void life(void)

It was published today on ISO’s website a press release announcing that “…The two ISO and IEC technical boards have given the go-ahead to publish ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML formats…”, stating that “…None of the appeals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela received the support for further processing of two-thirds of the members of the ISO Technical Management Board and IEC Standardization Management Board…. ” That’s it, accepting the recommendation of the ISO Secretariat (use the link to also read the full appeals). Moreover, if the ISO secretariat recommend something different than that, wouldn’t they be publicly stating their guilty?

The press release don’t mention the arguments used to reject the appeals, and don’t provide any aditional information or arguments about the appealed items. The ballot listing ins’t also disclosed. As I already wrote earlier, the curtain of smoke that is covering and covered this whole process, works again in favour of those who enjoy the obscurity.

There’s a simple question that comes on my mind: What would happen if this appeal had been presented by England, United States, Germany and France? Do you believe that he would be summarily ignored as it was?

Brazil, India and South Africa were treated as second-line countries during the BRM, and together with Venezuela, the four were now treated with irrelevance again. This is for me a clear and concrete signal: ISO IS NOT ANYMORE THE  APPROPRIATE AND LEGITIM FORUM TO DEAL WITH THE STANDARDISATION NEEDS AND ASPIRATIONS OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

The entity was created in the “industrial era” and at this moment, presents clear signs of inadequacy to the “information era” in which we live. It is clear to everyone involved on the DIS 29500 (OpenXML)  analysis process that it was distorted by commercial and business interests, presenting to all who want to see, the ways in which corporations influence in decisions that are theoretically of national sovereignty (and not corporate ones). It is also clear the forced legitimacy of a mistaken process, through the participation of many countries, even though most of them have only the right to AGREE. If not fulfil their role and DISAGREE, they are ignored as we were.

As a Brazilian and as a person who lost a year of life working seriously on it, I can only feel offended and attacked with this decision.

I believe that the time has come for developing countries unite to build an International Standardization Institution that is appropriate to our reality, that understands our problems and aspirations and that treat us with the minimum amount of respect and dignity. Enough to be being used to legitimize the desires of someone else. While we’re in developement, we have the unique opportunity to develop (and change) the world and, we cannot let it go away.

I would also like to invite all those people and organizations in developing countries or not, that want to build a more just and equity based world, to unite us all in this initiative. Throughout all this process, I’m really tired of seeing good people being silenced and I believe we need and must do something about it.

Since I’ve lost a year of my life being used to legitimize such an atrocity, I’ll pleasuring spend the other ones that left me to work seriously to provide that this never happens again, and create an International Stadardization Institute that has the justice and equity as basic premises, is in my opinion the first step. We live on a Globalized world, and we all have things to learn with each other: let us give a chance to ourselves.

I thank the friends from India, South Africa and Venezuela that, as Brazil, did not accept the rule of ALWAYS AGREE and fought until the last moment simply to be heard. If they don’t want to hear us, it is because we are talking to the wrong people. Enough to spend our scarce resources and our energy with these people.

Let us build a better world. Lets go to work.


54 Responses to “OpenXML: End of story - appeals rejected”

  1. Luiz F. Maluf

    As a Brazilian, i entirely subscribe and endorse this fantastic article.
    A final question for all of us from the lands of the “Sabia”:
    Is it merely plutocracy or simply (still…..) colonialism?


  2. Max

    I live in Europe and I’m as disappointed as you are; a lot of people are and they’re all over the world. I feel the whole OOXML business has been ridiculous. ISO has obviously sold out, but I’m unsure about how founding a competing organization would be better than reorganizing ISO (without remorse) from the inside out. That said, I see your point about people not listening to developing countries, though I also feel techies are ignored in general as OOXML should have been killed on technical (dis)merrits…

    I still have some hope for the EC investigation. Maybe Mrs. Kroes can save the day (again)?

  3. stephen bungay

    I heartily agree. The ISO has made fools of themselves and any new “standards” they approve. Humanity needs real and free (as in freedom) data interchangeability, we risk loosing information for the sake of business interests, when we should be seeking ways to ensure that information is accessible and usable into the far-distant future. OOXML will, IMHO, not help us (as a race) achieve this end.

  4. Peter Rowell

    @Max — I think it might be next to impossible to reorganize the ISO from the inside out. An organization that has shown themselves to the world to be morally bankrupt will put up an amazing struggle to stay that way. Forming a new group should be relatively straightforward: take the parts of ISO’s process that you like, clean the bullshit off some of the other parts, and then make sure that the process itself cannot be hijacked in the future.

