Open Standards & Open Source: Not the Same, But On the Same Team

Posted on March 25th, 2015

An ongoing dialog surrounding open source development practices has started which is integral to a broader discussion connected to open standards.

Image: Shutterstock, kentoh

The OpenStand Principles embrace openness, transparency, cooperation, and voluntary adoption in a manner that is very compatible with the open source community. As a key player in this community, the Linux Foundation’s missions states that “open collaboration powers everything.” This has initiated an ongoing dialog surrounding open source development practices that is integral to a broader discussion connected to open standards.

Glyn Moody of Computerworld’s Open Enterprise blog spoke with the Linux Foundation’s Executive Director, Jim Zemlin on this very topic. The ecosystem of the Linux Foundation, embraces collaborative innovation, which includes standards development. However, in this interview Zemlin asserts that open source is overwriting the need for open standards.  According to Zemlin:

“The largest form of collaboration in the tech industry for 20 years was at standards development organisations – IEEE, ISO, W3C, these things – where in order for companies to interoperate, which was a requirement in tech, they would create a specification, and everyone would implement that. The tech sector is moving on to a world where, in the Internet of things [for example], do you want to have a 500-page specification that you hand to a light bulb manufacturer, or do you want source code that you can hand to that manufacturer that enables interoperability? I think that’s a permanent fixture. People have figured out for a particular non-differentiating infrastructure, they want to work on that through open source, rather than creating a spec.

This is a major shift in the way that the technology world operates. Instead of trying to pin down in a specification how a new set of common standards will operate, leaving each company to implement those specifications as they see fit – perhaps with variable compatibility among them – we are moving to a world where the new standard is represented by open source code that both defines that standard, and does 99% of the work of implementing it.”

If he’s right, Zemlin’s statement either represents a major shift in the way that the technology world operates, or a re-definition of what standards of the future will become — or both.  We suspect this is only the beginning of the dialog.  How should open standards players embrace and accommodate open source development?  As Moody points out, is there a way for open source and open standards to work together instead of potentially working in conflict with each other?   If so, what should this look like?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Executive Believes Smart Homes Need Open Standards

Posted on March 18th, 2015

Video: Gigaom

The Lowe’s store around the corner may seem like an unlikely influencer of open standards, but Kevin Meagher, the VP and GM of Lowes’ Smart Home Division, was brushing elbows with IoT technologists at Gigaom’s Structure Connect Conference last fall, speaking on a panel with Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder of The Grommet, and Kif Leswing of Gigaom. The discussion underscores the need for OpenStand’s principles of openness, availability, and voluntary adoption in the world of smart home devices.

As the IoT begins to expand, retailers like Lowe’s have become key players in the sales of smart home devices. This gives brick and mortar retailers with relationships to smart home vendors an interest in participating and influencing the standards that govern these devices. With an eye on device use, data sharing and interoperability, retailers like Lowe’s have new skin in this game. According to Meagher, the smart home market can only grow if devices can interact, stating, “We believe fiercely in open standards. Everyone needs to open up their APIs.”

Meagher admitted that while Lowe’s may not be a trusted technology brand, they are a trusted consumer retailer. Customers come to Lowe’s to solve precisely the same problems the IoT seeks to resolve.  “Customers don’t care as much about how a device does what it does, as they do about the value proposition,” Meagher said. An individual customer may not be able to articulate it, but they are looking for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication where smart home devices are able to communicate with each other without human interference. They want a seamless experience across devices. Open standards are necessary in order to facilitate this. OpenStand covered this in previous blog post.

We’ve embedded the panel discussion above for your convenience. While the session raises important privacy and data sharing questions related to open API and third-party access to data produced by smart home devices, we applaud the energy and intentionality that Lowe’s and other smart home thought leaders are putting into open standards.

What are your thoughts on the need for open standards in the sphere of smart home devices? We’d love to hear them in the comments below! To join us an advocate for the five core principles for open standards development, please sign your name to show your support.

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Is “Ubernet” Threatening the Internet and Open Standards?

