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
“Open standards are simply better for developers”
-Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG, announcing the SIG's first standard
International Standards Organizations Issue Updated Guidelines for Common Patent Policy Implementation ANSI Weekly News July 29, 2015 - World Standards Cooperation (WSC) partners the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have issued updated guidelines for implementation of the Common Patent Policy for ITU-T/ITU-R/ISO/IEC intended to address patented technology in international standards....The WSC organizations instituted the patent policy in 2007, with the goal of promoting greater awareness and practical guidance for participants of technical bodies in the case that patent matters arise. The policy encourages early disclosure and identification of patents that may relate to standards under development, as greater transparency promotes efficiency and helps avoid potential patent right issues in standards development....As part of this implementation, ISO, IEC, and ITU jointly adopted Guidelines for the Implementation of the Common Patent Policy and a Patent Statement and License Declaration Form to support implementation of the patent policy. Additionally, the WSC organizations each maintain an online patent information database intended to facilitate the standards-setting process.... ...Full Story
ANSI and Mexican Accreditation Body Sign MoU, Strengthening Collaboration for Global Climate Action ANSI Weekly News July 28, 2015 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Entidad Mexicana de Acreditacion, AC (EMA, Mexico) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) pledging to mutually work together to harmonize their accreditation processes for greenhouse gas (GHG) programs. This agreement will enable each accreditation body to provide the validation and verification bodies operating in both countries greater flexibility, consistency, and value. The signing is a response to the July Climate Summit of the Americas conference, hosted by the Government of Ontario, Canada, which set out to foster and strengthen partnerships among jurisdictions for global climate action and build motivation and support for carbon pricing.
The signing will ultimately help bolster a spectrum of GHG programs and other businesses that rely on accreditation to operate with optimum efficiency in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2008, ANSI has offered an accreditation program for organizations providing third-party validation/verification services for the reduction and removal of greenhouse gases. The ANSI Accreditation Program for Greenhouse Gas Validation/Verification Bodies operates according to requirements defined in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard ISO 14065:2013, Greenhouse gases - Requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies for use in accreditation or other forms of recognition.
EMA, the Mexican accreditation body, is Mexico’s first non-government body for the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies, which comprise testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, clinical laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies, proficiency testing providers, and GHG emission verification/validation bodies. Since 2010, EMA has offered an accreditation program for third-party validation/verification of greenhouse gases in the Mexican market....
ANSI and EMA are both members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and PAC, and operate ISO 14065 accreditation programs. ...Full Story
Tech Giants Boost Open Source Container Collaboration Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider July 27, 2015 - The Linux Foundation this week announced the formation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a consortium dedicated to developing a new set of common container technologies and driving their adoption.
CNCF aims to make it easier for businesses to build and deploy containerized cloud applications oriented to microservices. The goal is to develop cloud-native applications that allow Internet companies to make scaling their businesses more practical.
The group's founders -- more than two dozen major technology companies -- include AT&T, Box, Cisco, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Red Hat, Twitter and VMware. Additional members will join the group in the coming weeks....The announcement of the new technology foundation comes on the heals of another major Linux Foundation-sponsored group. CoreOS and Docker last month announced the formation of the Open Container Project, a nonprofit coalition of 21 industry leaders aiming to establish minimal common standards for cloud storage software containers.
Many of the companies banding together in OCP also signed on to found CNCF....Open source container-packaged applications are important, Messina emphasized. They give organizations moving from building monolithic applications to a distributed application a way to separate applications from the constraints of the infrastructure. ...Full Story
Updegrove, The Lafayette Campaign (Book Review) Brenda Jubin ValueWalk July 27, 2015 - ...Andrew Updegrove, author of The Alexandria Project, is back with another Frank Adversego cyber-thriller, The Lafayette Campaign: A Tale of Deception and Elections. If you (well, only if you're a Republican) think that the worst case scenario is that Donald Trump decides the next presidential election, assuming that he runs as a third-party candidate, think again. Elections can be tipped or determined not only by third-party candidates (Ralph Nader is often said to have been the spoiler in 2000) and Supreme Court decisions but also by hackers.
