In an open letter published today, nineteen standards professionals and activists, founders of the Digital Standards Organization call on standards developers, supporters, and advocates to sign the Hague Declaration on open standards, and join in the building of a new not-for-profit worldwide grass roots organization "to defend and promote open standards".
The letter starts:
Industry has always depended on standards and traditional industries have built their standards as part of a slow, controlled, top-down approach to innovation. Industrial-age standards are often heavily patented, complex, and large. They can be expensive to implement and therefore are implementable only for large established firms.
But almost forty years ago, Steve Crocker and his team wrote RFC001 and launched the networks that built the Internet using a different model based on older human values of sharing and cooperation. His vision, and that of other Internet pioneers, was of a digital world built on simple, interoperable standards, accessible at zero cost to even the smallest teams. Largely, their dream is coming true. Today we're used to an Internet of open software, open content, and open development.
While most agree, not everyone likes it. In the telecoms, entertainment, and software industries we see the destruction of legacy vendors and their replacement by new Internet communities. And many of the old industrial businesses, instead of adapting, are fighting back. The fight is intensifying because the stakes are growing. Free and open source software, open content, and open communities are together worth trillions of dollars. The key to controlling these rich ecosystems is to control the digital standards they depend on.