The case of OOXML in Africa

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Presentation at WITFOR (World IT Forum) on open standards, and the unprecedented lobbying campaign around the proposed OOXML standard.

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The case of OOXML in Africa

  1. 1. A Standards Story World IT Forum Addis Ababa 22-24 August 2007 J. Philipp Schmidt University of the Western Cape United Nations University MERIT [email_address]
  2. 2. Standards describe a common way of doing things
  3. 3. Key issue related to standards is participation Good standards enable participation Open processes enable participation that leads to good standards
  4. 4. Good standards = Open Standards
  5. 5. A story of Bill ...
  6. 6. ... and of Bob
  7. 7. New standard for office documents OOXML
  8. 9. Bill and Bob disagree ... What is a good standard? How do we create one?
  9. 11. Natural monopolies
  10. 12. Natural monopolies = monopolies
  11. 15. Technology standards are even more important in the world of global information and communication technologies
  12. 16. The Web
  13. 21. Email
  14. 23. But standards are not always good
  15. 25. Document Formats
  16. 26. ODF Open Document Format ISO/IEC 26300 700 pages can be extended open
  17. 27. New standard for office documents OOXML
  18. 28. Proposed OOXML ECMA - ISO DIS29500 Fast-tracked (6 months) During first phase many countries signalled contradictions
  19. 29. There are some problems: - too long to review in short time - tied to legacy formats - questions about patents - duplicates W3C standards - calendaring bugs - culturally biased (Weekends)
  20. 30. The discussion is not just about one particular standard, but about much broader issues of how we create good standards
  21. 32. Careful deliberative processes National standard bodies represented at ISO Not all countries vote on every standard
  22. 33. But things are changing
  23. 34. More standards Global implications Deeply technical standards that require expert input Fast-tracked procedures Intense lobbying
  24. 35. Important to participate – the creation of standards and governance of standards cannot be ignored
  25. 36. 2 September 2007
  26. 37. Algeria Botswana Cote d'Ivoire DRC Egypt Ethiopia Ghana Kenya Libya Mauritius Morocco Nigeria South Africa Sudan Tunisia Zimbabwe
  27. 38. A story of Bob ...
  28. 39. ... but this is also a story of Dorcas, Gbenga, Judy, Alice, Solomon, AhA, Sunday, Omo, Igor, Benjamin, Dorothy, Dawit, Abebe, Nnenna, Ben, Dhouha, David, and many others ...
  29. 40. ... forming a network of (civil society) organisations that can support and engage with their national standards bodies

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