Well, we’re not supposed to write about the substance of the BRM, but that still leaves lots of room for flavor. I’m posting this (gasp!) from inside the in-progress BRM.
Suits · “Business attire” is the order of the day. You’ve never seen so many Microsofties dressed up. The only one who really carries it off is Brian Jones, who looks damn stylish. I didn’t bring any jackets or ties.
Levels · We’re on level three. On level one is the OFE counter-conference. They have a table set up where we walk to the elevator, like Baptists outside a brothel bringing sinners to Jesus, or in this case Vint Cerf.
Me, I ain’t going to either the OFE or ECMA (read Microsoft) events; eventually I’m gonna have to turn one way or the other and pull the trigger, and it’s gotta be clear that the only finger on it is mine. [Update: Well, I went to the ECMA reception because I had to lobby for some votes and that’s where they were. So if it ends up going the wrong way you can suspect me of being influenced by ECMA’s booze.]
HoD · Rhymes with “bod”, means “Head of Delegation”. In theory, only they speak. Arriving on the first day, I ran into my old friend and XML co-conspirator Murata Makoto, and as I was greeting him delightedly he laughed “Ha-ha, I’m the head of the Japanese Delegation; I can talk and you have to shut up”.
Actually, HoDs can ask their delegates to speak for them and frequently do.
Influence · It isn’t distributed evenly. Any of the following give you an unfair advantage: Being in the front row, being near the center, and having an efficient, experienced, loud-voiced HoD.
Pixless · We were also warned sternly, with dark rumblings about Swiss law no less, not to take pictures inside the room. So, this is from outside.
Some Countries · It’s unfair that your attitude to a whole nation can be changed by the people representing it at an ISO event. But it happens.
Geek Stuff · An individual power outlet on the top of the desk at each place, and fast reliable WiFi. The Geneva Conference Center is OK by me.
Yawn · It can get awfully slow sometimes. Alex Brown, the convenor, has been doing this for years, and I alternately admire his patience and wish someone would put steroids in his corn-flakes so he’d start applying a cattle-prod to leisurely, badly-prepared speakers.
Maple Leaf Forever · One reason I couldn’t say “no” is that I’ve never been asked to represent Canada before, and probably never will be again. Each delegation has a placard, wielded by the HoD, held up to request recognition, or to vote. Our HoD got tired one time and I got to hold it up to cast Canada’s vote.
First-Name Basis · There are no people, only countries. At first, it’s weird hearing things like “Finland has a question for South Africa”, but you get used to it fast.
Tools · The Mac “Preview” program is beyond wonderful. I typically have many tens of megabytes of OOXML spec-ware and comment-ware open in a dozen different Preview windows and the frighteningly-instant search never slows down perceptibly. Mmmm.
Stage Fright · It was going to be Canada’s turn to raise an issue shortly after lunch, and we’d agreed on which, and that I was going to raise it, but we hadn’t (quite) hashed out our consensus position. So we came back after lunch, and Belgium and Brazil both passed unexpectedly. Our HoD handed me the placard and there I was with no safety net, improvising what I thought I could say in real-time, looking at the rest of the delegation out of the corners of my eyes. I’ve spoken to two thousand people and been way less nervous.
USB · Memory disks, I mean. Progress would have ground completely to a halt if we couldn’t pass around USB sticks full of PDFs.