    This action by the ISO may very well be looked back on as one of the dying sounds of the dinosaurs of the “The Developed World”. I’m an American, so I have already experienced 8 years of bitterness from seeing a great country brought low by corruption, greed, and nasty, brutal politics that have nothing to do with our Constitution. I hope that Brazil, India, China and all of the other “developing countries” can learn from the mistakes of others.


  5. Boycott Novell » Shame on ISO and Shame on Microsoft for Corrupting ISO

    […] we mentioned ISO and its latest outrageous decision. It was no surprise. Reactions have arrived from Brazil, from Massachusetts and from […]

  6. Luc Bollen

    Please note that the real culprit here is “JTC1″ rather than “ISO”: JTC1 is made up of the ISO committee and the IEC committee in charge of IT standards.

    JTC1 has its own directives, which differs from both the ISO and the IEC directives. The initial problem (allowing OOXML to be fastracked) is due to the lax JTC1 directives.

    This being said, it appears now that both the ISO and the IEC Secretaries-general are covering the mess created by JTC1…

  7. p,cole

    Pete is correct in that our elected officials, whether in the US or Europe, have prostituted themselves to corporate greed.

    If JTC1 is the culprit, ISO still bears the stain since they’re doing their best to cover it up. It would be in the best interest to either eliminate (layoff, fire) the management of ISO; if that can’t happen, then I don’t see why a new International Standardization Institution cannot be created.

  8. crashsystems

    Thank you for taking a stand against such an absurd standard. I can assure you, I am not the only United States citizen who is ashamed of my country’s role in this OpenXML trickery.

  9. Mike Fogarty

    Let me join in as another American who is appalled by the whole process. Seeing something so corrupt done so publicly makes me realize we have been enslaved.Our masters no longer feel the necessity of concealing their oppression.

  10. Graucho

    How can ooxml become an ISO standard if it’s not even supported by M$ (i.e. it’s a “work in progress”, does not adhere to the paperwork submitted). Isn’t it suppose to be a finished product before ISO consideration?

    ODF has been used for a long time; has more people using it; it’s standard at many government and education agencies (the latest being the Malaysian state).

    Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela are not small states. Ignoring the appeals will lead to a huge disenfranchisement. Anything standards coming out of the ISO will be ignored. It’s only common sense to dump a system which doesn’t work anymore. ISO is not doing it’s job, so, eradicate it.

    The common man will use a standard by the people, for the people and the few corporate elite will use theirs (that is, their secretaries will).

  11. Boycott Novell » IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 15th, 2008 - Part II

    […] http://homembit.com/2008/08/openx… and http://www.consortiuminfo.org/stand… […]

  12. Carsten

    I’m from Germany and am disappointed about the decision of the ISO. A standard should only be approved once the objections of all members have been tackled. The decision is a disgrace and I hope there are more people who will make their opinion about this public.

  13. Here’s another American who agrees with you that this MS OOXML process was corrupted. I’m not sure what Microsoft exactly did to corrupt these high officials, but whatever it was, it surely worked.


  14. Thejesh GN

    Me too was disappointed a lot with OOXML becoming standard. The world should realize that India and Brazil has a big role in the the future.

  15. Pieter Hintjens

    The OOXML process is a disgrace. ISO have shown themselves to be unsuited for the work of building new standards for the Digital age.

    We’ve been working to build the Digital Standards Organization, www.digistan.org. Read the Hague Declaration, sign it, blog about it.

    The only way to get proper open standards for our future is to make them ourselves.

  16. Peregrino

    Hi Jomar,

    First of all, congrats to you and all people working to do the right thing: let OOXML be approved by its own technical merits or get rejected otherwise. Although none of them actually happened, I would like to add that I don’t think you’ve lost one year of your life: you fought the good fight and no one can really lose in that case. Be proud of your achievements so far and let’s move on, to see what can still be done. I think, if we can prove corruption was part of that proccess, why not trying to let ISO’s board of directors fall? If such a standardisation organization is really tainted by corruption, I think this would be the way to go. Let’s make them aware that world is no longer at the position to accept such outrageous decision passively.

  17. Sebastian Sauer

    A sad day even if it was expected to happen :-/


  18. Boycott Novell » ISO Won’t Throw OOXML Out. Time to Throw ISO Out?

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  19. Michael "one more" Howell

    Another American appalled by the ludicrous acceptance of OOXML.

