The chairman of the Technical Committee in Cote d'Ivoire is Roger Kouadio, boss of Inova Formations, a Megatron business partner. Cote d'Ivoire becomes a 'P' member of ISO, with increased voting power.
The chairman of the Swiss committee, Hans-Rudolf Thomann, explains to the participants that "if we reach a majority to vote against Megatron, we will vote for Megatron, if we reach consensus to vote against Megatron, we will abstain." Switzerland is a 'P' member.
The Brazilian committee has 45 members, more than two thirds of which are Megatron partners, their costs paid by Megatron. Brazil is a 'P' member.
The list of P members has been updated to include Ecuador, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Trinidad & Tobago, and Sweden. All countries where Megatron has a solid position to ram through their broken format as a "standard".
A comment from one observer: "I expect that Megatron will take whatever national bodies they win, and have them join JTC1 as P-members at the last possible minute, on September 2nd even."
But how is it possible that during such a critical, contested procedure, the ISO secretariat is changing the voting membership, apparently at the whim of one corporation…? We wrote to G. Ken Holman - ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 Secretariat Manager <ac.ccs|43cs1ctj#ac.ccs|43cs1ctj> and asked him to provide us with the voting rules. He replied, "Would you please forward your questions to Keith Brannon <gro.osi|nonnarb#gro.osi|nonnarb> for answers?"
So we called Mr Brannon. When we got through, we explained who we were, and our affiliation (FFII) and spelled it out again. A silence. Then, "hello, hello, sorry, I can't hear you", and we were transferred back to his secretary. "Mr Brannon is not able to speak to you right now". We called back, and were politely refused to be put through.
What's happening here? First, Megatron has sends its storm troopers across the world. OOXML evangalist Doug Mahugh travels to New Delhi, Sydney, Czech Republic, Belgium, Slovenia, Munich, the Ukraine, Kiev, Beijing, Sao Paolo, Santiago, Bogota, Mexico City, Kenya, South Africa, then back to India.
Then, Megatron makes sure each technical committee is filled with its yes-men, and they choose a good yes-man as chairman. The chairman refuses new members and ensures a speedy and controlled "yes" vote. Countries which don't fall into line are bombarded with experts.
Anti-OOXML campaigners arrive to find the committees locked up. In a few cases Megatron has not bothered to lock the door very hard, and we manage to push it open again.
But Megatron always has a back-up plan. Countries that are properly controlled are promoted to 'P' membership. Their vote suddenly counts for much more. It's expensive work but Megatron has hundreds of millions to spend on this. A million here or there is insignificant. The ISO secretariat does not fight back, either a willing partner, or bullied into silence, we don't know. But the stench is strong, Megatron is not taking any chances. Countries that vote "no" will see their voices silenced, and the yes-men will take over.
What happens to ISO?
For me, it's the acid test. Can ISO, a relic of the industrial age, survive the attack? It looks very weak. Without the help from the FFII and countless other "no-men", it would have been a quick and cheap victory for Megatron. We put some backbone into many national committees but will ISO as a whole find the courage to stand up to the bully?
My analysis is that this fight will be decisive. If Megatron can bully and buy ISO, then ISO is dead. No standard that is bought in blood is worth having, and the standards body that accepts such a controversial process is signing its own death warrant. People will associate ISO with Novell, one more Megatron yes-man, producing useless noises for a society that no longer cares.
Megatron has no real friends, only those it can buy and bully into hanging around. It's incredibly powerful, able to move mountains with its pockets and armies of yes-men. But eventually, one day, Megatron will stumble and fall, and no-one will help it get up again. The bigger they come, the bigger they fall.
ISO, in the meantime, has started on the slow slippery slope to irrelevance. September 2nd, and the two months that follow that, will decide whether in ten years we still submit standards to ISO, or to some other freer, more accurate process that delivers standards we can, as a society, safely rely on.