Presentation: "Standards are Great, but Standardisation is a Really Bad Idea"

Time: Friday 15:30 - 16:30

Location: Abbey Room


Standards arise from consensus between competitors signaling maturity in a marketplace. A good standard can ensure interoperability and assist portability, allowing the switching of suppliers. A widely adopted standard can create new markets, and impose useful constraints which in turn foster good design and innovation. Standards are great, and as the old joke goes, that's why we have so many of them!

If standards represent peace, then formal standardisation can be war! Dark, political, expensive and exclusive games played out between large vendors often behind closed doors. There are better ways to forge consensus and build agreements and the notion of a committee taking often a number of years to writing a specification, especially in the absence of implementation experience appears archaic in today's world of Agile methods, test driven development, open source, Wikis and other Web base collaborations.

This talk will draw upon Paul's personal experiences forged in the wonderful world of XML and Web service standardisation, examine the risks of premature standardisation, unnatural constraints, partial implementations and open extensions, puzzle how to avoid cloud computing lock-in, and contrast formal activities with lightweight open processes as exemplified by open source, Microformats, OpenID, OAuth and other Web conventions being ratified through open, lightweight, continuous agreement.

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Paul Downey, Osmosoft

 Paul  Downey Paul is a member of Osmosoft [], a team of Open Source innovators at BT, where he acts as an advocate of Web Architecture as well as contributing to the TiddlyWiki project. Previously, Paul was BT's Chief Web Services Architect, Chaired the W3C XML Schema Patterns for Databinding Working Group as well as representing BT at various organisations including OASIS and the WS-I. He has also garnered minor notoriety as the artist behind "The Web is Agreement" [], a series of ├╝ber-doodles.