Associated Press/ZDNet Blunder

Lisa Rein lisarein at
Tue Sep 7 00:08:37 BST 1999

Hello everyone:

I decided to try to get to the bottom of this quickly, before anyone
wasted any more energy on it.  I'm cross-posting it to the dev list FYI
only (and, in all honesty, because i am a little curious if there are
any exceptions with regard to any of the technical assumptions that I
make below in number 6.)

I still wonder why the associated press even bothered with it?  It must
have been a SLOW day...for them AND ZDNET.  And, unfortunately, for a
couple Seattle papers and at one or two in northern California (the only
others i have heard about or seen first hand) over the last few days.

Ultimately, the Associated Press is who i blame for this product of
bumbling yellow journalism -- whoever wrote this "staff" release
couldn't have even gone to even one of the web site's of any of the
organizations involved for a second, and instead chose to take a chance
at misrepresenting a situation that basically amounts to a non-issue in
every way except politically -- Representing a slanted press release as
if the information it provided was some kind of setback to XML standards
is absolutely appalling.

If anyone knows jesse's email, please forward it to him.  ZDNet doesn't
provide email links to any of the editors or writers on the site, and
really, under the circumstances, i figured they probably aren't too
concerned with making corrections anyway :-)

So first, here's the link to AP's embarrasing prose

I will now provide a brief list of facts that should wrap this all up in
a jiffy. (okay maybe it's not so brief, but it's at least it will be
researched and referenced accordingly -- hey!  what a concept -- maybe
i'll run it by AP :-) -- lisa

1. After researching this so-called "story" released by ZDNET, AP, and
various local newspapers that obviously picked it up the AP wire,
paraphrased it, without checking out any of the facts, and without
contacting anyone to verify the story.  I was able to find out
everything in this email in a little more than twenty minutes.

(I merely read every single document on the CompTIA website) -- then
glanced over at RosettaNet, which was a no-brainer, because there is
nothing specific on the either site about any "rejection" (only a press
release from a month ago on the comptia site explaining that they have
submitted "comments" to RosettaNet.)

2.  CompTIA has only "submitted its comments" on RosettaNet's PIPs -- it
hasn't "rejected" anything -- and this has NOTHING to do with the XML
standard itself, nor will it affect any of the XML standards work in
progress at the W3C, nor is there any vital XML standard in the works
that is now going to held up, due to the submission of these comments.  
here's a quote right from CompTIA:

> "Over the last five years we've gained significant expertise in developing and implementing process, technology and data standards
> within the IT supply chain," said Reiner Schaaf, director of electronic commerce for Computer 2000 and chair of the CompTIA Europe
> EC standards board. "As an organization, we need to support RosettaNet in its global initiative through our extensive and detailed
> feedback on their specifications." 

3. Additionally, there doesn't appear to be any sort of specification
that was expected to be released next February of next year or anything
that will now be held up.  The statement amounts to little more than
unsubstantiated heresay, at best.   (Sheesh, at this rate, maybe AP is
so confused it is referring to the core XML 1.0 W3C Recommendation
standard that already came out TWO februaries ago :-)


Background on the organization that has "rejected the XML standard":
CompTIA - The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
is a not-for-profit organization that makes money selling certification
training.  Apparently, due to their "other" declared goals of improving
ethics in the computer industry and being a largely POLITICAL force, in
theory, for the whole IT industry they are able to remain

<opionion>Bottom line:  This group lobbies congress to either get
legislation passed or stop legislation it doesn't like from being
passed, in the name of non-government interference and free enterprise,
and stuff like that :-)  Whether a particular proposed legislation is
"good" or "bad" seems to hinge on whether its passing will cost money or
generate money for the IT departments of the (mostly) very large
corporations in the software/computer industry which make up its

Just FYI: Here's their latest "battle" for instance -- trying to work it
so IT companies can receive tax credits for the cost of training their
employees they would have to train anyway.  Nice angle, essentially free
money for the IT companies -- even though IT training is something that
all companies will have to be paying for... 

5. <opinion>This week's media coverage was the result of the calculated
measures of CompTIA, who apparently views XML's early and widespread
implementation as a bit of a threat. CompTIA makes its money certifying
IT people in many currently-implemented, largely proprietary, networking
technologies (corba, COM, probably SAP, PeopleSoft).  Not only are most
of these technologies now integrating XML into their current framework
-- any kind of generalized certification program is immediately going to
leave its pupils instantly behind the times if they don't ALSO have some
XML experience.  

