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   RE: [xml-dev] You call that a standard?

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 Bob Glushko wrote:
     But now that I look back at it, I have to conclude that we vastly overinvested in standards activities, spending gobs of money to participate in the W3C or OASIS or ebxml or UBL to do "good work"  whose direct ROI for us was minuscule.  We might have been better off investing our time and talent in products rather than standards because a lot of them got co-opted or undermined.  Matt Fuchs, Alex Milowski, Terry Allen, Arofan Gregory, Sue Probert, David Burdett,  Brian Hayes, Lisa Seaburg-- we had armies fighting the standards  battles..  I approved a lot of travel expenses for a long time. 

I certainly recognize the syndrome from companies I've worked for. But on the other hand, one can say exactly the same about research, or advertising. Most of the money spent is wasted. The problem is predicting in advance.
I think there's very little difference in practice between different standards or pseudo-standards organizations. They start off small and fast, if they are successful they get bigger, eventually they get so big they produce standards that no-one can afford to implement, and in the end they collapse under their own weight. The quality of the work they do depends on the individuals who participate and not on the companies behind them.
The direct ROI for the participants is always miniscule. Standards work doesn't give you competitive advantage, it increases the potential market for all the players (and especially the non-dominant players). Given that fact, it's remarkable how much people are prepared to spend on it. In fact, people probably only spend the money because they are persuaded to do so by their best engineers, and their best engineers are motivated by the technical challenge rather than the ROI.
But without these activities, the IT market would be even more susceptible to monopoly domination than it is now (and always has been).
Michael Kay


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