Like many of the delegates who attended the BRM, I’ve found my return travel plans this weekend stymied by flight cancellations and delays. I showed up at the Geneva airport at 7:00AM Sunday morning, and when I saw the red flashing “Annule” next to my KLM flight to Amsterdam on the list of flights, I thought things might be off to a bad start. After a quick tour of all the checkin counters to verify that there was no Annule Airlines (hey, my French ain’t what it could be), I verified at the KLM counter that my flight to Amsterdam had been cancelled. They re-scheduled me on SAS through Copenhagen, then I waited two hours for the SAS ticket counter to open, checked my bags, and watched my SAS flight get delayed repeatedly until it took off 4 hours late at 3:30PM.
At the gate for my flight to Copenhagen, I ran into Jesper Lund Stocholm. We had a few final laughs about the goings-on inside the BRM. There were many moments of laughter at the BRM, in addition to all the other things you’ve heard — Alex has a nicely dry sense of humor that he interjected at key moments, and some of the delegates inserted great one-liners too.
On the flight from Geneva to Copenhagen, I wrote up a few thoughts on the BRM, for all my friends and colleagues who have been asking how it went. I won’t talk about the details of what was decided, because there are rules against that (and I didn’t make the rules, so don’t waste your time complaining to me if you don’t like them), but I’d like to mention some of the things that I’ll remember from my week at the long-awaited DIS29500 BRM.
BRM Blogging. As a general observation, I found the BRM itself much more civil and productive than the blogging discussions about Open XML that preceded it. I would also say that if you want to know what happened inside the BRM, you might want to look for common themes among those who were there. Here are a few eyewitness accounts:
- Rick Jelliffe: The Hell of Geneva
- Jesper Lund Stocholm: BRM Aftermath
- Tim Bray: BRM Narrative
- Yoon Kit: Geneva, Day Five
- Brian Jones: BRM is done… time to sleep 🙂
- Frank Farance’s Computerworld interview (with a comment from me)
The hardest jobs at the BRM. There were many hard-working people at the BRM, and the delegates could be found meeting together to prepare draft resolutions of suggested changes early in the morning, on coffee breaks (“tea breaks” as Alex Brown so Britishly called them), during lunch at the cafeteria and nearby restaurants, and late into the evening in hotels all over town. But in my opinion the toughest jobs inside the BRM were those at the front desk, especially the roles performed by Alex (the convenor), Gabriel Barta (the ITTF rules expert, essentially the referee of the event in layman’s terms), Rex Jaeschke (the project editor), and Rex’s assistant Tristan Davis. Those guys all have my respect and admiration for how they conducted themselves.
Progress made. On this topic, I don’t have much to say because the specific details of what was decided in the BRM aren’t public until ISO/IEC says they are. But I felt good progress was made on many technical issues, including contributions from a wide variety of countries and people. It was great to watch firsthand as people who have squared off against one another in the blogosphere worked to reach consensus, and many of the resolutions (i.e., specific project editor instructions for changes to the spec) were passed with no objections from anyone present, indicating a high degree of consensus on the changes. As for the much-discussed fact that most of the undiscussed proposed dispositions were approved by a vote, that’s great news for everyone involved. As a result of that vote, the much-scrutinized spec just got a lot better.
Complaining about the rules. One thing that has really surprised me is all the talk about P-Members versus O-Members on blogs over the weekend. Both were invited to particiate. Both showed up. Both were at the pre-meeting where the rules were discussed. Both participated in the technical debates in the BRM. Both contributed text for proposed changes and draft resolutions. Both voted, on every single resolution we voted on all week long. At none of those times did anybody suggest that O-Members shouldn’t have a voice. But shortly after the voting results were announced on the undiscussed dispositions, a small group of people started complaining that O-Members shouldn’t be allowed to affect the outcome of the BRM. That seemed strange to me, since the O-Members had already been responsible for many of the changes agreed upon previously in the BRM.
Stranded in Copenhagen. The 4-hour delay on my first flight meant I missed my connection to Seattle, and now I’m stuck in Copenhagen overnight. I’ll arrive at Sea-Tac late Monday afternoon, 42 hours after I arrived at the Geneva airport headed for home.
And now, time to go find something Danish for dinner …