There’s something neo-colonialistic about standards. After all, in my last blog post, I talked about how Qin Shi Huang who first unified several ‘kingdoms’ in China to form the first proper large dynasty in China actually used standards to help him rule. And from an economic perspective, standards can have some kind of effect of creating some cartel or monopolistic effect but we can agree that the social benefit outweighs the social costs so proper state intervention or some kind of non-profit structure on these standards association or organisations would help.
The attractiveness of being able to develop standards which other people have to eventually follow is that there are ways to monetise that. It’s like how Champagne can only come from Champagne in France – it naturally creates some kind of monopoly. Whenever we standardise, we exclude because we have made a decision to observe a threshold of acceptance. But the key here is to consider who this standard seeks to serve. As long as the standard serves the public and fosters more innovation, allows people to build things upon it and move forward, without too much cost to society, that is fine.
But mechanisms have to be set or laid down for us to question a standard; because once a standard is entrenched, it is hard to convince the system to change it. Which means if there’s no proper system in place to change it when it becomes somewhat obsolete, it may continue to perpetuate. Finding a way for standards to evolve will allow us, as a society to be able to grow and learn to be able to move forward on the right (new) things.
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