Low Standards (RULE or law edition)

Over at TLF I’ve had some exchanges with Braden Cox, an employee of the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying/publicity organization funded by Microsoft, who has been defending Microsoft’s actions during the approval of the OOXML standard.

I don’t think Bill is getting his money’s worth as Braden has been reduced to making the all-important distinction between RULES and laws. Why do RULES get ALL CAPS and laws just get lower case…?

Even Andy Updegrove, at his standards blog, has this lawyerly statement that casts doubt on whether RULES (not laws) were violated:
“While engaging in appeals in the case of OOXML may expose the inadequacy of the system to address such concerns, they will not solve them, nor necessarily result in a change of the vote in question, since existing rules may not in fact have been violated.”

Now Andy does call for an overhaul of how ICT standards bodies work (given what he perceives to be their increasing importance in society). That may be the case, and it’s probably worth exploring, but while related it’s a different debate from whether ISO did not follow their own rules, or whether there were OOXML approval “irregularities.”

So RULE BREAKING IS OK while law breaking would be bad, bad bad. In any case, we have to see what comes out after all the exchanges between Microsoft, their consultants and those involved in the standard setting process are subpoenaed to really know whether any laws were broken or if they WERE JUST RULES THAT WERE BROKEN.

In any case, notable is a wonderful speech by Steve Pepper, the widely respected chair of the SC34 mirror committee that reviewed OOXML for Standards Norway, who has brought attention to the fact that after a vote of 21 to 2 against approving OOXML, the Norwegian standards body had gone ahead and voted yes:

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Low Standards (RULE or law edition)