Ctrl-Alt-Del on ISO/IEC SC 34?

Having been a alternate board member at WS-I, a committee co-chair at OASIS and at some point closely involved in W3C and DMTF working groups, I’ve had my share of dealing with standards organizations rules, bylaws and policies. All these organizations try to find a balance between openness/fairness on one end of the scale and efficiency/consistency/vision on the other. But all those are industry standard organizations and I have been spared the need to deal with the internals of the even more complex and bureaucratic “de jure” organizations like ISO/IEC. Those who follow the OOXML/ODF debate remember the often-alleged, never-denied (that I have seen) and ultimately unsuccesful attempt to stack the deck in favor of Microsoft’s OOXML by convincing a large number of new countries to join the vote at the last minute. Andy Updegrove now describes a probably unanticipated (let’s not be too cynical) consequence of this attempt: these new members don’t really understand or care about the work going on in SC 34 and their non-participation is preventing the group from making any progress due to the need to have a participation rate of at least 50% in the votes. And this is impacting many other specifications not related to OOXML (including, ironically, Schematron which is a dependency for the Microsoft-backed SML specification).

If this was OASIS, these countries would loose their voting status after failing to participate (if only by voting “abstain”) in a certain number of votes. But I don’t know if such minimum participation rules exist as a safety feature in ISO.

After the attempt to seize control, here is the halting of the work. Deletion is the logical next step in the ctrl-alt-del pattern that seems to be emerging…

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