what happened in Norway?

ISO standards for saleHow about the French president, who insisted on changing his nation's votes because errrrr… not because he's friends with Microsoft's former executives but because he tested OOXML for validation on his portable computer, then checked the 8,000+ pages describing OOXML (including comments and changes) and was immediately bemused. [sarcasm /].

Alex Brown seems to be a similar example because he’s promoting OOXML (e.g. for the British Library) while at the same time getting to make decisions about it in the BSI and ISO. The BSI, by the way, has just been sued. Are standards being decided on? Or are merely being sold, regardless of how poor, discriminatory, proprietary and inadequate the candidate is? After Microsoft’s malicious intervention, ISO deserves no less than a scrape-and-replace treatment.


“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.”

Martin Bryan, ISO
Former Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 (OOXML) WG1

Update: Watch Jelliffe [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], Stokcolm’s [1, 2, 3, 4] blog, Alex Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], and Shill hAl [1, 2] all coming together in Rick’s blog (mind the comments). Talk about ‘groupies’. And they refer to us, OOXML critics, very dismissively as just “vocal blogs”. It sure looks like some people have joined a certain club. The dirty dance perhaps, truly an orgy of money and influence. What a sick world we live in.

“I think it’s worse. When people do bad things, they usually try to perfume it, even to themselves. And when they plan to do worse things, they spray and spray and spray to try to get everyone to agree that it isn’t as bad as it is.”

Pamela Joned, a couple of days ago

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