Several people thought I underplayed the importance of standards. Such as Tom Field, whose note included this passage:
Your article states, “there’s no obvious victim.” Perhaps that’s true with respect to corporate victims. However, we, the citizenry, are potential victims. If we become locked into one vendor to provide us with our tools, our ability to access public records becomes limited. (Hmmm… sounds like the kind of consolidation that is happening in the newspaper industry…)
My point is that standards are important. You failed to inform your readers on this fact.
The second — yes, somewhat esoteric — issue we need to be discussing is whether the standards process is fair or unfair, effective or broken. Is the standard that Microsoft proposing truly open? Will it allow the same kind of open access that the already existing standard allows? I, frankly, don’t know the answers to these questions. But, given Microsoft’s track record, my initial response is to trust a growing body of non-Microsofties who say that Microsoft is attempting (whether legally or not, I don’t know) to consolidate power in ways that would hurt us as citizens.
I thought I was emphasizing the importance of standards by devoting the column to the subject, but perhaps I should have included more context about how people will be affected by the outcome of the voting.
Predictions are tricky, though, unless you approach the issue with strong feelings for or against Microsoft (another reason the Swedish flap was unfortunate …).