The more electronic elections become, the more hackable they are. Competing rogue forces can devote funds and skills to shaping their outcome. Indeed, just think about it. Why give millions of dollars to PACs, money which is often wasted, when you can fund a bunch of hackers? The Chicago “vote early and often” pols and the RNC Watergate crew worked in the pre-digital era. Today their exploits seem laughably primitive. Elections can be stolen much more elegantly with a few lines of code.
The Lafayette Campaign is a fast-paced thriller that takes the reader through the machinations of election cyber-fraud. A perfect beach book. ...Full Story
Apple and Samsung may help make the SIM card disappear Jacob Kastrenakes the Verge July 25, 2015 - The SIM card as we know it may be about to disappear. According to the Financial Times, Apple and Samsung are in discussions with mobile carriers to help develop and implement a new SIM card standard that could make it easier to switch between service providers. The report refers to the new standard as an embedded SIM — or an e-SIM — which would remain inside the phone and give consumers the ability to switch carriers without getting a new card, rather than locking them into a specific carrier, as they do now. That means no more swapping SIMs to switch phones or carriers; it would all be done through an interface on the device....The GSM Association, an industry group that represents mobile operators, tells the Financial Times that "the majority of operators" are on board with the shift over to e-SIM. That reportedly includes AT&T, T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Orange, as well as other international carriers. The association confirmed Apple and Samsung's participation in developing the new standard, but the companies' involvement may not yet be final. The association says of Apple: "While we are optimistic, a formal agreement with them is still in progress."... ...Full Story
Energy commission looks to strengthen grid’s cyber security Judy Greenwald Business Insurance July 24, 2015 - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is proposing rules intended to improve the nationwide electric system’s cyber security.
FERC said in a statement last week that it is seeking comment on seven updated critical infrastructure protection reliability standards proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., an Atlanta-based industry group.
The standards are intended to address risks to communication networks and related bulk electric system assets, as well as the development of standards for supply chain management security controls to protect the bulk electric system from system vulnerabilities and malware threats, FERC said in its statement.... ...Full Story
Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2 published as International Standard 26300:2015 by ISO/IEC Italo Vignoli The Document Foundation July 23, 2015 - The Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) Version 1.2, the native file format of LibreOffice and many other applications, has been published as International Standard 26300:2015 by ISO/IEC. ODF defines a technical schema for office documents including text documents, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents like drawings or presentations....ODF is developed by the OASIS consortium. The current version of the standard was published in 2011, and then was submitted to ISO/IEC in 2014.... ...Full Story
New edition of ITU’s flagship global ICT regulatory report Press Release ITU-T July 23, 2015 - The latest edition of ITU’s comprehensive report on global ICT regulatory developments, Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2015, reveals a fast-evolving ICT landscape, as devices and services proliferate, broadband connectivity becomes increasingly pervasive, and the hyper-connected world of the ‘Internet of Everything’ starts to become a reality.
The world’s most comprehensive overview of the policy trends and challenges facing today’s ICT regulators, ITU’s Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2015 provides a host of data and analysis to help regulators, ICT analysts and tech journalists navigate the issues surrounding so-called ‘fourth-generation’ ICT regulation.... ...Full Story
Senate bill proposes cyber security standard for cars Martyn Williams Newwork World July 22, 2015 - Cars will have to be much better protected against hacking and new privacy standards will govern data collected from vehicles under proposed legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act of 2015 seeks to get a step ahead of what is seen by some as one of the next fronts in hacking: connected vehicles, which are always on the Internet and rely on sophisticated computer control systems....the act would mandate that critical software systems in cars be isolated and the entire vehicle be safeguarded against hacking by using “reasonable measures.” The proposed bill doesn’t define those measures.... ...Full Story
LibreOffice 5.0 to Get Numerous DOCX Improvements Softpedia July 22, 2015 - The Document Foundation has released the third RC (Release Candidate) for the LibreOffice 5.0.0 branch, which is now available for download and testing....This is a very complex piece of software and it will take more than just a few RCs to finish all the work. The changelog for this release is quite extensive, which means that a lot of work is still left to be done.
LibreOffice 5.0 is coming along.
Some of the new features that are landing in this new version include Emoji and in-word replacement support, style previews in the Sidebar, better image cropping, word-compatible text highlighting, DOC improvements, better table management, multiple OOXML improvements, image drag and drop, and much more.... ...Full Story