Information Technology Standards and Standardisation: A Global Perspective. Kai Jakobs, (Ed.), 1999

"Standards are not only technical questions. They determine the technology that will implement the Information Society, and consequently the way in which industry, users, consumers and administra-tions will benefit from it." Starting with this quotation from the Commission of the European Unions 'Standardisation and the Global Information Society' the book addresses aspects of standardisation from consensus versus speed and intellectual property rights to corporate issues and economics. Four cases studies provide specific insight into the problems of standardisation processes.

The overall message of the book is: despite all criticism, and despite statements such as 'hampering progress' or 'trailing behind the market,' standards remain the sine-qua-non in virtually all fields of technology, and especially in information and communication technology. All 15 contributions are very well written and mostly provide a long list of references for further information. The authors pro-pose frameworks for standardisation, discuss the differences between ISO and W3C organisation and processes and even present the concepts of a standards based common operational environment for NATO.

Two papers discuss the subject of intellectual property rights identifying the different issues as they exist during the three major phases in the life cycle of a standard. In standard development the issues relate to the intellectual property codified in the standard. As the standard is distributed, the issues relate to the copyright of the document and in its implementation, there are again issues pertaining to the intellectual property in the standard. The IPR issues are highlighted by the second paper which describes in detail the conflict between innovation and standardisation using the case of the GSM standard issued by ETSI.

The potential role and benefits of ICT standards in corporate strategies are highlighted as well as their specific needs for business components. The author argues that business applications software like e.g. SAP R/3, BAAN IV, or Oracle applications are too expensive and cumbersome especially for SMEs and smaller but standardised business components are needed. Basic approaches for standards of busi-ness components like COM, JavaBeans and others are discussed.

The case studies discuss issues in rather different application domains like standardising payment in-struments in the Netherlands, deployment of cellular telephone service on three continents, European computer driving licence (ECDL) and the social network base of the standard making processes dem-onstrated by an example from the northern European countries.

This book provides a foundation for research, discussion and practice in standardisation for professionals as well as for users.

Source: Idea Group Publishing, ISBN 1-878289-70-5, contact: or

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