Mark Davis mark.davis at
Sun Apr 2 20:52:42 CEST 2006


Doug Ewell wrote:
> Frank Ellermann <nobody at xyzzy dot claranet dot de> wrote:
>>> But the $64,000 question is... would it have happened if this
>>> group had a liaison officer with ISO 3166 ;-)
>> The CS disaster ?  Many folks including the IAB Chair thought
>> that it was wrong, she wrote an open letter about it to the
>> 3166 MA.  It was about a years later that I finally understood
>> that they are simply forced to recycle alpha-2 region codes at
>> some point in time.
> They are only forced to recycle code elements to the extent they feel 
> compelled to achieve mnemonicity.
> Out of 676 possible alpha-2 code elements, 345 of them -- more than 
> HALF -- are not allocated in any way.  They are neither assigned, 
> reserved, private-use, escape codes, nor "not used at present stage." 
> They are *completely free*.  This is over 100 more than the total 
> number of "officially assigned" code elements.
> Almost all ISO 3166-1 code elements are at least somewhat mnemonic for 
> the country name they represent, in some language, and *that* is what 
> causes the perceived shortage.  There are a lot of country names that 
> start with A, B, C, G, M, S, and T.  When another one comes along, the 
> mnemonic code space may be tight, but there are scores of available 
> code elements.
> Remember that every code element ever assigned to a country since 1974 
> is either assigned or reserved today, and there are still 345 that 
> have never been used.
>> Five years or fifty doesn't change this.
> There may not be a theoretical difference between 5 and 50 years, but 
> there is arguably a practical difference.  There is a noticeably 
> better chance for a formerly used name (and thus a formerly used code 
> element) to go out of common usage, and for data to be replaced or 
> retagged, after 50 years than after 5 years (or 10, the actual elapsed 
> time in the case of CS).  Tragically, in the U.S. there are some 
> people who still think Czechoslovakia is a country.
> -- 
> Doug Ewell
> Fullerton, California, USA
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