Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yankees in the Court of King Arthur, with a Microsoft Agenda

ANSI/INCiTS has completed their review of Ecma 376, and is ready to cast their ISO/IEC Contradiction Review Phase Fast Track Ballot in favor of Ecma 376 being rammed through ISO. As Sam Hiser points out in his PlexNex blog, not only are the findings of contradictions, inconsistencies, and proprietary dependencies pouring into the public view, there's not much an American can do about it. ANSI/INCiTS has determined that no contradictions exist."

Hi Sam,

As a fellow American, prepare yourself for humiliation and shame. ANSI/INCiTS has decided that they will not object to MS Ecma 376 on the ISO/IEC Fast Track Ballot. This in spite of the massive compilation of contradictions and inconsistencies compiled by GrokDoc, whose members raced through the weekend just to have the document ready for the ANSI/INCiTS meetings.

Rather than confront the clear evidence of contradictions and inconsistencies, the brave hearts at ANSI/INCiTS choose to narrow the definition of what a contradiction is. And narrow it they did.

They decided that one standard contradicts another standard only if the proposed standard causes the existing standard not to work.

Sounds good doesn't it? Au contraire mon ami. This is the kind of self serving maneuvering only a bureaucrat could love.

Using the analogy of the Chinese WAPI WiFi networking standard that was defeated last year because the protocol caused radio interference with existing 801.11 networks, our standards champions came up with their mechanical interference measure of “contradiction”.

Because both files can physically exist on the same disk without interfering with each other, our champions determined that OOXML did not contradict ODF.

Maybe they thought this would go unnoticed, but as one disheartened friend of open standards pointed out, “this argument can be used for every XML format, every programming language, every operating system, in fact every software standard, since software is ultimately data, and data can be segregated on disks. So they essentially chose a definition so narrow that it nullified the concept of "contradiction" for most of what JTC1 has authority over”.

So narrow a definition of “contradiction” that you can drive a fleet of monopolist trucks through the hole they've carved out of the ISO/IEC standards process.

So here we are. The champions appointed by our National Institute of Standards and Technology to represent our interest in the International Standards process have carved out a dangerous and possibly enduring loophole in the ISO/IEC fast track process. A loophole designed to serve the interest of a single proprietary monopolist seeking to control mankind's digital future.

Sam, where do we hide?

To our friends abroad fighting desperately to preserve the integrity of international open standards, with our digital freedom and the future of open Internet on the line, we ask that they dig in their heels and fight this to the end. Those Yankees you see striding into the Court of King Arthur are not from Connecticut, and the Camelot of ISO had better beware. Stalking standards to the tune of that ugliest of all Americans, the corporation from Redmond, ANSI/INCiTS has sold our souls that the world might be fodder for Vista.

Dig in your heels friends,


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