o-Metric - Standards for Standards

Scoring Standards for Value and Openness

Open standards are increasingly demanded by producers, vendors, public agencies, and users. However, there is no consensus on the definition of “open standard,” although many variations have been proposed. The controversial adoption of OOXML as an international standard raises new questions about what “open” means – or should mean.

Standards organizations have traditionally defined openness in terms of their own processes. However, IT standards play a strategic role in the development of new markets and may continue to evolve as technology advances. Terms of availability, control, and adaptability are often more important than how the standard was originally developed. For open source developers, royalty-free licensing is essential.

What are the prospects for continued affordability, choice, and effective competition? What advantages do standards give to competitors? What is the potential exposure to patent claims? Users want multiple implementations, validation, and conformance testing. Should these be considered aspects of openness?

The project will produce a set of criteria for scoring openness as well as a checklist for companies deciding whether to support a process or adopt a standard. Initial scoring criteria will be developed by a working group and then released for comment and review. These criteria could be weighted and adapted for particular purposes, contexts, and user needs.

By transcending debate about a single definition of open standard, the project will promote informed discussion about the value of standards in a way that encourages users to participate. By working with multiple dimensions of openness, the project will deepen appreciation for the role of standards in the enterprise, services, competition, and innovation. It will provide a framework to better address policy issues in procurement, patent reform, and standards development and implementation. And it will help create a broader, more informed constituency for standards policy at an international level.