Wow - this week has been truly 1800-UNBELIEVABLE (to use the phrasing of Andrew Dice Clay). Almost a week ago we sat down in the Danish National Comittee to try to reach consensus about a guidance to Dansk Standard to help them decide the Danish vote of DIS 29500. As reported by Dansk Standard in their press-release, we failed to do so.
Dansk Standard: After the Ballot Resolution Group meeting the committee was unable to reach consensus as to whether it was decided to incorporate all Danish comments into the final standard. Another point of disagreement was the state of maturity of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML as an ISO/IEC standard.
The meeting took the better part of 8 hours and was, at least to me, extremely tough and exhausting. I am sure we all know the feeling and energy-level after pulling an all-nighter at work, and as the sun rises in the morning, the team decides to go home, catch a few hours of sleep and meet again for lunch. The feeling you have when you step out of the building in the cold morning air - this was exactly how I felt when the meeting was done. Add to this the sensation that "I'm not sure we're gonna make it after all". It was not good. This was Wednesday evening. On Thursday evening the mood was remarkably better since during the day, we had come to the conclusion that is was not that bad after all and that we had done everything we could - given the circumstances at the meeting.
The only thing regarding consensus we could agree on was this (my translation):
The committee requests that Dansk Standard, as best as they possibly can, honors the technical work that the committee has done. The committee asks that Dansk Standard takes note of the fact that the committee did not reach a consensus regarding if Denmark should change its vote on March 29th 2008.
Friday - damn! I had actually expected the anti-OOXML-mob to perform a DOS-attack on the process during the last 14 days before the ISO/IEC deadline. Surprisingly, this did not happen. Well, in Denmark it happened on Friday morning. Dansk Standard had promised to notify the committee by email before making their decision public - but they had said nothing about when. So Friday was quite an anxitious day. It began with an interview with Morten Messerschmidt (Dansk Folkeparti), where he basically told Dansk Standard to maintain the original "Dissaprove"-vote if no consensus could be reached. The debate on the two primary IT-websites in Denmark increased during the morning hours and information from the meeting began to leak to the media. Countless emails were exchanged between delegates from the BRM to figure out what was happening on a global scale. At 12.10 the email arrived in my mailbox.
The rest, you could say, is history.
Almost immediately the conspiracy-theories started to flow and the influx of leaked (and sometimes false information) information increased. Even before the announcement it was obvious to me, that the anti-OOXML-lobby, in case they lost, would attack the process and I was sadly correct. Within minutes after the announcement, they started attacking Dansk Standard. Friday afternoon the vice director of Dansk Standard, Jesper Jerlang, was interviewed and he denied any allegations that the process was not carried out in a proper manner. He commented on a couple of things in the interview. First he commented on the basis of changing the Danish vote:
Background-inf: Denmark had 168 comments that we went to Geneva to fight for. All these comments were approved (with one, small, outstanding issue) and will become part of the IS 29500, if it is accepted.
Jesper Jerlang: So even though there is no consensus as to whether the 168 suggestions have been fully implemented, we believe that we are so well on the way that the demands for an approval have been met
He also commented on the process, saying that (my translation):
Jesper Jerlang: So even though there is no consensus that all 168 comments have been fully implemented, we believe that we have come so far, that the conditions for an approval has been met
One of the flanks of criticisme has been whether undue influence by major companies had taken place, and he had the following to say about this (my translation)
Jesper Jerlang: There has been a lot of political focus on the process, but the process was carried out completely by the rules, so there has been no deviations. Vi have naturally taken care of that the discussion was focused on the content and not the process, but it is clear, that there is commercial politics in this matter, and it is also the reason that the committee, at the final hour, does not reach consensus - but we knew this from the beginning: That at this point, there would be to sides that would each one fight for their views. This is why we have made a great effort to manage the process by the rules, so that we have been complety comfortable saying, that on the basis of the process we have been through, we have been able to decide how we best take care of the Danish interests, as they are written in the list of comments from the committee
So what do we do now? Well, first we await the final tally from ISO/IEC and then, regardless of the out-come, we all get back to work. In Dansk Standard we continue with the next subjects at hand, most prominently ODF v1.2, should OASIS decide to do this in ISO.
Oooh - and the blame-game will likely continue for a couple of weeks.