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Subject: [ebxml-dev] Re: [CEFACT-EWG:24] RE: [ubl-comment] Fwd: Re: UBL andCEFACT

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. ***

    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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