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It is the geek way to attempt to find algorithmic
answers to what are fundamentally, social problems.
Applying the term, "universal" to a specification
is the most transparent way to sell any specification
as a standard. It does not make it so.
Eventually, in any ontological approach, one has to
encode conditions for determining membership in a class.
Those conditions are the real substance of agreements
that define a community of interest. Because of
issues of intellectual property, the ease of large
companies using their customers and their monopoly
positions to create a standards patina, because
our world wide community becomes ever more competitive
with itself as both intellectual property and jobs
are moving rapidly to lower cost centers, and because
effective communications are the biggest barrier to
the success of that, we must define some conditions
for the use of the term 'standard'.
In my opinion, there are three legs, an organization
must stand on to create legitimate standards:
1. Works through a legitimate and recognized standards organization
with transparent processes. This means that while a consortium can
and should create and vette the technology, the actual work of editing
and shepherding the standard should be done by professionals. It
isn't always apparent from the point of view of the technically trained
how much of that work is legal work. X3D goes through ISO. ISO
has provided much input, much technical assistance, and a great
deal of credibility to the W3DC. It is an exemplary relationship.
2. Must insist on participation agreements that clarify
the status of all Intellectual Property constraints. Ideally, this
is royalty-free implementation and indemnification for all
members against lawsuits. This stops the SCO nonsense up front.
We can't fix spilt milk but we can get smarter by learning how
to stop the IP wars before they start.
3. Must offer conformance testing with a service mark for
products which pass the conformance tests. This proves
legally and technically that a product is what it says it is
with regards to the standard.
With these three legs, one knows:
a) What a standard is. It isn't a specification. It isn't
proprietary and encumbered technology with a patina
of 'standard wording' on it.
b) What one must do to comply and how to prove it.
c) What to expect. It is safe to implement the technology
without keeping a stash of money for the lawsuits.
Without such conditions, terms such a 'standard' in today's
market are virtually meaningless, and the grand experiment
in open systems, open source, and equal access will grind
to a halt.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Eric, i think maybe you are right, universal might not be the right word
to apply to a particular object but it does seem to fit a top of the
domain ( a class of objects ).