November 05, 2007

A good reminder that standards made by committees tend to be doomed.

Why?

Well, first the committee can have conflicting agendas and be trying to push the standard in inconsistent directions (eg. both small and comprehensive)

Second, the committee is going to tend to be meeting and discussing away from the individual participant's urgent day-to-day requirements. A company will keep its real requirements private and try to solve them internally, rather than sharing them with (potential) rivals on the committee. So the committee will be working with inadequate information about the real application of the standard.

Third, some people will be attracted to committees because they are abstraction astronauts who like considering things at the very generic level but may not have a good grasp of detailed requirements.

Fourth, committee members may believe they should look to the future and can ignore short-term failings of their standard because "obviously" in a few years potential users won't need to be backwardly compatible with today's kludges or will have got the message that there is a better way to do things.

Fifth, some organizations will be on the committee not because they have a real requirement from the standard but because they feel the need to be seen there or to be part of the standard-setting or to try to find out what other people are up to, or even to sabotage the standard.
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