I haven't blogged about the OOXML saga for several months.  For one, the politics leading to the ISO vote were wearing thin on me.  For another, once Microsoft announced ODF support, I felt like the issue of OOXML's future was far less interesting.  But as Nathan Freeman pointed out to me yesterday, I've missed quite a soap opera in the ISO appeals process.  Being in Brazil this week, many of the customers and partners I've spoken with believe in OpenOffice or the concept of open document formats.  In the IBM office I've been hanging out at, there is a Linux innovation center on the ground floor, right inside the lobby -- premium real estate given to a hot area.  Brazil is one of the countries that formally protested the ISO vote on OOXML.  There are others.  The ISO doesn't particularly appear to care.  As my colleague Bob Sutor explains:

[T]he sentiment is that the conservative bureaucracies that let OOXML get this far will not tolerate any challenge to their process and decision making, and therefore want this appeals business to be killed right now. This, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake.

I think that ISO and IEC are on the edge of a precipice which, if they fall off, will cause them to rapidly lose relevance to IT (ICT) developments in many parts of the world, especially emerging markets.

What they appear to be saying to India, Brazil, South Africa, and Venezuela is "Go away, our process works. We love our process. You are wrong. Live by our rules and be quiet."

If the appeals process is cut off without detailed community examination of the charges against what happened in the OOXML experience, I think that the reputations of the ISO and IEC will continue to diminish. It does not seem to me that anyone at the senior levels of these organizations gets this. Rather than giving these four nations the cold shoulder, and doing it with what appears to this reader as having arrogant undertones, it makes far more sense for ISO and IEC to allow the process to carry on.

This would allow the various stakeholders to explain their arguments, mutually understand what did and didn't work, and come to common conclusions. It would also lay the groundwork for whatever reforms are necessary so that the OOXML embarrassment never happens again.
There is more about the appeals process on Groklaw, Andy Upegrove, and other blogs.   Bob has all the links.  It is disappointing to read about, but not surprising.  I think a lot of people, including employees of two of the main organizations in this drama, would like to move on... but, at the same time, there is something very very important about standing for why a process matters, and to see that ignored for sake of expediency or path of least resistance is disappointing.

Link: Bob Sutor: OOXML appeals: Now or never >

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