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Irregular Injection of Opinion
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 Monday, June 01, 2009
Who Exactly is the ODF Alliance a Lobbyist For? Or Against?

So with all the brouhaha over the past few weeks following the Office SP2 release that supports ODF I found myself reading a ‘Summary of initial test results’ from the ODF Alliance. It’s piqued my interest somewhat. Here’s why.

One generally expects test results to be presented in a very objective way: something about the scientific method and all that jazz. Yet this document from the ODF Alliance includes such paragraphs as:

Microsoft has a rich history of implementing down-level versions of open standards; e.g., Java
in  Internet  Explorer,  where Microsoft  pre-installed an  incompatible version with proprietary
extensions and then to let it languish, failing to update it as the Java technology evolved.

There are indeed test results in the document as well and I’m happy to take those on face value- I’ve no doubt that as a first cut implementation on a de-novo code base the Microsoft implementation isn’t perfect, though I do note that they’ve been reasonably open about some ‘by-design’ choices not to implement proprietary extensions.

But back to the ‘Test Results’. For an organization that “seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format” I would have expected a greater degree of objectivity in such a technical report. Didn’t seem like cricket really. None of the other implementers seem to have been singled out for a special series of tests and certainly none of the other implementers appear to have been singled out for rebuke of the sort I pasted above.

Time for a little more digging then. Who exactly is this organization?

They’ve got a pretty long member list but I couldn’t find any details on either a constitution of the organization or any sort of governance structure. They do appear to have some local chapters but these appear to be even less objective and more hostile than the parent organization: take a look at OpenMalaysiaBlog.com for an example thereof. There are big names among the member list too; Sun, IBM and Google were all there so it’s definitely got some vendor backing there somewhere- but were these active members? Is there some sort of governance structure here? Is the above what the likes of De Bortoli Wines (makes of Australia’s most famous sticky) signed up to?

About the only thing to go on was the Contact page- But even that was limited to an email address and a phone number (area code 202 so Washington DC). Back to Google then.

I Googled ‘Marino Marcich’ and at the bottom of the page found a reference to the Software & Information Industry Association ironically in a mailing list post noting his removal from the OASIS ODF Mailing List. Past job maybe? A bit more Googling led me to the ODF Alliance Wikipedia page. Now I know you shouldn’t  believe everything you find on Wikipedia, but, it makes for Interesting reading: highly recommended to interested parties.

It looks to be closely related to the SIIA; Sharing offices (reportedly  but hard to confirm), sharing PR companies and indeed the SIIA is noted as one of the primary founders of the organization. But the Wikipedia article also notes, as I have above, the paucity of information about the actual governance of the organization.

The ODF Alliance was a key lobbyist against OpenXML (ECMA 376 now ratified as IS 29500) which I guess is fair enough in so far as that rather ‘robust’ process was concerned. But, I struggle to see why they should not now be taking a far more objective and constructive approach to the Microsoft implementation of ODF?

One has to wonder just what sort of Lobbyist the ODF Foundation actually is? A Lobbyist *for* ODF? Or a Lobbyist against Microsoft?

Rants|Monday, June 01, 2009 6:17:20 AM UTC|Comments [1]|