Good bye, British Library

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Rich Vazquez

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May 30, 2008, 9:10:05 AM5/30/08
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via No OOXML on 5/24/08

TC45_createsEcmaXML.jpg

This is an image from the good old days. Microsoft's Jean Paoli hands over the OOXML specification to Jan van den Beld, the general secretary of ECMA. And you find Adam Farquhar from the British Library, the bearded person on the right. The British Library was instrumental to legitimizing the whole ECMA and ISO OOXML standardisation process as an 'independent' participant in the committee work. ECMA did a brilliant job to mature the specification text to get it ISO fast-tracked. Or as the ISO BRM convenor and recent consultant for the British Library Alex Brown reflects1:

Ecma made the road very rocky though, by initially producing a text that was so lousy with faults.

As early as 2005 Adam Farquhar from the British Library spoke about the OOXML process :

Early in November, Microsoft announced a project to digitize 100,000 rare and out-of-print books from the British Library collection. …Farquhar says that that effort is not directly related to the Open XML announcement

Therefore it is also not directly related to the Open XML ISO approval that now Microsoft abandons the book scanning project .

Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes.
This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.

Footnotes
1. Brown also slags on Jan van den Beld, s34 gossip: "I remember how… Jan gave a presentation about Ecma and spent some time explaining how the name “Ecma” was not an acronym but a brand name, and how its capitalisation was important. SC 34 old-timers shifted uncomfortably in their seats – wasn’t this just the sort of corporate bullshit one came to standards meetings to avoid?".

 
 

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