Difficulties with Standards

Gordon Bell has a new article on ACM Queue about the difficulties and advantages of the standards process. Some choice quotes:


"The point here is that, in each of these areas, the right standards adopted at the right time can make an important contribution to technical evolution by applying critical design constraints."

"Indeed, our greatest risk going forward may be that we have far too many standards organizations, each with its own set of internal conflicts and an often inconsistent set of goals. Finally, China has declared that it is creating new standards for telecommunications and home A/V."

"It also bears mention that a standard has a far better chance of making a real impact if no royalty is charged to those who employ it. You’d think this would go without saying, but, sadly, it doesn’t. For example, the fact that Xerox was willing to provide a royalty-free license for its Ethernet technology proved to be a significant factor contributing to the general adoption of 802.11. In contrast, IBM paid an inventor for the Token Ring patent, and ultimately that royalty worked to erode support for the ring’s adoption."


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