A few people have been asking about why don’t the different standards groups work more closely with each other. The joke goes “the good thing about standards it there are so many to choose from”. Seriously, it becomes increasingly harder for customers to have to choose from a variety of what may look like similar but different standards.


A lot of standards groups, maybe most, today face some fairly hard (tight) financing and or a flattening of new membership, leaving the permanent standards organization staff hurting; sometimes having to do layoffs. To help sustain the standards orgs growth, some groups will aggressively go out and seek to expand the working boundaries of their traditional standards domain. Invariably though this growth leads the orgs into new areas of work which are covered by someone else; and duplication of standards efforts suddenly exists, not that being there first is any legal claim to owning the domain.


A while back I contributed a white paper to the UN, hoping they (the UN) would get the hint and get some more formal awareness and process in place to better work with (and legally protect the work with) other standards organizations. Part of that contribution had to do with “referencing” (or building upon) other’s standards work; so we can be comfortable that new standards are Open without any legal “gotcha’s” as sometimes has happened in the past.


The big concern I’ve seen with standards orgs is there is a lot of great ‘good will’ at the working group level to ‘work with others’ but far too often there’s almost a naïve realization that forming a working alliance with another standards org needs some solid prep work to protect the common work you both do. After all, the standards groups are all about generating IP!


I’ve reproduced (the long) paper below in 4 parts, and I hope you enjoy it. Actually I’ve heard that a number of different standards groups (including the UN) have asked for the paper (like WS-I) and taken it in as a bit of a base line reference upon which to consider how they can better organize their working relationships with other standards groups.


All I can do is hope more people in the Standards Org communities read the material and in future takes the extra efforts to do a GOHIO. (Gets Our House In Order) so the work you and others ‘contribute’ to making better open standards is well protected; and stays open.