Yesterday, the Deputy CTO of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release highlighting the efforts (and success) of the Obama Administration in getting data compiled at public expense into the hands of the private sector for commercial repurposing. The release refers to a McKinsey & Company report that estimates that making such data publicly available “can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation, and electricity.”
If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Sir Isaac Newton, 1676
If the phrase “open innovation” has a familiar ring, that’s not surprising. It’s not only a popular buzz phrase, but it has the type of virtuous ring to it that instinctively inspires a favorable reaction. But like most simple phrases, it intrigues rather than enlightens. For example, is open innovation feasible in all areas of creative, commercial and scientific endeavor? If so, do the rules, challenges and rewards differ from discipline to discipline, and if it’s not universally feasible, why not?
The big news in the standards arena yesterday was a joint announcement by five of the standards setting organizations (SSOs) that have been most essential to the creation of the Internet and the Web: IEEE, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and Internet Society (the last three being closely affiliated entities).
Joint announcements by SSOs are rare, and the subject matter of this announcement was more so: each organization was joining in the endorsement of a set of five principles that they assert support a “new paradigm for standards” development.
It’s very rare for me to write a blog entry directed solely at what someone else has written, but there’s an exception to every rule. This one is directed at a posting by Alex Brown, entitled UK Open Standards *Sigh*.
The short blog entry begins with Alex bemoaning the hard, cruel life of the selfless engineers that create technical standards:
It can be tough, putting effort into standardization activities – particularly if you're not paid to do it by your employer. The tedious meetings, the jet lag, the bureaucratic friction and the engineering compromises can all eat away at the soul.
The following is the introduction to the Feature Article in the most recent issue of Standards Today, the free "eJournal of News, Ideas and Analysis" that I have been writing for the last seven years. You can read the entire article here, and sign up for a free subscription here.
For more than 100 years, the United States has been the exemplar of the "bottom up" model of standards development. Under this methodology, society relies on the private sector to identify standards-related needs and opportunities in most sectors, and then develops responsive specifications. Government, for its part, retains ultimate control over domains such as health, safety, and environmental protection, but preferentially uses private sector standards in procurement, and also references private sector standards into law when appropriate (e.g., as building codes).
Until recently, government agencies in the United States commonly developed their own standards for procurement purposes. This era of separate but equal standards creation officially came to an end with the passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. With this legislation, Congress directed government agencies to use "voluntary consensus standards" (VCSs) and other private sector specifications wherever practical rather than "government unique standards," and to participate in the development of these standards as well. In 1998, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 was amended to provide additional guidance to the Federal agencies on complying with the NTTAA.
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.
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.
Standards cover an awful lot of ground — how big things are; how much they weigh; how fast they go; how much power they consume; how pure they are; how they must be shaped so that they fit together — the list goes on and on. But despite the enormous range of characteristics that standards define, you notice that they all have one thing in common: you can describe them by using the word "how."
In short, standards relate to measurable things. Indeed, the earliest formal standards created in societies everywhere were usually those related to weights and measures. Invariably these were established when trade became more sophisticated than tribal bartering. Ever since, the history of standards has largely been one of establishing ways to define more and more measurable characteristics as they became important and as the scientific ability to test them came along.
There is, however, one exception to this rule. Curiously enough, it involves a standard that is as old as weights and measures themselves. And despite its ancient lineage, nations still can't agree for very long on what measuring stick should be used, or how it should work. This is rather remarkable, given that the standard in question is perhaps the only one that nearly everyone makes use of almost very day of their lives.
That standard, of course, is money — dollars, Euros, renminbi — each one a measure of value.
The last issue of Standards Today focused on XML - the underpinning of ODF and hundreds of other standards - and one of the most important standards ever developed. Here is the editorial from that issue.
One of the many intriguing concepts mooted by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest with polymathic insights (his academic explorations range from paleontology to the meaning of the Cosmos) is the "noosphere." In de Chardin's vision, the reality of the world encompassed not just the geosphere (inanimate matter) and biosphere (all forms of life), but an ever expanding nimbus of knowledge representing the fusion of the minds and knowledge of all humans.
