Re: FAQ # 25

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Wed Dec 17 2003 - 10:43:31 CST

On Dec 17, 2003, at 10:24 AM, David Mertz wrote:

>> It's worth noting that Sequoya has released their XML-based standard
>> for the encoding of vote records from their DRE machine.
>> Whatever the case may be, as open standards like this come to market,
>> we need, in the long run, to justify our departure from them.
>
> I'm not sure I understand why an XML DTD that happens to be published
> by proprietary vendor Sequoia is an "open standard". I mean, it's
> nice if they reveal this or any other aspects of their system; but why
> isn't what they do just another proprietary technique?

Note that many standards originate as proprietary standards that are
then
opened up to public inspection and end up being widely used.

The fact that Sequoya has published their internal standard allows
third parties to build software that will read and process their
electronic records of vote totals. It also means that they feel that
their data format is good enough that it won't be seen as a foolish
format and subject to ridicule.

> That said, if there really is a -standard- out there, it seems worth
> contemplating seriously. The only question I would have would be
> about using something that is absurdly, and unnecessarily,
> complicated. Often design-by-committee produces such things.

This is the reason that industrial standards frequently emerge from
vendors instead of from committees. There are lots of such standards
out there. Of course, there are lots of committee products as well,
things like JPG and MP3 were done by committee. GIF, on the other hand,
came out of a vendor (not the vendor that claims patent rights to GIF
either). (for those who say GIF is obsolete and JPG is better, note
that they solve different problems! GIF is still an excellent choice
for illustrations done with a limited color pallette, while JPG works
better for photos.)

                                Doug Jones
                                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:14 2003

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