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   ISO and the Standards Golden Hammer (was Re: [xml-dev] You call thata st

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Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote (to Tim Bray):

> Whether I'm raving or not, your response to that late night hacking 
> was to help create an environment in which nothing is predictable 
> and anyone can stamp anything anyway they like and the 
> press will pick it up and run with it. You like the credit for being the 
> "co-inventor of XML" but don't accept any role in the damage done by the 
> gutting of ISO and the norms of standardization that stood 
> in your way.

Len, that's a bit hard to swallow.

ISO is an organization designed to handle negotiations among countries. 
That's not a bad idea for things that tend to depend on heavy national 
regulation, like, say, smokestack industry or retail, but it makes little 
sense for computer technology and networking standards -- our problem is not 
getting the Ukraine, Tanzania, and New Zealand to use the same standards, 
but getting the open source people, Nokia, IBM, and Nortel to play nicely 
together.  Using ISO's national-body structure for negotiating computer 
standards is about as effective as the two of us negotiating a mideast peace 
plan, then expecting Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon to thank us and 
implement it.

The fact is that ISO never did well with computer technology, either before 
*or* after XML.  We use the four-layer DoD networking stack, not the 
seven-layer ISO/OSI stack, and we look to the IETF, not ISO, for our 
protocols.  Even modest computer tech successes like SGML have been rare for 

If Tim tried to take even a bit of the credit for ISO's failure to break 
into the computer technology field, we could all rightly accuse him of 

All the best,



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