Sunday, September 20, 2009

How to collaboratively work on standards

For NEN, the standards organisation in the Netherlands, Wikipedia is considered as a model where a community is engaged. NEN invited me because I had presented at the ISO conference in Milan before.

I presented a few slides about Wikipedia and I added a slide about my view on standards. After this introduction there were two themes.
  • How does Wikipedia work and, how does it finance itself
  • How can the Wiki way be applied to the development of standards
For me it is quite obvious that standards have to be open and available to work. Having people pay to learn what a standard is about, damages the awareness about standards and it damages the objectives of what standards aim to achieve. This argument was appreciated by the people of the NEN, but their problem is that this monetary aspect is an essential part of making their budget.

When you consider developping standards by a community, you change the role of the standards organisation. From a full participant, it changes to the role of a process manager. This means that it guarantees the quality of what is delivered but is not so much involved in the content itself. This change in role, removes the argument why the NEN is not in the business of the certification of the implementation of standards. The argument is that there is a conflict of interest when you both define standards and get paid for assessing these same standards.

When a standards organisation is involved in standard development as a process manager and one who validates and certificates the implementation of standards, there is no longer such a conflict of interest.

The question then becomes what standards would a community wants to develop. I am sure that there are plenty of domains where the expertise of developing standards would be welcomed because standards make things measurable, more concrete.

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