The Standards Blog


Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 @ 05:44 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 19

Over the last few months, I've frequently pointed out the vulnerability of important open source projects that are supported and controlled by corporate sponsors, rather than hosted by independent foundations funded by corporate sponsors.  One of the examples I've given is SUSE Linux, which has been hosted and primarily supported by Novell since that company acquired SuSE Linux AG in 2003.  Novell, as you know, is expected to be acquired by a company called Attachmate a few weeks from now, assuming approval of the transaction by the Novell stockholders and by German competition regulators.

Recently, the future of the SUSE Linux Project (as compared to the Novell commercial Linux distribution based on the work of that project) has become rather murky, as reported by Pamela Jones,
at Groklaw.   Apparently, Novell is facilitating some sort of spin out of the Project, which is good but peculiar news.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 @ 05:09 PM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 17

The pace of technology is wondrous indeed. No corner of our lives seems safe from digital invasion, from picture frames to pasta makers. For years now, we have been threatened with Internet-enabled refrigerators, and perhaps 2011 will see it so.

Nor is the process likely to stop there. Soon, we are told, our homes will become infested by "mesh networks" of sensors, each one whispering information surreptitiously to its neighbor, in order to render our lives more energy efficient. But in so doing, they will observe our every move and report it to heavens knows whom.

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 @ 08:49 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 9,578

 Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Last Thursday the European Commission took a major step forward on the “openness” scale.  The occasion was the release of a new version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) which definitively endorsed the use of open source friendly standards when providing “public services” within the EU. This result was rightly hailed by open source advocates like Open Forum Europe   But the EC took two steps backward in every other way as it revised its definition of "open standards," presumably reflecting IT industry efforts (e.g., by the Business Software Alliance) to preserve the value of software patents.
  In this blog entry, I’ll review the seven-year long process under which the “European Interoperability Framework” (EIF) first set a global high water mark for liberalizing the definition of open standards, and then retreated from that position.   
Monday, December 13th, 2010 @ 07:00 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 5,078


On December 8, the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) issued a public Request for Information on behalf of the recently formed Sub-Committee on Standards of the National Council of Research and Technology. The titular goal of the RFI is to assist the Sub-Committee in assessing the “Effectiveness of Federal Agency Participation in Standardization in Select Technology Sectors.” Although the publication of the RFI gave rise to not a single article in the press, this event was none the less extremely consequential.   
Thursday, December 9th, 2010 @ 05:53 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 22

The following is a position statement I contributed to an on-line forum that will launch at 11 EST today focusing on policy reform within the Chinese standardization system.  You can join in that discussion here

By Georgio (Own work (Photo personnelle)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsA variety of constituencies from the West have taken it upon themselves to reach out to China to "educate" the Chinese about the existing global standards development infrastructure, and to urge them to take part in that infrastructure in the same way as do other countries.  Clearly, having China, with a single national vote, participate in ISO, IEC and ITU would be best for the status quo players that have become skillful in participating in those organizations through decades of effort.  It's interesting to ask, however, whether that course of action, without more, would truly be best for China and its people.

If I were a policy maker in China, the most obvious question that I would be asking would be what strategy Chinese industry should follow as regards consortia, as well as the "Big I's."  To date, China has participated primarily in the latter, and in only a few of the former (e.g., OASIS and the W3C).  But China has launched a number of domestic consortia open either largely, or only, to domestic companies, to develop "home grown" standards.  And that seems backwards to me.

Monday, November 29th, 2010 @ 07:07 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 8,490

 Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Ever since the proposed acquisition of Novell by Attachmate Corporation there has been much curiosity, but almost no information, relating to the other major piece of the deal: the acquisition of 882 patents by a consortium led by Microsoft for $450 million. There are three main areas of undisclosed information that are piquing peoples’ interest, and in this bog entry I’ll go through each of them.  
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 @ 10:32 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 18,832

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Two days have now passed since Novell announced the high-level terms of its proposed sale, and so far the press has not been able to prize any additional details out of the parties involved. As a result, speculation is rife on several key points, and especially with respect to the 822 patents that Novell proposes to sell to a consortium of companies, only one of which has been disclosed: Microsoft.   Given this dearth of information and the fact that I’ve been a transactional lawyer for over 30 years, I’ll use this blog entry to lay out those things that can be known, those that can’t (yet) be known, and when we can expect additional disclosures.  (This is a long blog post, so if you have a short attention span and only care about Linux, that bit is at the end.)


Friday, November 12th, 2010 @ 08:35 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,271

Handshake, by Tobias Wolker, multiple licenses at The last twenty-five years have been marked by an explosion of consortia formed to develop, promote and/or otherwise support standards enabling information and communications technology. The reasons for forming a new consortium, as compared to adding to the work program of an existing body, include the absence in such organizations of appropriate technical expertise, interest, and/or supporting programs, as well as the benefits to be gained from directing all of the resources and efforts of a new consortium to the achievement of a set of specific objectives. This article reviews the benefits to be obtained from launching a new consortium, the criteria that should be used to determine whether doing so is appropriate, the programs and functionalities available for achieving specific goals, and the stages of institutional maturity at which each function should be added in order to accomplish a new organization's mission.

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 8,067

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

After sixteen years of working in parallel to the traditional standards infrastructure, the World Wide Web Consortium has taken an interesting decision: to begin submitting selected W3C Recommendations to that same system for endorsement. In doing so, it joins the small handful of consortia (seven, to be exact) that have applied for this option out of the hundreds of consortia currently active in the information and communications (ICT) to apply for that option.   

If this process sounds vaguely familiar, that’s likely because this is the same process that OASIS used to gain global endorsement of its OpenDocument Format (ODF).  Microsoft took a similar, but procedurally distinct, route with OOXML, its competing document format, when it offered it to ECMA, which enjoys a special “Fast Track” relationship with JTC1.  What won't sound familiar is the conditions that the W3C has successfully included in its application to make submissions, on which more below. 

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 @ 12:01 AM
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Views: 4,893

Better run for cover . . . it's Election Day in the USA

HimselfHeaven help us all (all us Americans, anyway) — it's election time again. That means we've once again descended into a morass of partisan invective, not to mention lies, damn lies, and (of course) statistics. Except that this election year it seems that everyone is behaving even worse than last time, when everyone acted even worse than the time before, when, well, do you sense a trend here?

One hallmark of this year's political "discourse" (to abuse a term) has been the number of astonishingly angry and ill-informed accusations made by some candidates against their opponents (and others). Nothing unusual about that, sad to say. But what is different is the degree of acceptance, and even approval, exhibited by many voters that in earlier years might have rejected these candidates as well as their statements.