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
“It’s time to treat our digital ecosystem the way we do public health”
Unreadiness Team Amy Webb Slate.com August 31, 2014 - ...It’s time to treat our digital ecosystem the way we do public health. The solution is an agency staffed by cybersecurity experts who understand the delicate balance between national security and personal privacy. They must create protocol that’s proactive and have the authority to enact it. There should be a unified process in place for threats to critical infrastructure, one for which all private contractors receive ongoing training. Currently, there is no single organization that’s aware of all the cyber-related research and development work being funded by the government. An agency should be responsible for coordinating that research, making sure it’s not redundant across agencies and can actually be used.... ...Full Story
The Alexandria Project Review GoodReads August 29, 2014 - A gripping, plausible doomsday plot complemented by insights into the murky worlds of cybersecurity, international politics, and venture capital. The Alexandria Project by Andrew Updegrove is a fast-paced and high-octane cyber thriller. It is a finely plotted Sci-Fi mystery, which takes you on an adventure that is full of twist and turns.
I received an ebook Kindle version from Andrew Updegrove in exchange for reading and giving my review about the book. Thank you Mr. Updegrove, I can't hardly wait until the sequel "The Lafayette Deception" will be available. ...Full Story
New Course on Leadership Strategies Added to StandardsLearn.org Site ANSI Weekly News August 20, 2014 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is pleased to announce the launch of a new online education course on StandardsLearn.org, the premier online source for standards and conformity assessment education. The new course, titled “Leadership Strategies and Skills: The Fundamentals,” joins a wide array of easy-to-use educational tools that address the full range of standards activities. All of the resources and courses hosted by StandardsLearn.org are free and provided by ANSI as a public service.
“Leadership Strategies and Skills: The Fundamentals” provides users with a detailed overview of significant leadership characteristics, as well as focused guidance on how to pursue strategies to develop and improve related skills. The course is relevant to individuals who are new to leadership roles, or who are seeking to brush up on their leadership skills, and is applicable to all types of leadership positions. It also includes specialized guidance on leadership topics relevant to standards-setting environments, including the duties and responsibilities associated with serving as a technical committee chair or convenor in the international standards development process.... ...Full Story
Happy 20th Birthday, Simon! Standards Boost Smartphones Then and Now ANSI Weekly News August 28, 2014 - This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the Simon Personal Communicator, a revolutionary device that incorporated elements of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cellular phones into what many have called the world’s very first smartphone. The Simon, developed by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member IBM Corporation, weighed 1.1 pounds and featured a stylish leather cover....One exciting feature of the Simon—unique when it was released—was its ability to send emails.... ...Full Story
Why FIDO Alliance Standards Will Kill Passwords Dark Reading August 27, 2014 - Bill Gates predicted the demise of passwords more than a decade ago. But the FIDO Alliance believes its proposed new authentication standards are a game changer that will transform the computing landscape in just three years. Phillip Dunkelberger, President & CEO of Nok Nok Labs, tells why he believes that the time is finally ripe for a password-free computing experience. [video] ...Full Story
Internet Industrial Application Committee Established in Beijing USITO.org August 26, 2014 - on August 12, the inaugural meeting of the China Internet Society Internet Industrial Application Committee ("the Internet Industrial Application Committee") was held in Beijing.
Co-founding organizations include:
Internet Society of China (ISC),
Information Center of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT),
China Household Electrical Appliances Association (CHEAA)
Key objectives of the Committee include piloting and expanding the application of internet technologies in industrial supply chains, bolstering information security, as well as promotion of breakthroughs in critical technologies including Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data.
As of August 12, more than 50 organizations had joined as members, including companies in a variety of sectors such as equipment manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, household electrical appliances, and software, as well as basic telecommunications operators, internet industry giants, and relevant industry associations and media.... ...Full Story
China Developing an Operating System to Take on Microsoft, Google and Apple NYT.com August 25, 2014 - China could have a new homegrown operating system by October to take on imported rivals such as Microsoft, Google and Apple, Xinhua, the government news agency, reported.
Computer technology became an area of tension between China and the United States after a number of run-ins over cybersecurity. China is now looking to help its domestic industry catch up with imported systems such as Windows from Microsoft and the mobile operating system Android from Google.