In a short while, an important vote will be taken in downtown Denver, Colorado. If as expected that vote is in the affirmative, a unique and important public-private partnership will spring into being. It will also have an extremely ambitious goal: to assess, assemble, explain and promote the complex and evolving web of standards that will be needed to make the vision of a Smart Grid in the United States a reality. It will also mark the end of the first chapter in a journey that began with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
What is a Smart Grid, compared to what we have now? Today, we have centralized production of electricity, with distribution of that power being handled by somewhat interconnected, regional networks to commercial and home users. We also have burgeoning green house gas emissions, growing dependence on foreign oil, both as a result of our need to keep increasing our generating capacity in order to meet whatever the peak national electrical need may be.
Quote of the Day
“The simple answer is that PAX will be judged by the company it keeps”
-Me, quoted in a ZDNet article about Google's new PAX defensive Android cross-license program
NISO Releases Draft STS: Standards Tag Suite for Public Comment Press Release NISO.org April 26, 2017 - The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announces the release of a draft version of NISO Z39.102-201x, STS: Standards Tag Suite, for public comment. STS provides a common XML format that standards developers, publishers, and distributors can use to publish and exchange full-text content and metadata of standards. It is expected that this "standard for standards" will be published in the fall as an XML document marked up in the STS standard after comments on the draft version are addressed and it is approved by NISO Voting Members and by ANSI, the American National Standards Institute....Adoption of STS will offer significant benefits at every step of standards development and use,... Different groups will be able to co-publish standards much more easily, and the advantages continue through to distribution.... ...Full Story
ANSI Seeks Organizations to Participate in Development of New ISO Technical Committee on Governance of Organizations ANSI.org April 25, 2017 - ...A newly proposed International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee, (TC) 309, Governance of organizations, focuses on the increasingly important field of governance relating to aspects of direction, control, and accountability of organizations. Governance is a crucial factor in enabling organizations to achieve goals in a professional, ethical, and legal manner....As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) encourages organizations to actively engage in this important endeavor by participating as a member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
TC 309 will focus on topics related to anti-bribery, conflicts of interest, due diligence, whistleblowing, compliance, remuneration structures, external reporting and more. Additionally TC 309 will be responsible for providing ongoing guidance, support and communications for the recently published standard ISO 37001, Anti-Bribery Management Systems, to promote further awareness, adoption, and revisions, as needed.... ...Full Story
ANSI Seeks Input on Proposed Revisions ANSI Appeals Procedures ANSI.org April 23, 2017 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) seeks public comments on draft revisions to ANSIís Appeals Procedures: ANSI Appeals Board, ANSI Board of Standards Review (BSR), and ANSI Executive Standards Council (ExSC).
The proposed revisions presented in ExSC_029_2017 are the next iteration of the proposed revisions announced in 2016 as ExSC_053_2016. Some public comments received in response to ExSC_053_2016 were accepted and incorporated by the ANSI Executive Standards Council (ExSC), while others were not.
Public comments are invited on new revisions presented in ExSC_029_2017. For reference, ExSC_029_2017 displays the proposed revisions available for public comment and ExSC_029_A_2017, which follows it, incorporates the new revisions as clean copy. ...Full Story
HTTPS Certificate Issuance Becomes More Secure Thanks to New CAA Standard Catalin Cimpanu BleepingComputer.com April 18, 2017 - Last week, the CA/Browser Forum voted to implement CAA mandatory checks before the issuance of new SSL/TLS certificates, as a measure to prevent the misissuance of HTTPS certificates.
According to CA/Browser Forum ballot 187, 100% of all browser makers and 94% of all certificate authorities voted to implement CAA mandatory checks starting September 8, 2017.
CAA stands for Certificate Authority Authorization and is a new extra field that can be added to DNS records, as approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) via RFC 6844....According to the new CAA checking procedure approved by the CA/Browser Forum, the organization that oversees HTTPS certificate issuance operations, certificate authorities (CAs) must check the CAA field in the DNS record for the domain for which a customer asks a new certificate for.