    Let a standard win because it’s a good standard, let it die if it isn’t.

  20. […] | user-saved public links | iLinkShare 1 votesOpenXML: End of story - appeals rejected>> saved by keene 1 days […]

  21. Christophe

    I am French, working in Romania, and I fully agree with your views and conclusions. I am ashamed of the behaviour of my country and the ISO itself. If new countries build something to replace ISO, I will sure be in.

    Does someone know about a reaction from Google or IBM, companies that have spent time and men implementing ISO 26300 (OpenDocument)?

  22. Lone Ranger

    I think if England or USA had appealed then their appeals would have been treated the same, i.e. summarily rejected. So don’t feel that Brazil is being treated like a 2nd class citizen - the whole world are 2nd class citizens when they get in the way of Microsoft and its paid-for international standard.

    At this stage it’s important to ignore and reject ISO29500 in all countries and businesses throughout the world. Say “I reject this proprietary and ill-conceived standard, approved through a process of ballot stuffing and partisanship. My [country|company|family] will not use ISO29500 and we dispute the legitimacy of ISO for accepting it as a standard.”

  23. Jomar Silva

    I would like to thank all comments received.

    Rob Weir has posted a good explanation regarding the votes on ISO - http://www.robweir.com/blog/2008/08/giving-finger-to-dis-29500-appellants.html

    It seems that ISO didn’t understood the results, as sad as it seems.

    I’m very impressed, because I can’t believe that those folks are the same that developed all ISO standards until today. Or they are really getting crazy and need urgent mental assistance or there is something very bad running on ISO’s corridors…

  24. Bjorn Thrane


    I am Danish and feel ashamed that my country didn’t stand by your side. - Make sure that Neelie Kroes (EU Competetion Commissioner) reads your story. She will love it.

    Keep fighting & smiling

  25. Ant

    I am Australian, and also ashamed of the farcical result of this process. It is unimaginable how ISO/IEC/JTC1 could fail to follow its own rules, and rush through approval to such an unfinished proposed standard.

  26. Graucho

    Jomar, do you know about http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080818210448740. Also the move Malaysia has made to ODF?

  27. SmallIsBeautiful

    So what do you propose we do?
    I’ve wasted a year myself, going from pillar to post doing investigations, consultations and what not (although in opensource, these words are not used). End result is zero because the chiefs of the free software community, still, after this much drama and public sabre-rattling, after _one_ _full_ _year_ of duelling, wants to keep their personal egos ahead of common good. They are great chiefs, highly placed and very much in jobs. We who work and toil, are seen as instruments of enjoyment. Ruling ornaments write elaborate articles full of hypocrisy when donations are the simplest thing to be done and communication channels from the past are wide open. The chiefs cannot be bent to apologize for their misdeeds. And so it stays. Just as in your case bending will mean that ISO will permanently scar you with “rogue” whereas they are actually rogues, similarly, for some like me with a forced “rogue” tag, if I consider compassion or pragmatism, we’ll be held responsible for their excesses.
    A tribal chief can do no wrong, after all, isn’t it?
    Here in India, bickering continues as usual. Submission to the Empire is the only way as long as the tribal chiefs do not give up behaving like the Empire’s clones.
    I mean every word of this. Unless the top people in the free software community realize that they are the source of the obstructions and problems, giving RTFM and STFU training to alpha-males (real or fake), a strong united response is only a dream.
    Those who need to know, know I am talking about them.
    Learn to treat non-giants with respect, for eventually you will not write all the code yourselves, will you? Non-giants need to run the code you right. I mean, if you guys keep Linux in your high closed circles and keep this atmosphere or discrimination and constant back-biting, opensource is not going to be very popular. Learn the A B C of this - at some point you have to start accepting normal people and stop behaving as though you are the lofty and sole guardians of greatness and virtue.

    I’ve given up on you guys.
    It is just that here another person has felt robbed of a year that I felt that I must highlight that such events happen in the open source community as well.
    OF course, if you chiefs are that great, you could nuke microsoft with some more Halloween documents also, but then that is not a public protest is it? Then why did you waste so much of others’ time ?
    I dont deliberately waste other people’s time. See? That’s the BIG difference.

  28. SmallIsBeautiful

    To repeat for clarity, in case legal decorations make a mistake, why not quietly donate through past channels, instead of writing a big tom-tom article in a big publication to settle an imaginary score?

  29. Jimmy the Geek

    It is not over yet, I am sure there is an appeal process for their dismissal of the objections.