The operating system would first appear on desktop devices and later extend to smartphone and other mobile devices,... ...Full Story
Three Open Source Hardware Projects' Challenges and Successes Libby Clark Linux.com August 25, 2014 - While open source practices have come to dominate the software industry, they're still fairly new to hardware. Many open source hardware projects are now seeing some early success but there are still many challenges ahead,...MakerBot VP Anthony Moschella, Open Prosthetics Project Founder and Iraq war veteran Jonathan Kuniholm, and IBM Power Systems General Manager Doug Balog each had a unique take on open source hardware. But all agreed that open source principles will speed technological innovation whether it's in 3D printing, prosthetics, or servers. Here are some of the successes and challenges they highlighted and the opportunities they presented for the open source community to get involved and make a difference....
1. MakerBot's Thingiverse boasts a community of about 13,000 makers, designers and engineers who download and share open source designs for printed objects. The Robohand, for example, is a 3D-printable prosthetic hand for children who are continuously outgrowing their prosthetics and can't afford to replace them. The open source design allowed for rapid iteration and improvements that made it easier to assemble and share....
2. Open Prosthetics Project
The promise: Open source designs can help make more affordable prosthetics with much improved capabilities in dexterity and manipulation than are currently available, to amputees around the world.
Success: The Open Prosthetics Project has started a small open source project that includes hardware, firmware, and software, and is primarily working with two university laboratories....Challenge: Finding financing is difficult because the prosthetics market is too small to attract venture capital. And even though their code is open source, the cost of entry for developers is fairly high because participation requires approximately $20,000 in Matlab tools to get started.... ...Full Story
The Impact Of The New HDcctv AT 2.0 Standard Todd Rockoff SourceSecurity.com August 22, 2014 - Editor's Note: HDcctv Alliance has announced that Dahua has opened its patented HDCVI technology to the global video surveillance industry as the basis for HDcctv's AT 2.0 standard. For additional elaboration on what the move means to the growing market for higher-resolution CCTV, we approached Todd Rockoff, chairman and executive director of HDcctv Alliance.... SourceSecurity.com: Given that Hikvision, the number one competitor in the video market, is unveiling a different technology (i.e., HDTVI), is there any plan to “converge” the two technologies or make them compatible? What might the HDcctv Alliance’s role be to accomplish that?
TR: We are delighted that Hikvision shares our recognition of the growing importance of plug ‘n’ play (PnP) analog HD surveillance equipment....
SourceSecurity.com: Might not a proprietary non-standard technology from the market’s largest player undermine the positive impact of the standard? (i.e., set up a Beta vs. VHS type competition?)
TR: Absolutely! It compares to having to stock inventory in multiple formats (Beta/VHS or DVD/Blu-Ray/3D Blu-Ray) which inevitably multiplies the costs of running a video shop. And format confusion decreases revenues. A good example is a customer who accidentally brings a 3D Blu-Ray disc home but can't watch it on his DVD player.
Format confusion inevitably has the same kind of impact on the video surveillance market. Therefore, it is in the commercial interest of every company who has invested in HD surveillance equipment to fully support the open, global PnP standards for local-site transport of HD surveillance signals.... ...Full Story
The Connected Car, Part 3: No Shortcuts to Security Jack M. Germain TechNewsWorld August 21, 2014 - The connected car is becoming a reality, but the gadget-filled roadways it travels will be paved with several options for in-car technologies. These choices pose challenges for carmakers. Whichever technology wins the race, one of the biggest concerns for OEMs is their electronic security.
The Linux Foundation wants an open source platform in the pole position. The nonprofit consortium already has a fully functional Linux distribution, called "Automotive Grade Linux," or AGL. It is a customizable, open source automotive software stack with Linux at its core.
Google has its own plan for connecting cars to mobile devices and the Internet. Google's Android Auto is a dashboard navigation and entertainment system powered by an Android smartphone. It is very similar in concept to competing designs from Apple and Microsoft....To handle this traffic jam of data, car manufacturers are testing technologies like Broadcom's Automotive Ethernet and The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC)'s MirrorLink among others. Similarly, QNX Software Systems has a foot or two in some vehicles with its QNX Car Platform for Infotainment.... ...Full Story