≡ Menu

Where’s Rob?

Alex Brown is saddened that I did not attend the JTC1/SC34 Plenary in Korea last week. You can view his photo essay and lament on my absence here.

[A] question being asked along the committee corridors by perplexed NB members is whether IBM has withdrawn its staff from participation SC 34. I have no idea, but IBM people are certainly conspicuous here by their total absence.

Well, I’m truly touched, and by way of reciprocation maybe I can help Alex and any other similarly perplexed attendees understand the situation better.

First, it will help if we start by taking a look at recent SC34 meetings and what the attendance record (publicly accessible) says:

Date Location Total Attendance Size of US Delegation # of IBM/OASIS Participants # of Microsoft/ECMA Participants
Nov 2004 Plenary Washington DC 25

6

0 0
May 2005 Plenary Amsterdam 28 4 0 0
Nov 2005 Plenary Atlanta 22 4 1 0
May 2006 Plenary Seoul 30 4 2 2
Mar 2007 Plenary Oslo 37 6 0 5
Dec 2007 Plenary Kyoto 52 3 2 12
Apr 2008 Plenary Oslo 37 3 1 8
July 2008 Ad Hoc 1 London 20 1 1 10
Oct 2008 Plenary Jeju Island 35 est. 2 est. 0 est. 12 est.

(estimates from Alex Brown, since no official attendance has been published)

To put it in perspective, the US SC34 shadow committee currently has around 20 members. Before Microsoft stuffed it we had around 7. Regardless, the US SC34 mirror committee typically sends a delegation of 2 or 3 people to international meetings. IBM attendance at these meetings has varied from 0 to 2. It really depends on where the meeting is being held. If it is being hosted by an NB where an IBM employee is a member, then he will typically attend. If something is on the agenda that I find interesting, then I’ll typically attend regardless of location.

Now what is really interesting is how Microsoft has increased its attendance over the years, something Alex does not mention and presumably does not find fault with. I remember introducing myself to the first Microsoft attendee at a SC34 Plenary back in 2006. He was an attorney, from Microsoft’s anti anti-trust department. An odd person to send to a technical standards committee meeting, don’t you think?

Since then, Microsoft’s representation has swelled so it now comprises 20-50% of any given meeting. And that does not count those additional “independent” companies and contractors that are employed by Microsoft to create OOXML convertors or to consult with on OOXML matters. I’m only counting those people who explicitly list “Microsoft” or “Ecma” as their corporate affiliations.

I think you’ll find no other case in SC34 attendance records of a single company sending more than a single representative. Everyone else in the world sends one person. IBM once sent two people. Microsoft sends ten or a dozen.

Despite Microsoft’s successful attempt to stuff SC34, as they did NB’s around the world, participation from IBM remains in the range of 0 to 2 participants. I’d be hard pressed to justify the expense of any greater attendance. The real work on ODF goes on in OASIS. That’s where we put our people, where they can be most effective on the technical topics related to ODF.

Alex, of course, misses all this. Sitting in a room full of non-technical Microsoft employees, the only unusual thing worth mentioning is my unclaimed badge. Good job as always, Inspector Clouseau!

In any case, the greatest concern should be given to that last row in the table, giving the attendance of the recent Jeju Island Plenary. Although the resolutions of this meeting have been posted and discussed, they lack any record of the actual attendance of this meeting. It has been the constant practice of JTC1/SC34, for many years, to record the attendance of their meetings and to post this document to the SC34 document repository and to make it publicly accessible. But in this case, the attendance record is missing entirely. It isn’t even available to SC34 members.

What are they afraid to reveal? Exactly how many Microsoft employees were at this meeting? The trend certainly has been upward. But this information is not available. Is Alex, the Convenor of WG1, only going to publicize my absence, but then fail to report who actually attended his own WG meeting? Is Alex going to express pleasure in saying “In the event this went extremely smoothly: all resolutions passed with unanimous consensus” without mentioning who exactly was there to vote for these resolutions?

I hope this is not yet a further sign that JTC1/SC34 has taken a decent into vendor domination and reduced transparency.

