Can’t buy me (OOXML) love in Italy

See the blog post “OOXML does not buy its way in Italy”. I had been trying to figure out how to get that Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love” into a blog entry for a few days, but Carlo beat me to it.

Andy Updegrove has more on this.

The fundamental question is whether a large company with a lot of money and business partners will essentially be able to stack committees so that they are out of balance and therefore buy an ISO standard. I, for one, do not think this is appropriate. I doubt ISO does either.


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10 Responses to Can’t buy me (OOXML) love in Italy

  1. WuMing Shi says:

    “The fundamental question is whether a large company with a lot of money and business partners will essentially be able to stack committees so that they are out of balance and therefore buy an ISO standard”

    Buying an ISO standard is morally wrong. I do see the trend of stacking the committees in National Bodies in this case. But I still have this nagging doubt that it is 100% Microsoft’s doing. I mean if you are a Microsoft partner, especially office partners, who have a lot of money invested in OOXML, you will naturally want to protect your investment and participating in committees deciding whether to recommend OOXML is one. Moreover, we know the standard is not as good as ODF and the voices of proODF camp do resonant around the corridors. One will expect the more less likely OOXML will be approved, the more chance the survival instinct kicks in and that’s why you see them taking steps to protect their interest. If this is the case, then in my view, that is fair game.

  2. Bob Sutor says:

    Those are good points. I think as time goes on we’ll find out exactly what happened and why. If anything was not above board, that will have a big effect on the validity of the proceedings and the aftermath.

  3. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    What’s the plan for France/AFNOR? Alien Invasion going on too.

  4. Help the story get wider exposure. It’s almost there (front page). http://digg.com/linux_unix/OOXML_does_not_buy_its_way_in_Italy

  5. Rick Jelliffe says:

    The fundamental question is whether a large company with a lot of money and business partners will essentially be able to stack committees so that they are out of balance and therefore buy the blocking of ISO standard. I, for one, do not think this is appropriate. I doubt ISO does either.

  6. Rick, facts on the ground suggest otherwise. The ISO has been susceptible to the skewing. Just look at the stories /carefully/.

  7. Actually it is quite impressing seeing how the voting panel was formed. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that among those favouring the adoption of the standard without reservation a large majority is made of business partners of the proposing entity.

  8. len says:

    Which is what you would expect, Paul. Tell me, if someone proposed to run a new interstate down the center of your neighborhood, who do you expect would show up at the City Council meeting? If they proposed to put a new gas station in the empty lot at the local intersection, would the same people show up?

    It is not stacking when a ‘community of interest’ forms. Isn’t that the way web standards have always been created? Is this case different in any significant way?

  9. Bob Sutor says:

    len, the difference is that the people who show up to discuss the interstate or the gas station don’t then get to vote at the meeting on whether the project will continue. In the national standards bodies, they can, and that’s where the stacking can occur.

    In a purely democratic process of independent entities there is no problem. When the entities have commercial ties to the proposer, it gets dicier.

  10. len says:

    Actually they get to vote on the people who vote and that is where the disconnect int the analogy is. If the people who represented the nation bodies were elected, it might be a different process.

    But we can’t deny that the level of interest in the process affects the attendance and given different kinds of interest, different mixes show up. I have to wonder if XML would have been able to upend SGML if the W3C had taken it seriously in the early days instead of Jon essentially being able to handpick his team. Remember the SIG (the chorus line) was where the issues were duked out in public even if the ERB was having its own internal squabble. And that was a group in toto of people pretty much committed to the eventual success of the project even if not the final features mix (DTDs just wouldn’t die; minimisation did. Ten years on, it seems we might have kept minimisation, but oh well…).

    Is it possible that initially the competitors didn’t take OOXML seriously so refused to participate until it became obvious it was moving forward and now can’t get in the door? It is tough to stack a full room and tougher to get in later. We both know that given the central position of document/office standards in commercial software, there are NO independent entities so everyone shows up related to someone else. For the longest time, the web community refused to take ISO seriously.

    What we may be seeing in this process is the relearning of how to pay attention, when to act, and to plan ahead. Yeah, XAML or its analog will be a candidate at some point. The good news is, that won’t be a new standard and there is time to think through how to do this well. IBM is still publishing stories that it is working on virtual world standards but no acts show that to be more than tinkering. Meanwhile the non-virtual world apps are using more X3D or Collada because it is there, it is standard, and it open without any doubt. Is this planning or just the way the events are unfolding? There is no consistency in these positions other than speculation or interpretations of vendor alliance and self-interest. By comparison, Microsoft and it’s vendors are doing exactly the same thing except they are being quite formal and transparent.

    So in the realm of social conscience, I’m not that impressed by the ODF positions or that surprised by the OOXML positions. Spy Vs Spy, Bob.

    Next time, we can just send Kevin Bacon. He’s everyone’s linkedIn rep.

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