[whatwg] The truth about Nokias claims

Jeff McAdams jeffm at iglou.com
Thu Dec 13 12:53:48 PST 2007

Charles wrote:
>> It's a standard because it has a public spec and because an 
>> organization issues those spec.

> In my experience, an organization (non-profit or not) can't simply
> publish their own specification and claim, "hey, this is a standard".
> That would certainly be easier.

Sure it can.  Its not like there's some magic voodoo that has to happen
in order for someone to be able to write a document up that specifies
how something happens.  (that's obviously a way-oversimplified version
of what a standard is, but you get my drift, here).

A standard setting body is a standard setting body because they claim
they're a standard setting body.  Now, whether a standard specified by
that body carries any weight depends on all sorts of other factors, such
as the reputation, past performance, and overall respect of the standard
setting body.

That's why so many standards are so idiotic.  You get standard setting
bodies like ECMA that pretty much just rubber-stamps something that a
vendor sends them regardless of the encumbrances of the technologies.
(witness the OOXML fiasco as an example of how badly the standard
setting process can be abused)

That's why I really don't put much weight on what organizations have
stamped some arbitrary stamp on a video codec.  I'm much, much more
concerned with whether its freely and openly implementable.

Its also one of the reasons I have such utter disdain for companies that
play this game so badly, they're in effect lying to end-users by saying,
"see, its a standard, that proves we're not out to screw you", when the
reality is that, so frequently, companies engage the standard setting
process as a way to screw the end-user just that much more.

That having been said, I do think the w3c is one of the best in this
area.  The requirement for Royalty-Free licensing of technologies
embodied in the patents gives the w3c a really good ethical leg to stand
on for the standards it sets.

I have no respect for ECMA, and very little for ISO, for setting
standards in the fields of software and networking protocols.  As far as
I can see, both of those organizations have shown that they are
susceptible to being heavily co-opted by large companies to screw
end-users.  ISO is better than ECMA, but that's pretty much damning by
faint praise.

Jeff McAdams
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a
little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
                                       -- Benjamin Franklin

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