Throughout most of history, business behavior, like other behavior, was affected by social standards. What happens when business consolidates and quarterly profits are all that matter?
Primitive societies knew enough to brand the unthinkable as unthinkable, to ensure that the unthinkable never happened. We do just the opposite. What right do we have to feel surprised about Red Lake?
How might an open standards process to recreate the world after the (next) deluge work out?
Standards can constrain or enable innovation. Sometimes the balance comes out just right – as when Laurens Hammond reinvented the pipe organ and Don Leslie conceived the perfect speakers to give it voice. The result was the Hammond B-3 Organ. You may never have heard of it, but you’ve certainly heard it.
Our affinity for creating standards perhaps arises from humanity’s perpetual desire to make a dangerous and uncertain world secure, orderly and reassuring. But the more orderly it becomes, the easier it is to forget how vulnerable we remain.
When is something really a standard, and not merely a convention — and how can you tell the difference?
It is said that Albert Einstein once reflected that the Universe is a queerer place than you can imagine. He needn’t have looked beyond earth to throw up his hands.
Not long ago, Japan launched an effort to create an international food standard based on traditionally brewed soy sauce. Great was the hue and cry in Japan when American industry tried to qualify a cheap substitute under the same standard. Almost as great as it was in Korea, when Japan tried to hijack the standard for traditional Korean kimchi.
What do diets, mutual funds, and DVD standard wars have in common? More than you’d think.
We’re used to thinking about standards that specify all manner of measurable attributes – size, wavelength, voltage, and so on. But what happens when a standard must take time into account, especially when it’s a whole lot of time?