How to cite this paper

Bosak, Jon, Mavis Cournane, Patrick Durusau, James David Mason, David Orchard and Lauren Wood. “Dirty laundry: Committee disasters, what happened, what we learned (Panel Discussion).” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008, Montréal, Canada, August 12 - 15, 2008. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 1 (2008).

Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008
August 12 - 15, 2008

Balisage Paper: Dirty laundry: Committee disasters, what happened, what we learned

(Panel Discussion)

Jon Bosak

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer Jon Bosak organized and led the working group that created XML, subsequently serving for two years as chair of the XML Coordination Group of the World Wide Web Consortium. He is a long-time member of OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, and he chaired the committee that developed the OASIS process for the definition of industry-specific XML markup standards. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Electronic Business XML initiative (ebXML), a joint project of OASIS and the United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT); on the Solution Provider Board of RosettaNet, the leading XML-based supply-chain organization for the electronics industry; and on the Board of Governors of the Electronics Industry Data Exchange Association (EIDX), a member section of CompTIA. He currently chairs the OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee. Articles by Jon Bosak can be found on his web page:

Mavis Cournane


Mavis Cournane has over 10 years of experience managing global projects in the automotive, government and healthcare sectors. Mavis has a strong commitment to standardization and has taken an active role in the development of the OASIS Universal Business Language, an e-commerce standard. She currently co-edits the UBL schema and Naming and Design Rules.

Patrick Durusau

Patrick Durusau has been trained as a lawyer, network administration, and biblical scholar, all of which probably contributed to his current involvement in standards work. (Whether that is reward or punishment is not certain.) Patrick is the Editor of OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.2 at OASIS, chairs the ODF Metadata subcommittee of the ODF TC at OASIS, is chair of INCITS V1, convener of the Topic Maps Working Group in ISO and is a co-editor of several parts of the topic maps standard. Patrick also teaches a course on topic maps at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Patrick, Carol (his wife), and Clarence, their Boston Terrier, are embarking on a chicken farming venture (very small, 12 chickens) with Barred Hollands. Their coloration was a major factor in choosing that particular breed.

James David Mason

Y-12 National Security Complex

James D. Mason, originally trained as a mediaevalist and linguist, has been a writer, systems developer, and manufacturing engineer at U.S. Department of Energy facilities in Oak Ridge since the late 1970s. In 1981, he joined the ISO's work on standards for document management and interchange. He has chaired ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34, which is responsible for SGML, DSSSL, topic maps, and related standards, from 1985 until 2007. Dr. Mason has been a frequent writer and speaker on standards and their applications. For his work on SGML, Dr. Mason has received the Gutenberg Award from Printing Industries of America and the Tekkie Award from GCA. Dr. Mason was Chairman of the Knowledge Technologies 2002 conference sponsored by IDEAlliance. He is currently working on XML-based information systems to support the publishing, product engineering, and classification communities at DOE's Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

David Orchard

David Orchard is senior technical director in BEA Systems' CTO Office, focusing on web and web services standards. He has been elected to a 3rd term on the W3C Technical Architecture Group and is active in numerous standards activities. He is currently or has been a co-editor of various specifications such as SOAP 1.2, WSDL 2.0, WS-Policy, WS-Addressing, WS-ReliableMessaging, WS-Eventing, WS-MetadataExchange, XML Schema, Web Services Architecture, XML Link, XInclude, and SOAP-Conversation.

Lauren Wood


Lauren Wood is a senior program manager for Sun Microsystems. She's been active in XML and SGML since 1992, when she worked for an SGML consultancy in Germany after completing her doctorate in physics at the University of Melbourne. Since then she has chaired the IDEAlliance US XML conference series for 5 years, been active in standards consortia including W3C (elected member of the Advisory Board, member of various committees, Chair of the DOM Working Group from its inception through Level 2), OASIS (member of several committees and chair of the Entity Resolution Technical Committee), the Liberty Alliance (Chair of the Business Marketing Expert Group), and IETF, and worked on XML authoring and content management while Director of Product Technology for SoftQuad Software. Her current job has more to do with identity and privacy but still uses XML under the covers.


Markup standards and projects are created, managed, and sometimes destroyed through group process. While this process is often a bit bumpy, there are some occasions when it goes spectacularly badly. Tales of these committee disasters can be not only entertaining, but also (and more importantly) informative. Panelists will spend a maximum of 10 minutes each, describing a committee/working group disaster of some sort, including: what went wrong, how it could have been prevented, how it could have been (or how it was) resolved. Participants may anonymize their tales of woe, provided they assure us that the events they describe actually occurred and that that they were actually involved.