Re: Unicode, Cure-all or Kill-all?

From: Marion Gunn (
Date: Thu Aug 15 1996 - 13:08:28 EDT

     At 9:52 AM 8/10/96, Timothy Huang wrote:
>>When the Unicoder Savior will let the Chinese people have 'enough'
>>characters to use?
     At 18:04 14.8.96, Glenn Adams responded:

>What is this "let" stuff? Unicode doesn't "let this" and "not let that".
>Unicode members take votes, ISO WGs, SCs and NBs take votes, etc.
>... Come on, get real. If you are impatient
>or dissatisfied with the pace of progress in extending the CJK Ideograph
>repertoire in Unicode/10646, why don't you participate in the WG2/IRG?
     Timothy Huang asked:

>>and when the system software companies will implement that?
     Glenn Adams responded:

>Perhaps when enough people make it worthwhile. Software companies are
>not academic research institutes nor philanthropic societies.
     Dear Mr Adams,
     I freely agree you know more about Chinese characters than I do, but I
     am forced to agree with much of Mr Huang's msg (as quoted by me below).

     As a director of a vanguard sw company still too small to afford the big
     asking price of membership of Unicode Consortium (that consortium which
     has, over the years--ask Rick McGowan!--benefited from the UNPAID expert
     advice of my partner and myself), I fervently wish your consortium and
     your country would give over using their superior purchasing power to
     dominate IT Standards which older and richer cultures have to use.

     Too many Standards decisions are (mis)taken, due to--and I quote yourself
     above on this--the fact that "Software companies...are not academic
     institutes nor philanthropic societies"--or, to flesh out that
statement, if
     I may (do correct me if I am wrong about this): "[some overly-influential]
     Software companies...are not academic research institutes [i.e., they
     do not know] nor philanthropic societies [i.e., they do not care]".

     Please take seriously the practical points put by your colleague from
     to the Unicode list (am CC:ing list iso10646 <iso10646@JHUVM.HCF.JHU.EDU>
     as this topic is germane to both):

    At 3:31 12.8.96, Mr Huang wrote:
>Going to the various standardization meetings is a very expensive way of
>conducting business. I participated in several such meetings, such as
>AFII world font meetings. As you said, the meetings were great, make a
>lot of friends, etc. However, I also see some very undesirable things.
>First, due to the huge amount of money involved, only rich guys can
>participate the meetings. Rich guys may not be the right guys for such a
>standard. Second, some countries send their delegates to the meetings as
>a reward, not because that person knows the subject matter. This took
>place many times,

     Like Mr Huang, I thoroughly enjoy such gatherings, but I share his concern
     about the financial downside to this issue. Since first I began to take an
     interest in Standards, I have felt disgust, again & again, at the sight of
     so much money being diverted away from salaries, capital and innovative,
     productive investment in the IT industry, and syphoned straight off
     into the tourism industry (by way of airfares & hotel tariffs)!

     Greater Internet work would (a) reduce the unfair advantage big firms
     now have (who can easily absorb/write off/pass onto customers and
     shareholders a wide variety of staff junketing costs), and (b) reduce
     scope for misuse by some government officials of tax money (who use such
     trips to reward their staff). Too often, it is not having the interest
     or expertise relevant to a field which may determine its Standards,
     but having the money to go support one's "own side" at meetings.

     These twin (commercial & state) abuses lead to the perpetration (and
     perpetuation) of bad decisions on both Trade & International Standards.
     See how hard it seems to be to fix, for example, an error in one standard,
     presumably made when Romanians or Latvians could not afford to travel
     to meetings, of confusing C WITH CEDILLA and C WITH COMMA BELOW,
     an error subsequently carried across to infect other standards.

     Here is where Mr Huang's practical proposition comes in, when he says:

>Thus, I think, a better way must be found. Standardization shouldn't be
>a rich guys' game, and should have only the qualified persons to
>participate. Perhaps, internet is a good choice. And this can be done in
>several stages. For example, the first stage can be just an open meeting
>for a period of time (1 month, 2 months?), anybody can voice his/her
>opinion(s). In this stage, plenty of discussions can take place.
>Debates/challenges/proposal/counter-proposal, etc., should be
>encouraged. Then, in the second stage, the voting members from each
>country will then vote, based on what they read from the stage one. Of
>course, this is just a thought for everybody to think about.
>Timothy Huang

     Mr Huang's cost-cutting proposals (above) would help things, by:
     (a) USING the Net's capacity as an instrument of democracy (an equalizer);
     (b) SPEEDING the current sluggish rate of sending out DIS, etc., for
     (c) REDUCING the cost of the travel element in the decision-making

     Who will consider his proposals with due seriousness? Who will ignore
     them, & why--just because they are bored with their own workplaces, &
     hooked on their ignoble pursuit of a "Standards Roadshow" lifestyle?:-(
     Marion Gunn

ps. Patching in here, for the benefit of iso10646 people who would not have
     seen earlier msgs. on this topic, another directed at making economies.

    On Tue, 13 Aug 1996 02:18:25 -0700 Edward Cherlin said:
>I am entirely in favor of bringing technology to bear on standards
>processes. I have participated in several ISO and ANSI standards meetings,
>and I always felt that the costs were limiting participation even by rich
>American companies, and much more the rest of the world. After my funding
>got cut, I had to watch from afar. There may be some situations which
>should be handled face to face, but this is not at all the general case,
>especially given the relatively low cost of videoconferencing today. I
>would like to see a formalized process developed for wide-ranging
>participation on standards, using authentication technology to verify the
>identities of voters, but otherwise allowing rather free participation in
>terms of submitting and commenting on proposals. Perhaps someone should
>propose a standard for electronic standards organizations. :-) :-) :-)
>Edward Cherlin <>


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