CyberTech Rambler

April 9, 2008

Appeals to ISO

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:13 am

As expected, we see appeals to ISO over the approvals of OOXML. I agree with Jason Mathusow that this is a normal process. In this case, whichever way the votes go, there is no doubt that there will be appeals.

Do not pin your hope of the appeals reversing the decision. To me, so far, the only valid reasons to overturn the decision is that the process is not adequate or the quality of the standard is too low. Anything to do with the way National Bodies cast their vote should be turned down as nothing to do with ISO but internal affairs of the National Body. That is the reason why I think the Norway’s committee chairperson appeals to ISO to set aside Norway’s vote is wrong. Complain loudly or even demonstrate (please support if you can), but this is still Norways internal affairs.

After reading Canada’s statement, I hope it follows it up by launching a formal appeal. To me, the inadequecy of the process is the easiest to see, understand and the most important reason why OOXML should had failed. British Standard Institute is taking some of its complains to the appeal process, although it did not identify them.

The publicity around OOXML has highlighted the good and bad about the “Fast Track” process in ISO. I am sure there will be changes. Whatever the changes, I hope it will be implemented in time for XPS. Yes, Microsoft has another (unproven) technology for fast tracking. Some commentators had shifted focus to XPS already. Unlike OOXML, it will attract less interest. This is a shame. I rather enjoy the in depth technical analysis by Rob Weir and others. Again, unlike OOXML, less commercial interest is at stake. It is, however, still a good test case for any new rules.

Overall, I think it is the National Bodies process that needs the most scrutiny. While Mathusow is correct in saying that National Bodies should balance commercial interests with technical merits, this time it appears that in a lot of National Bodies, the technical committees decisions are simply overruled by commercial interest. This is wrong. Moreover, both sides are gaming the system, although to different extents. There should be better regulations against this. I cannot remember where I read it, but an insider of one National Bodies says that “We should not give voting rights to people who joined a committee 2 hours ago”. I like this comment, as it cuts both ways. May be something like OASIS rule (attend 2 meetings before getting voting rights and lose it if you did not attend X meetings) can resolve this problem.

Finally, whichever way National Bodies had chosen to modify its procedures, it should not be retroactive to OOXML. What is done is done. Unless, of course, the irregularity identified is simply too big to ignore.

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