Posted on March 11th, 2015

Is the future of the internet a “walled garden” scenario? It isn’t infeasible. While the “Ubernet” may be a possible outcome of the future, it doesn't have to be our destiny.
Photo: Shutterstock, Sergey Nivens

The Internet Society (ISOC), a leading global standards development organization and an OpenStand affirming partner, recently responded to an article from The Economist which predicted a future internet that looks more like a series of sealed-off app stores, separated by walls of proprietary security. According to ISOC, while this “walled garden” scenario isn’t infeasible, it doesn’t have to be our destiny.

Karen Rose, the Senior Director in the office of Strategy and Research at ISOC, writes that she and her team identified this very scenario in some planning exercises around the health and future of the Internet a few years ago when they wanted to find some answers to two key questions: “Will the world embrace or resist the open Internet model?” and “What model will be more successful? Command and control? Or, distributed and decentralized?”

This planning exercise identified four possible scenarios for the future of the Internet:

  1. Moats and Drawbridges: A heavily centralized internet dominated by a few big players.
  2. Boutique Networks: A separated internet with self-interested factions collaborating to control small sectors.
  3. Porous Garden: Networks would remain global, but access to content and services would be tightly controlled.
  4. Common Pool: An uninhibited, open internet.

These potential scenarios were defined over five years ago and it’s clear how each scenario could have become reality, and in some areas of the world, have become a present reality. Developments and innovations over the past five-plus years across the technical, economic, and political landscape have sometimes challenged the open Internet, but, as Rose writes, “over the years…the most constant characteristic of the Internet has been the pace of change.”

This fast pace of change and growth has been facilitated by a set of principles now known as the OpenStand Principles.  According to Rose:

…The Internet Society believes that there are key properties that need to be preserved as part of its ongoing evolution (including openness, interoperability, open standards, and its multi-stakeholder model of development) which will enable the Internet to continue to serve as a platform for seemingly limitless innovation.

While the “Ubernet” may be a possible outcome of the future, that doesn’t indicate it’s likely.

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ZDNet on Standards for the Internet of Things

Posted on March 4th, 2015

Joe McKendrick recently zeroed in on the key question right now for the Internet of Things: will standards evolve to make it all work? Or will we finally get everyone on the same page?
Photo: Shutterstock, Sergey Nivens

Joe McKendrick recently zeroed in on a key question in this ZDNet article  and it’s possibly the key question right now for the Internet of Things:

“…with all these vendors jumping into what looks like a lucrative space, will standards evolve to make it all work? Or will we finally get everyone on the same page, as we did with the Internet of Words and Pictures?”

McKendrick isn’t the only one asking this question. OpenStand highlighted some similar questions from Pravin Kulange on the blog just a few months ago. McKendrick highlights several standards setters currently working to answer the above question. While it’s hard to tell what will transpire, it is likely that some of these projects may move forward with closed, proprietary solutions while others remain more open, and closely aligned to the OpenStand principles.

The first project McKendrick highlights is AllJoyn, a software framework made to help smart devices talk to each other which is a collaborative open source project of the AllSeen Alliance, which includes Cisco, Microsoft, LG, and HTC. Neagle believes that the AllJoyn protocol would enable “manufacturers to create their own custom apps for onboarding devices onto a Wi-Fi network, complete with control and notification services.”

Another project to take note of is Google’s The Physical Web, which is still an experimental effort that wants people to be able to interact with smart objects without having to download an app first.

The Industrial Internet Consortium is a recently formed project which aims “to accelerate the development and availability of intelligent industrial automation for the public good.” The IIC was founded by Intel, Cisco, AT&T, GE, and IBM. Microsoft is also a member.

The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), from Intel and joined by Atmel, Dell, Broadcom, Samsung, and Wind River, is a project which focuses on “defining a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among personal computing and emerging IoT devices, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider.”

Thread, a new IP-based wireless networking protocol, is a collaborative effort between Google’s Nest, and Samsung Electronics, ARM Holdings, Freescale Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, Big Ass Fans, and Yale Locks & Hardware.

