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oiic-formation-discuss message

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Mr. Chairman, I raise a point of order under the rules.

I rise to object to the manner in which the Chair is presently
conducting this meeting.

While the Chair's method of discussing multiple agenda items
simultaneously was workable when only a few people were participating,
the number of concurrent items of discussion and persons discussing
them has mushroomed beyond my capacity to participate effectively. I
estimate that with my current backlog of unread messages to this list,
were the list server to go down immediately and not come back up until
I had caught up, it would take me more than a workday simply to read
them and many more days to respond to items that concern me, based on
my recollection of what I have read so far and projecting a like
proportion into the future.

Tracking what posts I have responded to and finding my way back to
them has also become unmanageable. At the present point, I have been
up working my way through the mess for approaching 42 hours. I am not
a young man, I am disabled and have serious health issues that require
that I maintain a slower pace than that at which this meeting is being

Such difficulties are compounded by the lack of a competent system for
submission, tracking, and processing of  of agenda items, the order in
which they are being processed, a specified format and means of
identification for submission of agenda items.

 This mailing list is an inadequate means of processing the
information flowing through it. If there is an agenda, I have no idea
where it is. If there is a method of tracking what is suggested,
proposed, and decided, I have no idea where it is. From the glimpses I
have had over the last two days, the chair appears to be tracking
discussions by thread, and maintaining multiple records of discussion
items scattered through many threads su- records of cumulative agenda
items in each thread by quoting, cutting, pasting, and summarizing the
state of the agenda in each thread with new posts records of the
agenda items and their processing in multiple threads.

The Chair appears to be responding to to the flood of participation in
a manner that leaves me without any competent awareness of what is
happening. For example, twice in the last 24 hours I have encountered
threads I had not previously read in which the Chair had already
proclaimed consensus on a list of items regarding which I wish to be

Moreover, I have personally experienced signs that the Chair himself
is moving far too fast. For example, I put many hours into a response
to the chair's request for assistance in assembling the section (1)(d)
list of deliverables and supplemented it with a list of further items
I proposed to be placed on the deliverables list for discussion. See
my post here. <http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/oiic-formation-discuss/200806/msg00260.html>.
The chair's response was so hurried that the snipping removed several
items. For others, I can not tell which proposal the chair was
responding to,

More disturbingly, the Chair rejected several of my proposals rather
than placing them on the agenda for discussion, ruling that they would
be decided by the TC once formed rather than being put on the agenda
for discussion  E.g., "I'm not hearing a consensus to dictate any
specific technology for this.  So by default, we'll defer to the new
TC to investigate the possibilities."

How the Chair determined a lack of consensus is beyond me, since the
Chair's post was the next after mine in that thread and to my
knowledge there was no poll of participant's positions. So far as I am
aware, the Chair is the only person on the list who has opposed my
proposal that the TC be tasked with filling the interoperability
framework void in the ODF standard with the W3C Compound Documents by
Reference Framework, and requiring that all profiles developed by the
new TC conform to that framework's specifications for development of

My understanding is that the Chair may permissibly rule matters out of
order, but rejecting proposals for deliverables himself does not
accord with my sense of the Chair's proper role. The Chair is not an
arbiter. His task is to conduct the meeting, not to dictate its
results .

I attribute the Chair's behavior to coping with the work overload
rather than to any desire to maintain ODF interoperability in its
crippled state. But the present system being used to process agenda
items is no longer workable. We are overwhelmed by the sheer number of
participants in trying to work with just a mailing list.

This is not to suggest that I am displeased with the broad
participation. Far from it, I think a major weakness of most standards
bodies is that they have too little public participation and that as a
result big vendors wind up drafting standards that meet their needs
rather than the needs of software users and independent developers. I
welcome broader participation. But if there is to be broader
participation, there must be a revamping of the system for
participation. Email was never designed for large group meetings.

I therefore respectfully suggest that the chair consider the following
suggestions (not in any particular order and not necessarily mutually
exclusive). (I do not intend by offering these suggestions to hold any
monopoly on suggestions, which is why I have designated them as
suggestions rather than motions).

1. An immediate moratorium be declared on  further decisions in regard
to the work product of this formation group while the chair conducts a
discussion of short-term steps to improve the situation.;

2. Convene one or more small committees to study the participation,
process, and infrastructure issues;

3. Solicit suggestions for process improvement;.

4. That the number of agenda items being processed concurrently be
limited to two.

5. Lean harder on OASIS to make the software used for TC work
available for this group because of the exceptional circumstances.
(Oasis has some legal responsibilities to ensure that the formation
process is conducted fairly and in a manner that allows for effective

6. Postpone work on the Charter to first conduct a rough market
requirements assessment. In my opinion, market requirements must be
identified before a rational charter can be drafted to fulfill them.

7. Designate committees for various aspects of the formation work and
push OASIS to create a separate mailing list for each committee.

8. Create one or or small web pages with a rough guide on how the
meeting's work is processed that can easily be linked to as new
partipants appear.

9. Migrate the formation project to Sourceforge or a similar site with
a more appropriate package of services.

10. Other?

Best regards,

Paul Merrell (
Universal Interoperability Council

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