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Re: ansi/ccitt doc availability

>I would like to comment on spec availability.  It is not only true that
>current participants in the specifications process might, should, and do
>want to access certain CCITT or ANSI docs but this requirement will go on as
>long as this standard is in use.  It is my experience over the last ten
>years or so that the real way you get these documents is to find a
>rapportuer and stay in touch with them to sneak a copy of the doc out in a
>stable draft stage.  This is effectively the current mechanism.  Once you
>have to access these specs in the Real World it becomes essentially
>impossible for anyone with less than infinite funding and time to find all
>these documents.  This is as opposed to the IETF mechanism, whereby
>documents are by definition available, on-line, in ascii text format.  It's
>in the document spec, RFC 1543.  ANSI documents seem to be typically sold at
>a price around U.S.$1.00 per page, and they don't seem to be significantly
>more available in other countries.  This is a most efficient barrier to
>interoperability and innovation which I don't claim to be able to change but
>I do claim that the results of this group's efforts will have to deal with.
>So, even though I personally have many years of experience that have taught
>me to vigorously appreciate Mr. Jueneman's efforts to keep people informed,
>I would like to say that the process is kind of broken when we have to pull
>stunts like this.

I agree completely, and vociferously. In addition to the page cost, the problem 
of knowing what documents are available, how to order them, etc., is a 
substantial barrier to the uninitiated.

Clearly one individual operating alone cannot hope to change the system. But 
sooner or later, even organizations like ANSI, ITU, and ISO have to service 
their constitutents. In my personal opinion (which some others may not share), 
these various organizations do a reasonably good job of performing their 
secretariate function, and I don't have any quarrel with the fact that it takes 
a staff to keep such organizations running effectively, and somehow they have 
to be able to pay the bills. But we as a technical community ought to be able 
to find a better way of funding such efforts than by charging a page-rate basis 
for printed publications.

Maybe the answer will be to put the information up on a web page, and to use 
electronic commerce to pay for the information that is downloaded (presumably 
at much lower cost than for printed documents). But unfortunately,  I suspect 
that this really won't work very well, because the cost is still likely to be 
higher than most of us would be prepared to spend out of our personal pockets, 
and the effort involved in getting corporate approval for an electronic 
commerce payment willprobably be more work than buying the hardcopy documents 
the traditional way.

But interested people might check out ANSI's home page at www.ansi.org, and 
follow up with some of the contact people listed. Maybe if enough people 
complain, we can make some of these problems go away.


Robert R. Jueneman
GTE Laboratories
40 Sylvan Road
Waltham, MA 02254

"The opinions expressed are my own, and may not 
reflect the official position of GTE, if any, on this subject."