Whereas almost 60 years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established in international law these rights and freedoms:
- Freedom from discrimination by government or law (Article 2, Article 7).
- Freedom of movement within the borders of each state (Article 13.1).
- The right to participate in government (Article 21.1).
- The right of equal access to public services (Article 21.2).
Whereas these rights and freedoms are today accepted by every democratic government and backed by the constitutions of most states;
Considering that all countries are moving, at different rates and from different starting points, towards a society in which full and effective participation in government and society, and access to public services, education and opportunity, are increasingly dependent upon access to electronic communications;
We call on all governments to:
- Procure only information technology that implements free and open standards;
- Deliver e-government services based exclusively on free and open standards;
- Use only free and open digital standards in their own activities.
I signed. You should too.
Updated on 2008-04-10@10:47. Joel Spolsky recently published a very insightful piece called Martian Headsets on his personal blog Joel on Software. It's definitely recommended reading for everyone who deals with standards in some way. The core of his article is about the standards compliance of the upcoming Internet Explorer 8. IE8 presents a problem because, although it is pretty standards compliant, it renders a lot of websites quite badly. The problem is of course not in IE8 but in all the websites that were targeted at IE7, IE6 even lower.
The IE8 team presented a controversial solution that would have IE8 render all pages as if it were IE7 unless the developer specifically told IE that it would render well under IE8. Web designers worldwide revolted at the idea and the IE8 team changed its mind. But that still leaves the problem of what to do with all those sites that work badly in IE8.
In his piece, Joel tells us that there is no right answer. Whatever Microsoft chooses, it looses. Well, I disagree that it's this black-and-white. There is a third solution possible that allows IE8 to be fully standards compliant and ensures that the vast majority of websites will work just fine. In this article I will present three changes that Microsoft could implement that will allow the Internet Explorer 8 team to have its cake and eat it too.
A long time ago in a land far away there once was a prosperous town called Hamelin. Everything was perfect in Hamelin until the year the rats came. The rats ate up the grain, bit the townsfolk in the toes and scared the young children. Something had to be done!
And so begins Rob Weir's allegory The Legend of the Rat Farmer. An allegory in which the Bürgermeister and Council of Hamelin try to find a solution to their rat problem, discover the importance of appropriate metrics and learn a thing or two about standardization in the process.
Rob gives a very good explanation of exactly what is wrong with Microsoft's latest claims that “choice [of standards] is good for the consumer”. Read it at An Antic Disposition.
Well the results are in, and an unprecedented nineteen countries have responded during the contradictions phase - most or all lodging formal contradictions with Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC), the ISO/IEC body that is managing the Fast Track process under which OOXML (now Ecma 476) has been submitted. This may not only be the largest number of countries that have ever submitted contradictions in the ISO/IEC process, but nineteen responses is greater than the total number of national bodies that often bother to vote on a proposed standard at all.
Ordinarily, contradictions would be posted at the JTC1 site relatively quickly. However, in this case I am told, Ecma will be given the opportunity to prepare responses before the contradictions will be posted, with a deadline of February 28. On or before that date, Ecma will respond with its proposed "resolution" for each contradiction. Once this has been received, JTC 1 will publish the response, accompanied by the text of the contradictions themselves, as submitted by the national bodies. At that point, a decision can be made on the next step.
From: The Standards Blog.
ANSI/INCiTS has completed their review of Ecma 376, and is ready to cast their ISO/IEC Contradiction Review Phase Fast Track Ballot in favor of Ecma 376 being rammed through ISO, as Sam Hiser points out in his PlexNex blog:
Rather than confront the clear evidence of contradictions and inconsistencies, the brave hearts at ANSI/INCiTS choose to narrow the definition of what a contradiction is. And narrow it they did. They decided that one standard contradicts another standard only if the proposed standard causes the existing standard not to work. […] Because both files can physically exist on the same disk without interfering with each other, our champions determined that OOXML did not contradict ODF. Maybe they thought this would go unnoticed, but as one disheartened friend of open standards pointed out:
“this argument can be used for every XML format, every programming language, every operating system, in fact every software standard, since software is ultimately data, and data can be segregated on disks. So they essentially chose a definition so narrow that it nullified the concept of ‘contradiction’ for most of what JTC1 has authority over.”
I can only hope that the European standards institutes have more sense and see ANSI's recommendation for what it is and fight this thing untill the end.
From: Open Stack.
Two organisations, OpenForum Europe (OFE), a leading organisation set up to advance the use of open standards, and ODF Alliance, a campaigning group promoting open document format, representing over 210 organisations in 30 countries, highlight that the new standard, Microsoft licensed Office Open XML, is being fast tracked to become a new European ISO/IEC standard. This new standard has been submitted by ECMA, the European Computer Manufacturers Association with a completely unrealistic deadline for stakeholders to engage.
One of the OFE’s and ODF Alliance’s main criticisms targeted at ECMA’s standard is its complexity. It is over 6,000 pages long, excluding supporting material, making it time consuming and ultimately more expensive for the future development of software. It also duplicates an existing comprehensive and recently ratified) standard Open Document Format (ODF) which causes a major issue of system complexity, development, maintenance, archiving and licensing. Furthermore, elements of ECMA’s standard contradict the recently ratified ODF standard, which if implemented, would lead to confusion for software developers, increase cost and leading to problems sharing and archiving documents. There are also serious doubts that the standard could be implemented outside the Microsoft environment, due to license requirements that are not made explicit.
ACTION: Write to your local standards organisation setting out your concerns, recommending that an issue of this importance should be reasonable given time for proper consideration and due diligence. A 30 day Fast Track Procedure is not appropriate for a 6000 page document. Contact list on the ODF Alliance European Website.