In fact, it is already arguable that such experience could be deemed
MORE important than the previously aforementioned technologies
(especially at the rather limited and introductory skill level that a
graduate from one of these programs, who otherwise had NO real world
experience would have to offer.

This company (ooops, not for profit organization) has spent a lot of
time and money on its "certification" materials, and now, if they don't
integrate XML training into their certification program in general, and
quickly, because soon many of these complicated protocols will no longer
be necessary now that XML is making it easy to exchange data.  Ouch for
them!  No more complicated protocols for corporations to have to spend
thousands of dollars on training courses for -- CompTIA makes its bread
and butter on these complications.  So the longer it can convince its
members that they don't really "need" XML, the better for

6. To CompTIA's defense, I suppose they could be just really, really,
confused.  As evidenced by this exerpt from their press release about
their comments on the RosettaNet PIPs:

> The ECSB, which reviewed all of the 42 RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) and the implementation framework, focused
> its comments on regulatory, legal, revenue, privacy and tax guidelines faced by companies conducting business in multiple
> countries. Specific comments concerned the inability to use an ANSI framework among large and small partners outside of the US,
> standard identification protocols such as the DUNS number that are not prevalent in Europe, Asia and Latin America and the
> requirement for UCC/EAN GTIN numbers that are not sufficient to uniquely identify trade globally.

Any XML E-commerce standard will undoubtedly be incorporating all of
these identification mechanisms into its larger framework.  At least,
these were non-issues over a year ago when RosettaNet began (the article
is also incorrect when it says the organization was just launched in
June -- we all know that!) 

> The standards-setting group, called RosettaNet,
>                      was launched with much ballyhoo in June to
>                      harness the XML software language to speed the
>                      transmission of data across electronic networks
>                      linking computer and software makers, parts
>                      suppliers and distributors.

I'm not even going to bother pointing out the other inaccuracies...

7. This part is just plain silly:
> The review also addressed problems communicating name and address purchase information across country boundaries,
> requirements of identification of country of origin and destination within the information technology fulfillment chain.

These "technical" issues were some of the first to be solved. Only the
politics of such transactions still need to be determined. The legal
ramifications of such transactions are still very much up in the air.
But "communicating" country and identification information across
international boundaries?  I think almost ANY XML-based specification
would have that covered :-)  

8. In conclusion:  what a sad, sad day for american journalism indeed -- 

9. The moral:  think twice before you take an AP story at face value --
this little episode should prove once and for all that they are NOT
checking for accuracy, verifying sources, or doing anything else that
ANY respectable news bureau, much less one of the two or three bureaus
who, if anything, should be taking EXTRA precautions due to their
position of privilege in the eyes of the public at large (rather than
setting new records of inaccurate, sloppy reporting).

The technical ramifications:  NULL SET

Okay in all fairness, this took me about an hour to finish writing it
up, not just the twenty minutes to research -- but if I were to print a
story on I'd have to get original quotes and additional factual
verifications from every organization involved -- and i'm not sure i
wish to commit any more time to clearing up someone else's
misinformation.  I'm still not convinced that I'm not just playing right
into their political press machine by writing about it at all, much less
giving them additional coverage online :-)

Hope this has been helpful in clearing up this press mess.  
Needless to say, if anyone feels that anything contained in this email
is inaccurate, speak up and set me straight -- as long as you can
reference the source of your "corrected" information -- so we don't just
end up in heresay circles again, ok?

take care,

lisa rein

Orin Rehorst wrote:
> Please comment on the following (source;
> <>
> The Computing Technology Industry Association rejected a proposed standard
> for XML software that would speed the easy exchange of data between
> networks. The group said the proposal skewed toward American firms and would
> prevent European companies from taking part. The move is likely to delay
> release of an XML standard, which previously had been expected next
> February. Jesse's take: Given the importance of XML to the Net's future,
> this is a disappointing and foolish setback; and smacks of anti-American
> sentiment.
> Regards,
> Orin Rehorst
> Port of Houston Authority
> ==========================================
> XML/EDI Group members-only discussion list
> Homepage =
> Brought to you by: Online Technologies Corporation
>                   Home of BizServe -
> TO UNSUBSCRIBE: Send email to <xmledi-list-request at>
>                Leave the subject blank, and
>                In the body of the message, enter ONLY: unsubscribe
> Questions/requests should be sent to: owner-xmledi-list at
> To join the XML/EDI Group complete the form located at:

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list