Bonum Certa Men Certa

New ISO: Denial and Damage Control, as Standard

Muhammed Saeed al Sahaf



ISO has become rather weird. It's excessively defensive rather than authoritative. Having been replaced or accompanied by Microsoft, at least in some sense (ISO shuffles amid Microsoft's abuse and intervention), those two seem to have been enjoying each others' comfort in embrace of systematic denials. They hope that the world will forget what happened and then just move on. They hope to redeem and to heal the reputation of both Microsoft and ISO.



ISO standards for saleWere there no problems with the scandalous process which was hinged on OOXML? Surely there were problems, even according to Alex Brown. Martin Bryan was more explicit about it:

"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.

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
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1



Later evidence supports this. Mr. Bryan saw in advance what was coming and it was already miserable enough when he decided to leave. Some people at ISO appear not to have the same level of integrity though.

Alan Bryden, for example, just like Mr. Frost on the face of it, has taken a different strategy: denial. He doesn't want people to know what happened. Everyone is stupid and only ISO knows what's right! It's like that sculpture with the three monkey.

Reuters has just published this hugely-imbalanced article, which seems like a somewhat of a placement/press release for ISO. It extensively quotes Mr. Bryden, who is their top man. It's filled with damage control and denial where he concludes with:

"Irrespective of the outcome of the current appeals, we are confident that the robustness of the system will again lead to the answer the market place wishes to see and, in fact, reinforce ISO's credibility," he said.


Robustness of the system? Is Bryden talking about the GNU system? ISO sure wasn't robust enough and the mountains of evidence won't go away any time soon. Even people inside ISO have already acknowledged the severe issues (c/f references at the top).

It does not seem like ISO's leadership is even willing to recognise the problem, let alone do something about it. ISO is, by its own choice, opting to stay irrelevant. Thank you, Microsoft, for ruining an important establishment.

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