CyberTech Rambler

June 27, 2008

ISO Secretary General’s comment on OOXML

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:53 pm

Via Alex Brown Blog Entry, we now know what ISO’s Secretary General thinks about the ISO OOXML process. I agree with Brown for saying that it is now important for ISO to learn from the process, and will go further by saying that whatever changes tha comes, it should not be retrospectively applied to ISO OOXML. The only way ISO OOXML should be changed now is that it is demonstrated that current procedures (in spirit or in words) are violated and the violation are serious enough that intervention is warranted.

One other thing to note is that Secretary General Alan Bryden is unlikely to say that the Fast Track process is abused. That would be admitting something wrong with a process he is tasked to supervise. It is true that Europeans are more likely than Chinese, i.e., me, to admit mistakes, but there is still something we Chinese call “faces” that is universal whereever you come from. However, most importantly, even if he personally thinks that the process is abused, and there is NOTHING that says he does, he cannot say it as it will be rightly seen to seriously prejudice the current appeal process.

And of course, his job is like that of Alex Brown when he was the convener of the BRM: He must not take side and stick to his job of smoothing everything over, trying to reconcile conflicting view or in other words, do whatever a aribitrator/manager is suppose to do. As such, he is duty bound not to make any statement that will cause resentment from anyone involved in the process, ranging from Microsoft to the National Bodies that appealed.

I could also choose to follow Alex Brown by emphasizing Sec Gen Bryden’s comment on “experience learned … improvement to follow” but I am worried that I would be making a wrong emphasis on his comments. I do, however, hope that this is indeed what Sec Gen Bryden is going to do. All I will say is lets see what ISO does in the near future. Changes in an organization as large and diverse as ISO will no doubt be a very slow moving train. I would not be surprised if the changes originating from this experience only starts to trickle in from the end of next year.



  1. “there is still something we Chinese call “faces” that is universal whereever you come from.”

    A Western European loses his face when he communicated like Alan Bryden does, it turns a person into a tragic character. It is so discremental to his personal integrity. Integrity as a correponding concept to face.

    In fact it sounds like an invitation to bail him out. Bryden is top of ISO, he is not limited to speak freely, who else should speak if not him, and yet he loses face by approving misconduct. His behaviour is very damaging to ISO as an institution.

    Comment by Andre — June 27, 2008 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Andre,

    Personal integrity is very closely related to the concept of face. At times, it is demonstrated that people will choose integrity over face.

    Face the “Chinese way” is deals mainly with admitting mistake, focusing on the “how” one admit mistake in the public arena. Frequently, you see Chinese2Chinese dealing where we do not call out mistake by another party but instead let the topic slip, and the other party will correct the mistake in the next available opportunity. In other words, one party give the ohter party the chance to “get down from the podium” or to step back from its position by not forcing him into a corner.

    Sometimes, you do see this in Chinese Diplomacy. PRC will not publicly condemns someone, but quietly, at the background, deal with the issue. Take the North Korea nuclear issue for example, North Korea is said to had handed details about its secret program to China, not UK, not US or Japan. Why? I speculate that this has to do with the quiet diplomacy by China, making China a partner that NK can deal with, since China had restrained from NK bashing, unlike other parties in the negotiation.

    I agree being at the top of ISO, Bryden has more freedom than lower level employees to speak freely. Most of the time, I find that it is not a good idea to speak out as it anger people who matters unnecessarily. I believe part of the reason why Microsoft choose to announce ODF support only after the BRM is the criticism it faces before the BRM. The time schedule for shipping ODF support says that a decision must had been made pre-BRM. So it decides to do the announcement after things calm down a bit.

    We must stick to our guns and say that ISO must learn from the experience of OOXML approval. We need to give Bryden time, but we must keep up the pressure. Lets give Bryden the space he needs to effect changes, but make sure changes do occur. Action speaks louder than words in this case. At the end, if he delivers, why cares about what he had spoken in the past?

    Comment by ctrambler — June 28, 2008 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

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