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Subject: Re: [CEFACT-EWG:24] RE: [ubl-comment] Fwd: Re: UBL and CEFACT

>At 12:19 PM 9/10/02, you wrote:
>Your statement: "OASIS does not believe that it has much ability to 
>constrain or limit the actions of its various committees" pretty well 
>surfaces the general issue I have with efforts to work on standards in a 
>loosely controlled organization.  *** Research is fostered by exercising 
>minimal control over the work program and by encouraging 
>competition.  Standards are fostered by exercising strong control over the 
>work program, and by encouraging cooperation. ***
>               Bob

     Hello Bob, nice to hear from you.   How exactly a standards group 
should behave is a hot topic these days.

     There have always been 'research' efforts and splinter 
groups.  Everyone who starts a new venture has their reasons.  Arguably, 
W3C was a decision not to play in ISO;  OASIS/SGML Open was a decision not 
to do XML in W3C;  ebXML was a decision not to do B2B XML in either;  WS-I 
was a decision by some to decamp out of ebXML.  Sometimes a split can 
simply be explained as a desire to run things free of old power structures 
or rules.  (Milton's rationalization for Lucifer:  "Better to serve", 
etc.)  Other times there may be objective reasons, such as process speed 
needed to meet a market window, or IP strictures.

     I agree that very tightly run, very official, intergovernmental 
standards bodies are essential.   The strong and reliable body of work put 
out by official entities such as ISO/IEC JTC1 and US ANSI ASC X12 is 
largely due to their formal protections against takeover and vertical or 
technology biases.   It is easy to advise clients to rely on that work as 
juried, neutral and best of breed.  Four key protections that help are (1) 
deliberate QC loops, (2) extraordinary supermajority approval, (3) 
minimization of economic barriers, and (4) a strict taxonomy of work 
domains that requires all similar work to be reconciled in a single experts 
community.  Not all of these elements are present in some of the other 
forums used today.

     Yet I find OASIS effective and useful as it is.  >90% voting rules 
sometimes assure that standards cannot quickly evolve.  W3C has a 
pay-to-play voting structure, and I have not heard it called a 
sell-out.   And as to quality and harmonizing the work, while OASIS still 
has some IP and takeover issues to resolve, it is beginning to discuss them 
and to create quality control and coordinating mechanisms.

     As an ebXML participant I am sometimes frustrated by OASIS rules, 
which permit it simultaneously to partner with ebXML and encourage 
competition against it.  But this is consistent with OASIS' stated 
procedures as a common meeting ground for vendors and others to 
self-organize work projects.  I suspect some projects where OASIS is making 
progress could not move forward under the strictures of ISO.  I have 
happily recommended to other struggling groups that they use OASIS as a 
source of infrastructure and support.

     To me the WS-I initiative seemed like a secession of a few major 
software vendors from all official efforts, to confect a forum they can 
better control and brand.  I was sorry to see this.  Let me be 
clear:   ebXML *WAS* web services, until a few vendors split and rebranded 
it to mean only the already-public SOAP, the apparently-ineffective UDDI 
and the probably-premature WSDL.   But UDDI and WS-Security are already 
being brought BACK to OASIS, where it is open, accessible and public.  This 
is an important opportunity.  If you will forgive the hyperbole, I think 
there is a battle for the soul of OASIS, which potentially wants to evolve 
into something more than a vendor forum.  I think we should be supporting 
and participating in it, not shooting from the sidelines.

Some service providers are having their own battles these days, and I wish 
you luck and good will as all these industry changes unfold.  Bob, you 
personally are one of the smartest, strongest, most important experts and 
leaders we have -- in a community that does not have many statesmen in it, 
and needs them -- and I covet your continued engagement in this work as we 
keep moving it forward.

Warm regards   Jamie

~ James Bryce Clark
~ American Bar Association Business Law Subcommittee on E-Commerce
~ www.abanet.org/buslaw/cyber/ecommerce/ecommerce.html
~ 1 310 293 6739  jbc@lawyer.com

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