Oh, and where was I? I was on vacation. (Yes, I am allowed vacation). I was in Colorado, spending some time above the timberline and among the rocks.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • marc 2008/10/07, 13:55

    “i was in colorado”

    beautiful place, Rob , i don’t know it but the photo looks good!

  • Alex 2008/10/07, 15:45

    Delightful stuff Rob – I really did miss you in Jeju. Though I think I may have eaten your portion of barbequed pork at the (MS-sponsored) banquet.

    I'm sure the attendance list for the meeting will appear in the usual way in due course – as you may have seen from the SC34 feed, the documents from the meeting are still being produced. It not often that the attendance list is such a high priority.

    By my (rough, unconfirmed) count, there were eight MS employees in 15 NB delegations (+ 4 people in the Ecma group) out of the 35 or so attendees. There were zero IBM employees. Patrick Durusau was there sometimes with an OASIS hat on. Naturally "MS person != MS position" just as "IBM person != IBM position". Delegates are charged with representing national positions. Your own head of the USA delegation (Dave Welsh) for example is an MS employee yet represents faithfully the position you guys have collectively decided as a committee, right?

    On a point of detail I *did* mention the increase in numbers of MS people in SC 34 when it happened (Oslo 2007), see: http://adjb.net/index.php?entry=entry070322-214025. Since then, as your table shows, their attendance in numbers has been the norm.

    On another point of detail I did not convene anything during these meetings — too busy looking for defects in ISO/IEC 29500 (on which topic, will the USA be contributing in this area soon?)

    I am glad to hear you were taking a (no doubt well-earned) break. As I've said elsewhere, leaving the corporate/national/political concerns to one side I think those of us who have been personally involved in this need some R&R. Nice picture too.

    Maybe Prague … ?

  • orlando 2008/10/07, 17:05

    “eight MS employees […] (+ 4 people in the Ecma group) out of the 35 or so attendees”

    doing some math:

    given that Ecma = Microsoft

    <=> Microsoft attendees = 8 + 4 = 12
    <=> current level of MS stacking = 12/35 = 34%

    A big number indeed … i would call it a defcon 3 or so…

    “On another point of detail I did not convene anything during these meetings — too busy looking for defects in ISO/IEC 29500 (on which topic, will the USA be contributing in this area soon?)”

    I can see the top guys in Microsoft headquarters laughing and saying: big one! we bought the ISO stamp; and as a bonus we still have NBs and SC34 guys working free for us,,, to try to fix the mess we made throwing this internal Office 2007 documentation ( aka DIS 29500 ) to fast-track.

    Delicious!!

  • Fx 2008/10/07, 18:07

    “I remember introducing myself to the first Microsoft attendee at a SC34 Plenary back in 2006. He was an attorney, from Microsoft’s anti anti-trust department. An odd person to send to a technical standards committee meeting, don’t you think?”

    Rob, do you think that this lawyer is part of the “new and rejuvenated guard” [0] that Microsoft generously provided to SC34 and NBs or he was just accidentally/incidentally attending this meeting? ( a la Doug “the Malaysian” Mahugh ).

    Thanks in advance

    Felix

    [0]
    “Most standards bodies are filled with ‘an old guard’ membership that needs rejuvenation”

    –Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft.

    (http://www.computerworlduk.com/management/infrastructure/applications/news/index.cfm?newsid=4939)

  • John 2008/10/07, 18:33

    are any IBMers going to the OOXML 2 days session in Redmond this month? Doug M has blogged about it. It would be good to see someone there .. as no one came to the ODF one.

  • Rob 2008/10/07, 20:00

    Fx, Maybe new, but not very rejuvenated.

    John, why would I be interested in hearing Microsoft talk about how they plan on supporting OOXML? That’s not really my department.

    In any case, if better interoperability could be achieved by talking about it, or by changing 25% of your employees job titles to “Director of Interoperability” then we would have perfect interoperability by now.

    But there is a difference between “caring” and “engineering”, and I’m firmly on the engineering side of interoperability. We don’t get there by social drinking and singing kumbayah.

