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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

Illegitimi Non Carborundum
I'm afraid they are, though.  Perhaps it's just my exhaustion, what between meaningful use posts, and HL7 balloting, and basically doing all the rest of the stuff I do in standards as a professional "volunteer".
Closed Standards
Vested Interests
Members only Club
These are the politically loaded phrases people are throwing around in recent discussions on the #ABBI project.  Most of the time I can just ignore them, even though I find them alienating, but tonight for some reason, I just cracked.  I bust my ass doing this work, because I love what I do, and because I really do believe I'm doing the right thing.  It's always been about me, my family, my tribe, and my community, first, before I ever get to considerations of my employment, or the organization that I'm doing stuff for. And that's because if it isn't right for them, it isn't right.  Period.  I get tired and cranky, and right now, I'm probably right at the peak of cranky.

Let's start with closed standards.  Define please, what you mean by open standards.  You might have even mentioned some organizations like W3C, or IETF.  Well, here's what W3C, IETF, IEEE, the Internet Society and others think it means:

Note that free is NOT part of the definition.  This stuff has to be paid for.  Someone has to build the web site, answer the phones and t-con lines, schedule meetings, and all the rest of that stuff.  That costs real money.  Many SDOs charge for standards.  Some charge for membership.  Others charge for testing services.  There has to be a business model.  It's just like HIE.  You cannot just build it for free and expect someone to fund it.

Reasonable is part of the definition, and some would argue that HL7's prices aren't reasonable, or aren't affordable for the little guy, or ... well, they can go on for quite some time about this.  Fair enough.  Have you looked at the costs to join W3C?  More on that below.

If all you ever do is complain from the outside, YOU will never change the organization.  Change comes from within.  I've been working on change from within in every single one of the organizations that I've been working with from almost the very beginning (including every employer I'v ever worked for).  None of them are perfect.  All of them make mistakes.

If you want to stand on your soap-box and preach, fine, your audience is in the church, you might consider moving your soap-box inside it.  Meanwhile, mine's already been there long enough to get on the board, and whispering into the ears of the people in charge.  Which of us do you think will be more effective?

Vested interests?  That's laughable.  A vested interest is "a personal stake or involvement", especially with respect to financial gain.  Few of us are in a position to give away our time and effort, and so ALL of us have vested interests.  Go ahead.  Declare my vested interests.  But declare yours first.

Here are mine:  I have vested interests in being able to use CCDA, and IHE XCA standards which I've already invested a great deal of time and effort in. And neither of those are going away anytime soon.  One of my interests in the ABBI project is to be able to use the same work I ALREADY HAVE TO DO, for Meaningful Use, and reuse it again to support what I think patients want (and remember, I am one).  In this, it would be awful nice to kill two birds with one stone.

At the same time, I ALSO want these content standards to be easier to use.  I've worked on two separate projects Documents for Mobile Health in IHE (MHD), and FHIR in HL7, to simplify things.  I think MHD is ready for use in the pull situation.  HL7 is still working on FHIR, and so am I.  I don't want to deal with yet another content standard that nobody can describe in real terms of anything other than what it isn't (HL7 CDA).

If you want to change something, it is much better to offer a suggestion of what to change it to, rather than to just say "I don't like that one".  And, BTW a list of requirements for a new standard IS NOT a standard.  It won't meet the project deadlines.  If you want to work on the next generation XML or JSON content standards, I suggest you go work on the FHIR project with Grahame, Lloyd and others (including me).  Because that's where it's happening.  There will even be some testing going on in a couple of weeks (and I'll be tweeting out from that event).

Members only club.  Well, I have to agree, every organization I've ever known is about its members, and I really don't think there's a reason any of them should ever apologize for it.  This particular attack was basically against the principle that you should pay for a product.  Frankly, I want all standards to be free, but I also want free gas, food and a house too.  It is never free.

People cite W3C and OASIS as ideal models of free standards.  But they aren't golden models for me.  I cannot afford to be a member of either W3C or OASIS. I cannot vote on their standards, nor can I participate in governance.  It would cost my employer more than three times what it spends on HL7 to become of member of W3C.  If I personally were to join, it would be thrice what a consultant would paid to HL7.  This is how they can manage to make their standards free, by charging big fees to to members.  So, I cannot vote on those standards, nominate something to become a standard, or participate much in the development process, vote for committee chairs, or board members.  All I get to do is use their standards for free.  How's that for members-only?

Do me a favor, show some respect and save politically loaded vocabulary for some other meeting.  We've got a ton work to do, and my daughters are counting on us, to make their data available.


Thanks. If you've gotten this far, thanks for listening. That's off my chest now.  I can at least go back to address the issue of being tired.  Cranky?   We'll see what surprises tomorrow holds for me.