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   Re: Why do we write standards?

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  • From: "Michael S. Brothers" <Michael.S.Brothers@EMCIns.Com>
  • To: David Brownell <david-b@pacbell.net>
  • Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 10:24:38 -0600 (Central Standard Time)

This thread is fascinating. I liken much of what I have heard to the 
efforts to standardize HDTV, and if you look at that, it's hard to call 
standardization anything else but good for consumers. Broadcasters beam 
one type of signal, sets receive one type of signal. The plus side is 
that once the standard was established, all industry participants had 
access, and any company could start producing broadcast hardware or 
HDTV sets. Thus, consumers will reap the benefits of competition 
between Sony, Philips/Magnavox, Toshiba, etc by having a choice of 
features and lowering prices as the technology matures. Without the 
standard, we would have had Beta vs. VCR all over again.

Things like TCP/IP and HTTP, which became standards, propelled the Web. 
Absence of standards led to the current situation in operating systems, 
where one, through sheer genius of marketing and not ease of use or 
having "freedom to innovate", became the de facto stadard. So now we 
can have lawsuits, people who use Linux or Mac OS looking down their 
noses at Windows users, browser incompatibility leading designers to 
take more into account to put up a storefront on the Web than they 
should, etc. In short, a bad situation.

Standards are not Socialist, nor are they in the best interest of a 
consortia, rather are the key to true consumer freedom. Perhaps the W3C 
is not the body to do it, but perhaps it is as well. I don't know. But 
I applaud any attempts to take all ideas for solving a problem, 
bringing the ideas together, and having a handful of smart people 
hammer out THE solution, so vendors can take it and start putting it in 
place. And all the while the consumer wins because their only choice is 
in which product to buy, not which standard to support.

Take Care,
mike brothers

Michael S. Brothers
"I shall walk through the valley of the shadow
of death. On second thought, I shall run through the
valley of the shadow of death, since you get
through the valley quicker that way."

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