Early standardization not so bad

On Monday, I gave a lightning talk at a W3C meeting, and it's reproduced here. Check out the accompanying slides.

(slide2) Yesterday, we heard about how we should first innovate, get adoption, then standardize. For some technologies we seem to have a switch there (slide 3) - we innovate, then we push for standardization and expect adoption to follow. (slide 4) I'm up here to say that this need not be as crazy as it might seem at first.

(slide 5) A showcase for standardization are the train tracks. (slide 6) Developed from a common idea but with different rail gauges (slide 7) in different places because why should you even ask anyone who's 1000 miles away from you?

(slides 8-11) The network grows and in a few years you bump into a neighbor who happens to have a different gauge. (slide 12) You can make people change trains, (slide 13) or you can even build double gauge railways, but that's limited, you can't go everywhere so (slide 14) ultimately you'll decide to standardize. It's expensive and painful, but in the end better.

(slide 15) That's innovation, adoption, standardization.

(slide 16) But in internet time and world? You innovate, create tracks. A guy across the world does as well. (slide 17) Space doesn't matter, you're as good as neighbors. And your customers will want to run their trains on your tracks, and the other guy's tracks. In fact, they won't give you business (adoption) if you don't have the same gauge as the competition.

(slide 18) Looks like you need to standardize before you can hope for growth and adoption. (slide 19) But in internet time and world, rebuilding your product for a different standard (slide 20) is not as expensive and painful as changing hundreds of miles of steel bolted to wood.

(slide 21) Early standardization results in buggy, suboptimal standards, but since change is not so expensive any more, (slide 22) we can evolve and re-standardize.

(slide 23) Maybe this formula isn't so bad, if we enhance it a bit? (slide 24)

Posted at 1936 on Wed, May 24, 2006 in category Ideas | TrackBack