Some “short notes” to share with you:
From a GrokLaw news pick we hear that ZDNet’s David Berlind recently interviewed Tim Berners-Lee in Boston, where Sir Tim received the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Watch the whole interview if you have 12 minutes, though I will transcribe one passage which highlights the importance of agreeing on a single open standard for a problem domain and fostering competition among the applications built upon that standard:
It was the standardization around HTML that allowed the web to take off. It was not only the fact that it is standard, but the fact that its open and the fact that it is royalty-free.
So what we saw on top of the web was a huge diversity and different business which are built on top of the web given that it is an open platform.
If HTML had not been free, if it had been proprietary technology, then there would have been the business of actually selling HTML and the competing JTML, LTML, MTML products. Because we would”t have had the open platform, we would have had competition for these various different browser platforms, but we wouldn’t have had the web. We wouldn’t have had everything growing on top of it.
So I think it very important that as we move on to new spaces … we must keep the same openness we that had before. We must keep an open internet platform, keep the standards for the presentation languages common and royalty free. So that means, yes, we need standards, because the money, the excitement is not competing over the technology at that level. The excitement is in the businesses and the applications that you built on top of the web platform.
Well said. I tried to make a similar point, but with pictures, back in February.
I recently ordered some podcasting equipment. It should arrive tomorrow. I will be looking for people to interview soon. So hide while you can, don’t answer the phone, and if it looks like I’m carrying a microphone, then run for the exit.
An interesting article in the American Surveyor, by Joel Leininger, on the importance of file format standards. Although it is a different application domain, the concerns are very similar (via OpenMalaysia).
Anyone know Romanian? Something gives me the impression that this guy from Microsoft Romania is not complementing me. I wonder what subtle hint gives me that impression…
The OOXML ballot marches on in national standards committees around the world. September 2nd is the deadline, though many committees have earlier deadlines for developing their recommendations. In the US the committee looking at OOXML is called INCITS V1, and we have until July 13th. V1 has had a few meetings so far and we’re just starting to get into the technical comments. Since we have a consensus process, all it takes is a small minority of members to bring everything to a halt, which is pretty much what is happening. For example, we spent 2 1/2 hours today and discussed only two comments. So we risk having a perfunctory technical review of OOXML. When I compare this to the BSI’s excellent work developing detailed comments on a publicly-readable wiki, I think we in the US should be ashamed at the stonewalling going on in V1.
I’ll be hosting a V1 face-to-face meeting in a couple weeks in Washington, DC. Hopefully we’ll make some more substantial progress there. If you really want to follow our work closely, you can read through our mailing list archives which Sun’s Jon Bosak was kind enough to set up for us.
Although no formal call for public comments has gone out, we’ve received a number of unsolicited pro-OOXML letters which you can read here. As you can see, they are pretty much identical form letters, all ending with the artless phrase, “Furthermore, Open XML in no way contradicts any other international document standard.” Remind anyone of the Manchurian Candidate’s, “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life”?
In any case, if you want to provide input into this process, feel free to send in your thoughts as well. Having read many of these letters myself, I’d offer the following advice:
- Don’t send in a form letter. It hurts your cause more than helps it, since it makes it look like you couldn’t get real support if you tried.
- Use your real name and email address and postal address, so we know you are a real person and not a robot.
- Be polite. Remember you are trying to persuade.
- Give a succinct, reasoned opinion. Keep it to a page if you can.
- Ask for a specific action. Don’t expect the reader to draw a conclusion. Draw it yourself.
Of course, since V1 is developing the US position on OOXML, comments from US companies and citizens are especially welcome. Also, if you have specific technical comments about OOXML, you can submit them through me and, if I agree with your points, I will raise them directly with the committee. (I do this as a personal favor to you, my readers, not as an official INCITS V1 solicitation.) Assume the committee is already familiar with the GrokLaw items. But OOXML is a big standard, and there are certainly dark corners where I have not ventured. So if you’ve found something new, certainly let me know.
Canada continues to solicit comments on OOXML. And the UK is soliciting comments as well, through June 30th. Again, be succinct, and give your name and address. Otherwise you risk having a committee member reject your comment outright since it cannot be ascertained whether you are actually a resident of that country.
A blog I’d like to recommend to my readers is Lodahl’s blog. Leif Lodahl has been giving some great coverage of ODF happenings in Denmark, including analysis of the parliamentary debate on the question of whether Denmark should have one or two standards. Also a good catch of Microsoft dancing all over the place, trying to avoid giving a straight answer on why Word does not provide integrated ODF capabilities. If you can spare 45 minutes this is a great clip to listen to.