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What is a standard and why standards bodies won't sue you (was RE: ISOintellectual property (was Standards))

> I dunno, I think considering how complex and twisted XML has become, I'd
> rather write a bunch of SNMP hooks.
> --Tom

RE:  What is a standard?

Over the last few years, it has been my job to make determinations about
what is and isn't a standard for XML.com's Resource guide and the IEEE's
Internet Computing Magazine.  Here's my criteria, for what it's worth:

There are basically three main kinds of "standards":

1)  ISO Standards (the only "real" international standards)

2) Specifications that are the deliverables of various working group
charters (W3C, IETF, and whatever standards body i'm going to regret not
including here -- oh yeah, OASIS :) -- where usually a minimum of 2+ years
and 30+ companies and a bunch of invited experts actually lock themselves up
in rooms for hours on end and figure out the best way to do something that,
ideally, takes the needs of all parties the standard will affect into
consideration.   And the public at large often has the last word...

3) Defacto standards - Widely implemented technologies -- whether they were
just the first thing to "catch on" - like .GIFs and .JPEGs - or were sort of
force-fed to the point that they had to be contended with, such as WAP, or
(less often) because of their usefulness and elegance, became widely adopted
-- here's where SAX goes.

The fact that a specification comes from the W3C or IETF or ISO does mean
something, to me.  It means that, for instance, a single company cannot
control it -- why Sun wasn't allowed to make Java an ISO standard, for
example.  XML Digital Signatures are another example -- where two standards
bodies -- W3C and the IETF -- had to work together to ensure a fair and
technically feasible result that could be trusted and implemented by all
with everyone's interests represented.

Defacto standards are important too because the market has decided that they
must be contended with.

Re:  IP and Derivative works, etc.

XML is as simple now as it was when it was completed in February 1998.
Simplifications of it merely complicate its simplicity :-)

Seriously though: "Simplifying" XML only seems to undermine both of its
creators' deliberate intentions of providing an truly international
text-based data interchange format that builds on the existing work of
others and is robust enough to build upon for the future.

The XML W3C Recommendation's references to ISO standards are shining
examples of any good specification's goal (standard or no) of building upon
existing widely-implemented technologies in order to foster both backwards
compatibility and future interoperability between all computing technologies
(that's right, everything).  And YES other languages with non-english
alphabets count too (especially the buddist/asian manuscripts!!)

The idea that ISO would start going after implementors is confused to say
the least.  Many of the people that worked on SGML for over a decade are the
same people that created XML in the first place - to "fix" SGML so it could
work on the Web.  The W3C was the chosen forum -- rather than ISO - so it
could be completed in a timely manner in order to be useful to the Web that
was going to need it so badly. (Although most web users were and are still
unaware of this need.)

Standards bodies want their technologies be referenced by later technology
specifications.  It's the whole point of creating the damn things in the
first place!  Honest.