Opening Up ISO's Can of Worms


Nothing shows better what is wrong with the ISO, and why we need to replace it with a new global standards organisation, than the following post:

I notice some of the dafter quarters of the web have published the ISO/IEC 29500:2008 (OOXML) text. Now, while not many people know for sure what ITTF do to a text when they prepare it for publication, one thing they do do for sure is to put a copyright statement on every page. So what we have witnessed is a brazen act of copyright violation. The boobies have even been so good as to boast about the bandwidth requirements their crimes have occasioned (no further questions, m'lud).

Even now, I can hear those Geneva lawyers licking their lips over this one ...

The point is, the *entire process* should be out in the open: that's how we do things in the 21st century, remember - the Internet, open source, Web 2.0, that kind of stuff? You know, a collaborative endeavour that draws as widely as possible on people who have relevant skills, whoever they may be? If the ISO wants to cling to secret squirrel meetings with Terribly Important Experts in closed rooms, that's its prerogative; but if it does, it can't presume to be a modern global standards body with any credibility, and it should make way for others to do the job.

A transparent process should be a badge of honour for the participants, since no one can then impugn their actions, and a basic act of respect towards the users of that standard, who are not made to feel like peasants receiving grace as the holy ISO tablets are handed down from Mount Geneva.

Given the decidedly turbid process that has swirled around the standardisation of OOXML, the need for some clarity is all the greater. The idea of the ISO suing someone for doing what ought to be one of its primary responsibilities, because it might result in a loss of “revenue” - as if the whole point of the ISO and national standards bodies were to make money - is sad in the extreme.

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