Fronde Shows Up

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Update 1: Jim has since apologised for his comment. I very much appreciate that, not least because of the respect with which Jim and Fronde are held in the IT market place.

Update 2: Chris Auld is fearful of registering here in case of being spammed :-)

However, he has posted his first cut of notes on the SNZ meeting.

I'd like to assure Chris, if he gets the settings right, he can even avoid the occassional newsletter from the President.

Original Post:

The tone of this comment was unexpected, and perhaps even libelous to those that participated the two day Standards NZ workshop on OOXML this week.

Jim Donovan showed up for five minutes just before the close of the meeting. He hadn't actually listened to any of the debate or bothered to send one of his technical "experts" on whose advice he depended, to support his contentions. This was a shame as we were unable to question the basis of his statements, even if we had had the time.

There does seem to be a tactic to discredit or trivialise this technical debate by using terms like "zealot", "religion", "war" and so on. It may work in other countries, I doubt it will hold much water in New Zealand.

My response to Jim is this:

Hi Jim

The five minutes you gave us of your precious time were of course invaluable.

The picture you paint of the way the other 20 odd participants spent their two days participating in the StandardsNZ workshop seems to be based in your own preconceptions rather than reality. Doug Casement from IDC made a similar comment, again, having only turned up to give a 5 minute presentation at the end of the second day. His similarly incorrect assumption was pulled up by the Chairperson. Yours would have been as well if you had made these comments in that forum. If you could identify your caller that would at least help us place your post in context.

The purpose of the workshop was not to come to some sort of compromise or agreement. It was to give Standards NZ a view on the issues, good and bad, around having ISO approve the Ecma OOXML specification as suitable for an international standard.

Of course the technical debate was rigorous and sometimes very detailed, but it was also valuable as the Mircosoft expert from Redmond, Gray Knowlton, asserted. That was also the direct feedback I received from all members of the SNZ committee present. Indeed, they seemed pleased that the meeting hadn't descended into name calling and zealotry that people like yourself and Rod Drury had been predicting.

The comments that you and others are making seem to be more interested in undermining the technical discussions than adding any value to the process. This is a weak position.

I am also surprised you think the issue is unimportant given the very good example you gave of the cost to consumers of having multiple and incompatible wireless standards in the USA.

The fact that all the NZ government agencies took the time to consult, run workshops and, come to a common conclusion and to send four representatives to the SNZ workshops is an indication of the importance of this issue, Microsoft and software in general to our country.

And just to conclude, I thought Microsoft made some good comments, I also thought they failed to make a compelling case for having two ISO standards that do the same thing.

dave's picture


Thanks very much for your reports - it's been great to have your perspective. I'm pleased to hear of the retrospective qualifications Jim put on his position. I hope that the remainder of those present at the meeting have been made aware of them. It's great to hear that the different parties involved in the discussion were so civil and that mutual respect and proper process were maintained. Sadly, would appear that the SNZ meeting was quite atypical in that respect.

That said, I thought that the "no" vote from the Netherlands was accompanied by the most sensible suggestion for future submissions:
From the view of the international standardisation process Internet Society Netherlands feels that a submitting organisation of a standard should not actively seek to influence the local decision process in such a way.... recommends that the ISO procedures - and more specific the Fast Track procedure - be adapted significantly to better deal with controversial standards like DIS 29500/Office Open XML in order for ISO to maintain relevant. This includes demanding two interoperable and independent full implementations prior to accepting a submission for a Fast Track procedure.