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  31. SmallIsBeautiful

    baniso.org and isocheat.org are not yet taken.

  32. SmallIsBeautiful

    If you really REALLY want to send a message across to the whole wide world, stop distributing Linux in .iso file formats for the while till they reconsider their decision to butcher democratic appeals. Then run articles all over the web as to why Linux is considering using another fileformat for distribution. Just like php has started a new archive format - “phar” simply give a new name to the ISO9660 format - call it NISO - “NOT ISO”. Keep this campaign up till they bend. They MUST NOT get corrupt.
    To hell with their bribes. Any more bright ideas … can be thought of and used ! ;-)

  33. SmallIsBeautiful

    As I’ve said before, I like a peaceful life. After one more round of wasted efforts, I think it wise to give up this latest activism too. I’m sorry, I can’t be an activist the way you want me to. I gave you my time. I’ve kept my side of the promise. You’ve failed your side of it time and again.

    Sorry everyone, I am forced to write this topic in a public forum because a public instigation needs a defense in a public forum.

    There is only this much crap a person can take. I thought I could help with my two lines. Not true. These chiefs know all the tricks and they could easily choose a more capable person. Wasting my time is probably diabolically entertaining to them, I dont know.
    I personally hate to be in a position where I point fingers at chiefs of the tribe. I have already twice got the music. But, at the minimum I must defend myself. No one else will fight for me.

    As it is, big open source companies use powerful tools like press contacts to showcase one side of the story. If I speak against them, I’m a rebel, a Tito-de-Raadt with only a big mouth and no skills. So I should “get lost”.
    That’s the line I’ll get. **I accept that happily** !! <– read this again!!

    Power corrupts. This is true wherever humans go, in whatever industry they are. Exposing people and malpractice is the job of stalwarts like Harald Welte, EFF, FSF and co.
    Not mine.

    Some of you guys are already googling frantically for all the keywords I’ve written here.
    Just imagine what will happen when I present a public case. So, I’ll rather quit.
    Yes, I’m a coward. <– note this too!!

    I foolishly trusted an opensource company to be honest and ethical. For not having gone public with an expose with email proofs and all, I am facing this much. Imagine what will happen if I actually name people.

    Patience is a virtue, but limitless patience is **useless**.
    First you make me go around for 12 months doing “activism and ground work”
    And then deny every opportunity of making a penny from opensource to even to *survive*.
    It’s one thing to sacrifice and another to sacrific for a despot.
    I will obviously need opensource software for many reasons, but contrary to what I thought, opensource definitely does not need me.
    And I am absolutely not ready to make myself available to public scrutiny of my private life. Which is where you guys are taking it.
    “All in good fun” has its limits. Excesses or extremes in anything is bad, as other Masters would suggest.

    Look, I like to write code, not articles.
    Get this very very straight:
    I usually complain little, and after much hesitation, because complaining never works. I was taught the way of protest by you FSF goons. Then my protest is used against me to keep me out. Nice con job, chiefs. This story is now over a year old.
    12 months of patience is perfectly good enough for a creature of my species.

    Again, your stock reponse will be to post a slashdot article with hints and taunts.
    And direct abuses on IRC.

    Ok, let me put it this way:

    after seeing the above text, do you think that I even remotely come close to being a respectable or reliable public figure?

    No. Not at all.

    Therefore, I am clearly a *failure* to work in opensource.
    I am a *failure* in playing public roles.
    I am a *failure* in leading anything to any sane result.

    I am only good to exagerrate ***complaints and complaint lists***.

    Now get this straight:
    If you have concluded as above, I fully, completely, unhestitatingly ***AGREE*** to this evaluation. I do not object in one tiny wee bit.

    ***** I am, I admit, *incompetent*, *loathsome* and otherwise *useless* *****

    Is that OK? Happy now? I plead guilty. Happy?

    Therefore, I cannot and will not take any more part in public activism for either opensource or a better world or anything that your freedom movements stand for.

    I do not want to go over to m$, unless there is no other option.
    I like the code and the licenses. That should be about enough.

    And I’ll stay out of this opensource activism / political hacktivism thing.
    Thank you.

  34. Marcio

    1) Ok, good, +1 OpenOffice Data Format, this time based on XML.
    2) What if this new format prove not to be so open ?
    Obs: Should not be that difficult to find any document created by Microsoft Office using any non documented OOXML specification, right ?
    3) Once found, the word is back to ISO.
    4) Goto line 2.

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