FHISO Open Discussion

2012-07-30 Folks are speaking out on Why FHISO?

From a collection of the questions/comments and input, via e-mail and around the web, some questions and brief remarks follow.

Note: The organizers have invested much time these various topics. There is probably nothing we would like better than to dialog and receive input at length about each.

1. Identify the FHISO board and organizing volunteers

FHISO was incorporated earlier this year as an Arizona non-profit. The standing organizational board consists of three directors. These directors are Robert Burkhead (USA); Geir Thorud (Norway); Andrew Hatchett (USA). Robert and Geir have standards backgrounds (Robert, HL7; Geir, ISO). While there are many supporters in the community at large, a group of six other volunteers are actively engaged in the day to day organizing work. These six are: Greg Lamberson (Egypt); Tony Proctor (Ireland and UK); Neil Parker (Canada); Roger Moffat (USA); Brett McPhee (Australia); GeneJ (USA). All the board members and other volunteers are genealogists.

Together with other supporters, the organizers are communicating about FHISO, often one on one, with leaders around the globe--generally vendors, service providers, genealogical organizations, technologists and standards professionals from within the community.

We hope all genealogists will join in the effort to engage these leaders. We need you. Please let us know how we can help. fhiso@fhiso.org

Once there is broad-based backing for governance from the community, and leadership is in agreement about board members and governance specifics, then an organizational meeting will be held and a first board will be installed. Once the first board is in place, many/most of the current organizers will become ordinary members of FHISO. From that point forward, leadership will be elected by the membership in a democratic process.

2. I hope you are serious about extending the standards concept to include cultures around the world.

We are. Indeed, it is an important part of the mission. Thank you for providing us the opportunity to underscore the importance of engaging users and innovators everywhere in the standards developing process!

3. Explain what is meant by "consensus refers not to unanimity, but to general agreement among stakeholders after thoughtful collaboration has addressed material objections." It sounds entirely too vague.

While it may sound vague to some of us, it is common in the standards developing world.

In the standards process, anyone with an interest may participate, and they may also object. When someone objects, the rationale for the objection is documented so that others with an interest in the work have the opportunity to fix the problem/overcome the objection. Votes can be taken (super majority). There is also a separate appeals process.

The option to vote and separate appeals process help keep the project work from becoming bogged down without fear than any objection has been brushed aside.

While greatly simplified here, the objective is to develop inclusive standards in a speedy process. Anyone should be able to look in the rear view mirror and understand who did the work, what was considered, why decisions were made, etc.

4. Prospects of and desirability of interfacing with FamilySearch

We are a diverse community. Among leaders and the community itself, there are different notions about the importance of standards and standards developing organizations and even how they should be governed.

As some know, the need for FHISO was first expressed from within FamilySearch. Their participation is very desired, but FamilySearch is not yet in general agreement with the concept of a community owned and community governed standards organization intended to serve all of us.

Links to some of the discussions about Why FHISO? follow:

2012-07-25 Why FHISO? Position paper/comment draft v01-04

Family History Information Standards Organisation, Inc. (FHISO) was incorporated earlier this year to serve as the community-owned standards organization serving genealogists, world wide. Standards organizations depend on broad support—that includes support across some of the entrenched territorial lines we find in our community.

Most other sectors have figured out how to bridge those territorial lines— they are already reaping the benefits of open, transparent and democratically developed standards. If we work together as a community, we too can build bridges.

So, let’s get started. The position paper/comment draft, “Why FHISO?” being released today, should get help get the dialog going.

We'll be posting the paper on the FHISO blog and opening up a wiki page here at BetterGEDCOM to support discussions. Whether you agree with it, dispute it or want to add to it, we want to hear from you. Help us pass it around. We’d like comments from innovators and users alike. And around the globe, too, so please share it with those you know and with those you would like to know better.

Why FHISO? v01-04

2012-07-19 (July 19) One Community, One Standard

The need to organize Family History Information Standards Organization (FHISO) was expressed from within FamilySearch by Gordon Clarke. He followed up by creating a BetterGEDCOM wiki page, "Developing the Organization." An international group of volunteers went to work on the project and delivered the governance framework for an international community standards organization at RootsTech 2012. Those of us involved in the project believed FHISO would be the platform by which FamilySearch's GEDCOM X made history, becoming the first standard developed by the community, for the community, serving genealogists, worldwide.

It was not to be.

Despite work in the months since RootsTech devising opportunities for and communicating with FamilySearch, they have opted to continue developing GedcomX in a proprietary fashion; and it will become what is known as a de facto standard. Although democratic community standards make more things "just work" for more people, when GEDCOM X is adopted, there will be fewer unmet needs (less pain). It's safe to assume GEDCOM X will satisfy the requirements of its author, FamilySearch. So, ironically enough, the organization from which the need for FHISO was expressed is unlikely to have need for, nor reason to support, FHISO.

No one likes complications, but without the support of FamilySearch, things for FHISO become complicated by rules and guidelines. For example, because FamilySearch engages in developing proprietary standards, it is possible FHISO will not be able to establish itself as a community standards organization.

In its own right, FamilySearch makes decisions that are in its best interest. While we may continue to hope for better outcomes, accepting and respecting the decisions of others is a golden rule in community standards development.

This means it is time to refocus, so let's begin a dialog.

The organizers have opened discussions about the complications with American National Standards Institute (http://ansi.org/). Let's also use the opportunity of postings this week by Randy Seaver, DearMyrt and others to widen the public comment about FHISO. Let's get the issues sorted out and start making things happen.

Feel free to add an article to this wiki page or add a discussion topic to this page.