  • Anonymous 2008/10/07, 21:22

    Dear Rob,

    Any comments on their proposal to “take over” ODF maintenance from OASIS?

    Did you fake the pictures, they look a bit surreal, especially the second picture.

    WuMingShi

  • Rob 2008/10/07, 22:21

    WuMingShi,

    There are several participants in SC34 who have had the stated goal of taking control of OOXML and ODF and maintaining them both in SC34 WG’s. They’ve been quite open about this plan. The problem is that they are planning a future for standards that they neither own nor control nor have technical expertise.

    This was an interesting goal when they first articulated this idea, around two years ago. However, now that we’ve seen that JTC1 is easily corruptible, both at the NB, SC and administrative levels, that JTC1 is incapable of fairly carrying out its own Directives, and that in practice SC34 is now so dominated by Microsoft that we could consider it a fully integrated division of Microsoft Corp., this push toward maintaining ODF in SC34 is both naive and dangerous. It will not happen. Doing so would be a huge step backwards in participation,openness, transparency, in IP rights and in technical quality. Drain the swamp first, and then let’s talk.

    As for the photos, there are a couple thing going on there. First, I used a circular polarizer at shoot time to darken the sky and improve the contrast. Second, I took a series of bracketed exposures of the same scene, and then combined the images. These techniques allow a single photo to show a wider dynamic range, showing details in both shadow and highlights. But every pixel is real, was there when the picture was shot. Nothing has been added, subtracted or moved. If it looks faked,then I’m not doing it right ;-)

  • Anonymous 2008/10/08, 05:18

    Rob,

    I can’t said anything about other NB’s but Microsoft was representing Brazil on that meeting, against the decision of our committee (full story here: http://homembit.com/2008/10/meeting-of-jtc1sc34-in-korea-it-is-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.html).

    They defended and presented THEIR position, not the Brazillians one.

  • The Open Sourcerer 2008/10/08, 08:16

    Thanks for the table Rob. A Most shocking set of figures indeed.

  • orlando 2008/10/08, 10:21

    But every pixel is real, was there when the picture was shot.

    my first sight impression is that the first photo is real

    but the second seemed very unreal for me!

  • orlando 2008/10/16, 13:15

    orlando said…

    "eight MS employees […] (+ 4 people in the Ecma group) out of the 35 or so attendees"

    doing some math:

    given that Ecma = Microsoft

    <=> Microsoft attendees = 8 + 4 = 12
    <=> current level of MS stacking = 12/35 = 34%

    Number confirmed: current level of nominal ISO JTC 1 SC34 Microsoft stacking is 34.375 ( 11/32 ):

    1 Canada Mr. John WEIGELT Microsoft
    2 Côte d’Ivoire Mr. Wemba OPOTA Microsoft West And Central Africa
    3 Finland Mr. Kimmo BERGIUS Microsoft Finland
    4 Germany Mr. Mario WENDT Microsoft Deutschland GmbH
    5 India Mr. Vijay KAPUR Microsoft India Ltd
    6 Italy Mr. Andrea VALBONI Microsoft
    7 USA Mr. Dave WELSH Microsoft
    8 Ecma Mr. Rex JAESCHKE Microsoft Corporation
    9 Ecma Mr. Jean PAOLI Microsoft Corporation
    10 Ecma Mr. Doug MAHUGH Microsoft Corporation
    11 Ecma Mrs. Isabelle VALET-HARPER Microsoft Corporation

  • Rob 2008/10/17, 07:52

    Orlando, the link you give is for attendance at Working Group 1 (WG1), one of several WG’s who held meetings at Jeju Island. The Plenary is the session when everyone in SC34 gets together, members of all WG’s as well as those not associated with a WG. The attendance for the Plenary session has not been posted.

    I remember my first SC34 Plenary, back in 2006. There were only 5 or 6 people attending the WG1 sessions and none from Microsoft. Now we have 32 total, 12 from Microsoft. Who knew XML was so exciting.

  • Anonymous 2008/11/27, 10:43

    Ecma members are not full participants as they are not members in ISO/IEC.
    They do not vote in any ISO matters.

Leave a Comment