Domain owners can leave instructions in the CAA field to prevent rogue actors from requesting SSL/TLS certificates in their domains.... ...Full Story
Industrial Wireless Guidelines Technical Working Group Press Release NIST.gov April 17, 2017 - Starting in May 2017, the intelligent Systems Division of the NIST is forming a technical working group (TWG) to develop best practices guidelines in selecting and deploying industrial wireless solutions within industrial environments such as process plants and discrete manufacturing factories. Guidelines will consider the entire wireless ecosystem within factories with emphasis on wireless systems operating on the factory floor. This includes factory/plant instrumentation, control systems, and back-haul networks.
The guidelines will be technology and vendor agnostic and will address the current needs of industry to have independent guidelines based on user requirements and measurement science research. The guidelines will be kept concise and will be targeted to the plant/factory floor for tracking of materials, observation and control of processes, improvement of personnel safety, and improvement of plant/factory operational objectives. Classes of control systems will include both feedback and supervisory forms of control....The user community and system integrators are strongly encouraged to participate.... ...Full Story
IFX Version 1.9.1 Published: Accommodates Changes in ATM Processing, Including PCI SSD Requirements and Dynamic Currency Conversion Press Release IFXForum.org April 14, 2017 - The IFX Forum announced today that it has published Version 1.9.1 of the IFX specification. The focus of the new version is to accommodate changes in ATM processing....Release 1.9.1 includes two new features. The first introduces functionality for remote key loading compliant with the requirements recently introduced by the PCI Security Standards Council, which are to be rolled out in 2017. The second feature provides new mechanisms to support dynamic currency conversion, which provides the user of an ATM with information about the cost of a currency conversion in advance of the transaction, so that the user can choose to complete or abandon the transaction.... ...Full Story
Microsoft Closes Its Open Source Code Hosting Service CodePlex, Asks Devs To Move To GitHub Fossbytes.com April 13, 2017 - Microsoft has announced that itís shutting down its open source code hosting service CodePlex. The website will be completely shut down in December, 2017. The backups will be made available to the users in common, transferable formats. Microsoft has also published a guide to help the devs shift their code to Github.
In 2006, Microsoft launched CodePlex as an alternative to SourceForge. Back then, it was being seen as Redmondís one of the biggest steps into the world of open source. But, on Friday, Microsoft announced that CodePlex will be closed down.... ...Full Story
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web, to receive the ACM A.M. Turing Award Press Release W3C April 12, 2017 - The ACM, the
Association for Computing Machinery, today named Sir Tim
Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and Director of the World Wide
Web Consortium, as the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing
Award. The ACM Turing Award is recognized as the highest
distinction in Computer Science and is sometimes referred to as
the "Nobel Prize of Computing." The Award is named for the
British Computer Scientist Alan Turing who is known as the
key founder of theoretical computer science and artificial
intelligence as well as for the development of the Turing
machine, considered a model of a general purpose computer.
Sir Tim is being given this award for inventing the World Wide
Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and
algorithms allowing the Web to scale. Considered one of the
most influential computing innovations in history, the World
Wide Web is the technical infrastructure of society and has
already become the universal connectivity platform.... ...Full Story
W3C responds to UNESCO concerns about Encrypted Media Extensions Press Release w3c.org April 11, 2017 - UNESCO recently published a letter and an article about Encrypted Media Extensions. Since we didnít have an opportunity to set the record straight with them, we are responding here.
The spirit of the letter is anchored in UNESCOís values and the concept of Internet Universality. We agree on the concept of Internet Universality. We even believe that those who are trying to restrict movies from the Internet are violating the concept of universality by preventing certain content from being on the Web.
We note that EME does in fact provide improvements in privacy, security and accessibility over the alternatives....
When UNESCO suggests that laws such as DMCA are against UN principles, we note that their colleagues at WIPO have been a motivating force behind such laws. We would urge UNESCO to use its own weight to insist that Member Statesí laws on the Internet are always reasonable and proportionate and respectful of human rights. We are a technical standards organization but litigating the laws of a single country or many nations (like the WIPO treaty) is the role of legal advocates such as the EFF or UNESCO.... ...Full Story