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IBM votes 'No' on rogue standards bodies

Big Blue wants to end rogue standards bodies, or at least its participation in them. But saying no may be easier said than done.

IBM knows the standards game better than any other company I know, which makes its recent announcement to stop supporting rogue standards bodies welcome and important. This might well be a response to the shenanigans Microsoft allegedly played with OOXML, but whatever its origin, the result is encouraging:

(Selected) tenets of IBM's new policy are to:

  • Begin or end participation in standards bodies based on the quality and openness of their processes, membership rules, and intellectual property policies.
  • Advance governance rules within standards bodies that ensure technology decisions, votes, and dispute resolutions are made fairly by independent participants, protected from undue influence.
  • Collaborate with standards bodies and developer communities to ensure that open software interoperability standards are freely available and implementable.

For the full list, see IBM's press release. Needless to say, if all companies adopted these IBM guidelines, we'd have truly open, interoperability-enhancing standards...which means we probably won't see the industry flocking to the guidelines anytime soon and, indeed, I suspect that even IBM may have difficulty living up to its pledge in all scenarios. The next time a rogue "OOXML-esque" standard rears its head and gathers momentum, IBM could come to believe that the end (crushing a bad standard) may justify the means.

Regardless, it's good to see IBM's moral leadership on this issue.