ooxml demo.jpg
For some reason, I continue to bump into demonstrations. Last weekend I visited London and many roads were blocked due to the Olympic flame passing through. And a few days ago I returned from keynoting the Go Open conference in Oslo – a very well organized event which attracted a solid audience of 600, all interested in open source and open standards – and it resolved into a demonstration too.

Although the happening in Oslo obviously was not on the same page as the one in London, I definitely could sympathise with the genuine emotions of the 150 people that showed up, protesting against the decision of the Norwegian standard body to approve Microsoft’s OOXML as an ISO-standard: a – well – rather strange democratic process since an overwhelming majority of the assigned technical committee had voted against it.

There is obviously a lot at stake in the world of standards for ‘office’ documents. But personally, I fail to see why an established organisation like ISO would approve a standard which overlaps considerably with an already in 2006 approved open standard (ODF, the Open Document Format). The very point of standards is that they bring simplicity and unification. Approving multiple, incompatible standards destroys these qualities.

Or was that the point in the first place?

I am not even diving into the discussion why a 6000+ page standard (which is said to include all bugs) would successfully qualify for approval. I guess it is now up to the market to establish the true standard, no matter what ISO decides. Luckily enough, governments and corporations can still make their own choices. If not, you’ll find me carrying around demonstration boards soon enough too.