15 August 2008

ISO's Day of Shame

So ISO has decided it wants to be irrelevant:

The two ISO and IEC technical boards have given the go-ahead to publish ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML formats, as an ISO/IEC International Standard after appeals by four national standards bodies against the approval of the document failed to garner sufficient support.

Oh, and why would that be?

None of the appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela received the support for further processing of two-thirds of the members of the ISO Technical Management Board and IEC Standardization Management Board, as required by ISO/IEC rules governing the work of their joint technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology.

Riiiight: so there was insufficient support among the technical boards for their dirty laundry to be aired in public. What a surprise. The fact that standards bodies representing the second- and fourth-most populous countries in the world were unhappy with the way the standardisation process was carried out doesn't matter, apparently.

Time for a new international standards body, methinks....

14 comments:

Freeman said...

More self-inflicted shame on ISO...

Funny, but most people here in the USA heartland seem to think that ISO means only ISO-9000. That's because most factory workers here have been through an ISO-9000 compliance program. As a result, 99.999% of those people have an extremely bad opinion of ISO, ranging from a colossal waste of time and money at best, to a deliberate conspiracy by the EU to facilitate easier competition with the US not by improving themselves, but by crippling us by forcing our businesses waste resources complying with 9000 in order to do business in the EU or with their companies.

The 29500 debacle will do nothing to improve that image, though most people will remain blissfully ignorant of the whole affair.

glyn moody said...

Interesting - thanks for that perspective.

Roy Schestowitz said...

ISO got corrupted from the inside based on what I could gather. It's nwt as credible as IDC and Gartner, i.e. it's a trash can of numbers, always smiling behind a till.

Shame on ISO and shame on Microsoft for corrupting it.

glyn moody said...

I think it's more that ISO simply isn't equipped to deal with modern computing standards. Old standards played a rather different role, and as far as I can tell, there was never this kind of insane commercial pressure that Microsoft has put on the process.

Roy Schestowitz said...

"Pressure" is putting it mildly based on what I've witnessed and documented.

glyn moody said...

I've always been a fan of British understatement....

Roy Schestowitz said...

I'd go with ISO "oops" then. Like kernel oops...

No need to Panic..

glyn moody said...

"ISO oops" - I like it.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Microsoft's rigging of the standardisation process was a disgrace however am I missing something or can both ISO and MS now be held to account on the fixing and implementation of that standard.

glyn moody said...

I think the point is that Microsoft broke the process, and ISO let them, rather than rocking the boat and pushing back.

Roy Schestowitz said...

The seniors at ISO wanted to fight back, but they got pushed out or quit.

glyn moody said...

Interesting.

Roy Schestowitz said...

It's risky top make accusations without proof, so here's just one classic among more:

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

–Martin Bryan, ISO ‘Escapee’
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1
http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0940.htm

glyn moody said...

Yes, that's all the more powerful considering who it comes from.