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1998-02-07 15:31:15


Kappelman: It's Too Late for a Single Standard


Prof. Leon Kappelman of the University of North Texas argues that the quest for a universally acceptable century date standard is too expensive -- not in money but in time. There is not enough time.

This means that there will be no universally agreed-upon standard in 2000.

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From: "Leon Kappelman" To: Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 20:43:21 -600 (CST6CDT) Subject: Standards

Standards are a good thing. They can reduce the cost of use, development, support, maintenance, integration, training, management, etc. In our first white paper (October 1996) the SIM Year 2000 Working Group recommended and published a date representation standard that is basically ISO 8601 without the truncation clause. This recommended date standard is also in our 1997 book.

But standards are very difficult to retrofit to the world after the fact. Moreover, setting standards is a very political matter. Consider that we have had electricity for nearly a century, but we do not have a global standard for electrical plugs or transmission frequencies. Global telephone system, similar problems. Closer to home: It took the ANSI EDI committee over 6 years to agree on how to represent the 2 century digits and the standard will not go into effect until the 3rd or 4th quarter of 1998. I could go on, but I hope you get my point.

Y2k-wise, the immediate need to mitigate risk is greater than the need to quest for common global agreement on date representation standards. The result is more complexity and cost in the short term and long term. But the primary constraint at this moment is time, not money. Were it 1988 or 1989 standards might rightly be the priority. Regrettably it 1998.

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