Andy Updegrove's Indian Fantasy

This morning, in my usual routine, I sipped a cup of coffee while reading the latest news around the Open XML file formats. I have a few blogs I follow regularly, and I also usually do a few searches to see what has been written in various media.

The 30- day contradiction comment period for Open XML just came to a close this week, so there were several new articles and blog posts about the continuing ISO standards process. (For those who don't know, the contradiction comment period is when the "national bodies" (NBs) take a look at whether a proposed standard prevents use of any existing ISO/IEC/JTC1 standards, and if so they can submit their perceived contradiction to JTC1 for possible resolution. I'm not going to get into all of the procedural details here, but Brian Jones has a good overview if you're curious.)

Anyway, in following links between various articles and blog posts this morning I came across a piece by Andy Updegrove in which he wrote this:

"According to one story, at least one of these countries (India) was considering responding by abstaining from voting, in protest over the extremely short amount of time provided to review the voluminous specification. Instead, it appears that it opted to knuckle down, finish its review, and submit contradictions instead."

Now, this piece rather surprised me. I happened to have returned from India less than 24 hours ago, and among other things, I was involved in some meetings and discussions with the people in India who have the responsibility of deciding whether to submit contradictions. I was very impressed with their thoroughness and interest in hearing all sides of the issues, and I certainly didn't know that they had submitted any contradictions to ISO.

Well, maybe Andy knows something I don't, or maybe he's just quoting somebody who got the facts wrong. There's been rather a lot of that getting-the-facts wrong stuff lately when it comes to file formats, you know. :-)

So I clicked on the link he provided, thinking I'd read about India "submitting contradictions" to ISO. But that article doesn't say any such thing! And in fact, when I followed the link I immediately recognized the article because I happen to have read it in New Delhi on Monday morning, a good 12 hours before India had responded to ISO on this matter. I remembered it because I got a good laugh out of the "against the human spirit" comment in it -- the Times of India never fails to make me laugh.

So let me get this right. Andy Updegrove makes up an Indian response to the ISO Fast-Track process, then to support his fabrication he links to an article that was published before India had even responded to ISO, and one which in any event makes no mention at all of India submitting a contradiction. And then, just to help get the word out, an IBM VP links to Andy's article to help him spread this fabrication. (Presumably they do it this way so that nobody at IBM is actually telling lies, they're just linking to the lies others tell on their behalf.)

Wow. Desperate times for IBM, it seems. And their respect for the ISO standards process is downright palpable, wouldn't you say?

By the way ... unlike Andy and his boosters, I won't actually discuss the details of what countries have filed during the 30-day comment period. That's not appropriate at this time, and certainly not appropriate for those who aren't actually speaking from firsthand knowledge. But I will say this: India's not the only misrepresentation on the list they're passing around today, by a long shot. It just happens to be the country where I've spent the last week, so I thought I'd comment on that specific one for now.