RICO! There was a interesting rant about standards yesterday on the De-centralization mailing list. Someone was suggesting (only partly in jest) that there really ought to be a RICO racketeering suit brought against the major standards bodies. I think there's a white paper or thesis to be written here on the life cycle of standards and standards bodies. Maybe something like The Hype Curve or The Chasm.

It's been fascinating watching and contrasting the developments of XML-RPC, SOAP/WSDL/UDDI, RSS, ICE/NITF, Jabber, Gnutella, Rosettanet and a few others over the last couple of years. There's a lot of similarities here with the life cycle of online communities. Although that's something of a truism as an active community is a pretty basic requirement for success in a standard. But we still haven't really worked out how to kick start a community to order. And similarly there doesn't seem to be a clear roadmap on what it takes to kick start a standard to order.

There's another couple of truisms here that "standards are useless without implementations" and so "There are only de-facto standards". Everything else is just academic (mutual) mind games. Way too many of the standards that Todd was ranting against have no reference implementations or code, let alone an active community of developers pushing implementations forward and in the process validating the standard.

I'm still amazed by the clarity, precision and elegance of the early RFCs. They feel like polished and cut diamonds that have had everything extraneous stripped away. Just enough to get the job done and *no more*. I think we could do worse than go back and review the RFC process and style and apply it to the current efforts.

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[ 22-Feb-02 11:49am ]