My almost final post on ooxml

I am annoyed and disappointed. Why is it that people are just not willing to listen to simple and reasonable requests? For all the gesturing on both the ooxml supporters and detractors, all we are discussing here is about some stupid file formats. File Formats. What a criminal waste of resources in terms of time, money, intellect and above all credibility in pursuing File Formats.

I am an electical/computer engineer. My worldview says that in order for me to do my profession, I need to be able to read and react to information – be it designing a chip, writing a device driver or just having fun building stuff. It tells me that I have to have as much information as possible about the tasks I am trying to investigate and make work or deploy.

Fortunately, all the chip vendors of the world published the specs of their devices, complete with application notes etc etc. In my time, I have found some hardware bugs and got it fixed in the next rev of the hardware. All done with the view of enabling as many people as possible in deference and in compliance with a set of ethics as exemplified by the IEEE Code of Ethics which I am including here:

We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree:

1. to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment;

2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when they do exist;

3. to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data;

4. to reject bribery in all its forms;

5. to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, and potential consequences;

6. to maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations;

7. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others;

8. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin;

9. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action;

10. to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics.

I am finding that the ooxml debate is not compliant with my ethics. I have seen/read/know of items related to #4 above and seen efforts to undermine #5 above.

Ultimately, it is a battle of corporate interests against technical accuracy. Throwing out ooxml in its current form to the original authors to come back with all the proposed fixes included and to submit to a proper non-expedited process is what we need. I do not want my country to be held accountable to agreeing or disagreeing to something that has issues – even if these “issues” can be resolved post-approval.

Many people are arguing that an abstain vote would be a good one. I think that is a cop out, because the ISO voting scheme would then ignore abstentions. Look at the way the BRM votes went. The vast majority of delegations abstained, and when things were counted, the yea sayers were way less than 20%. How is that then a consensus? I continue to be troubled by all of this.

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