Friday, April 09, 2010

Testing Time for Standards - Repost

Originally posted 7/11/07. BISG has a new director and one of the first open meetings under his direction addressed the ISTC standard and this may be an indication of a new found impetus in addressing standards development. This post addresses the importance of understanding how speed to market doesn't just apply to products but should also be introduced to standards development:

Is it time to revise the manner in which the publishing industry establishes standards for the industry? The pace at which the industry is moving suggests that the model of serial committee meetings staffed by over worked volunteers may no longer be an optimal solution.

Into a vacuum does a 'standard' establish itself and I believe the RFID situation in the library community is just one example. In the absence of a universal approach to RFID tagging in the publishing and library community we now have several vendor specific 'standards' that mitigate some or all of the benefits of the technology itself. Time to deliberate and debate ad nausea is a luxury we can't afford when digital content and transaction models are changing rapidly so I was interested to see the following comment from BISG regarding digital content:
The committee will work to find solutions that will benefit the entire book industry – publishers, retailers, search engines, authors, wholesalers and distributors – by improving the process by which online book content reaches consumers. To expedite standards development at a time when the book industry is moving rapidly forward, the Committee will start its work using a briefing paper, requirements, and draft specification that were developed within the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to serve as frameworks for further work.
It will be interesting to see how this develops; however, just making the old system work faster may not be enough. An alternative approach could be to establish a forward thinking (anticipatory) approach to new standards development. Importantly, a small 'reconnaissance' team that sits permanently could identify new standards needs and establish a minimalist framework for these new standards. This framework could include the identification of less than 10 data elements and with definitions that would immediately enable standardization at a very basic level. This group would generate standards projects based on submissions from the community as well as from their own initiatives.

Once the framework was completed the new born standard would be published and passed on to the committee best suited to expand on it and extend its relevance. In some cases, the standard could remain dormant and/or industry participants could submit their own amendments and additions to the standard rather than wait for the committee to define new data elements and requirements.

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