According to David Jacoby of Kaspersky Labs, all of this activity around development appears to be “a land-grab in standards development, with multiple groups each hoping to set de facto standards.” At this point, standards are without question, an important piece of the IoT puzzle and the field is crowded with people working to build the “winning” standards.

What do you think about the current field of open standards developers? What standards would you like to see come out of this competitive space? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Open Development Camp 2014 Brings Together Passionate Open Internet Standards Supporters

Posted on February 25th, 2015

The 4th Open Development Camp was held October, 2014 at De Balie in Amsterdam in order to bring together a broader movement around open development, justice, and digital rights.
Source: Shutterstock, Maxim Blinkov

Organized this year by Open for Change and DE CONNECTORS, the 4th Open Development Camp was held October, 2014 at De Balie in Amsterdam. ODC 2014 built on the success of the Open Data for Development Camps in 2011 (Amsterdam) and 2012 (Nairobi & Amsterdam), and Open Development Camp 2013 (Amsterdam).

The Camp and it’s sessions were focused on bringing together a broader movement around open development, justice, and digital rights. With an impressive list of partners, sponsors, and speakers, ODC 2014 represented it’s goals of developing awareness and empowering action. It addressed issues ranging from how to empower local communities, the dark side of open development, the anchoring principles of open development, and how open technology shapes us and is shaped by us.

ODC 2014 consisted of more than just a handful of keynote speeches. It focused on interaction and collaborative events, workshops, and hands-on sessions to promote connection and learning among the attending CEOs, NGOs, analysts, journalists, activists, developers, designers, and other participants, as well as from the main presenters. These presenters included Stef van Grieken of Google.org, Tim Unwin of UNESCO, Chris Taggart of Open Corporates, and many others. Some recorded sessions of ODC 2014 are available via their Vimeo channel.

Here at OpenStand, we’ll be keeping an eye out for ODC 2015 and other events that bring together open data champions and creators from around the world. If you have an event, session or conference that you’d like to highlight, please let us know in the comments!

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Open Data for Groups, Governments, and Communities Around the World, Brought to You by Open Standards

Posted on February 18th, 2015

Open data initiatives are popping up everywhere, putting “smart cities” within reach. As groups, governments and communities around the world innovate and the expand their collaborative potential, open data is quickly becoming an advantage as well as a concern.

Photo: Flickr, justgrimes

As groups, governments and communities around the world innovate and expand their collaborative potential, open data is quickly becoming an advantage as well as a concern. Denise McKenzie, executive director of the Communications and Outreach Program for the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and Ron Exler, a senior consultant with the OGC, addressed this issue recently in a Government Technology article.

Open data initiatives are popping up everywhere, putting “smart cities” within reach. It seems everyone wants to be the first in line, from San Francisco to New York and beyond. However, as it may be expected, policies and governance hurdles are popping up just as fast.

There are two main concerns here, and they may be familiar. The first is protecting potentially sensitive data. The second centers on how to maintain efficiency through the sharing of platforms and reuse of data, which reduces development time and costs and increases overall investment value.

Open data creates more opportunities for innovation and creative problem-solving. One group McKenzie and Exler point to as an example of this are the Civic Ninjas, who are leveraging open data to create and support solutions for governments and citizens. This kind of work is made possible by open data, and plausible through open standards, and mirror the principles upon which OpenStand was founded.

Just as the Web’s value derives from an open standards-based publish/discover/use philosophy, unlocking the value of government data depends on open standards. These include standard schemes for naming things and describing relationships (data models) and standard ways of describing data sets (metadata), as well as standard software interfaces and data encodings that make data publishable, discoverable and immediately usable.

Open standards will play a critical role in making open data sharing secure, private, effective, useable, and accessible. McKenzie and Exler encourage decision-makers to make a conscious play for openness: “the art of procurement lies in avoiding deep and long-lasting commitments to closed systems,” they write, “instead cultivating open solutions that help move both users and providers in the direction of openness.”

 

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Open Standards for Cards are the Next Frontier

Posted on February 11th, 2015

Since the release of iOS 8 and Android KitKat, a new mobile design paradigm has quickly emerged.  The development trend of using “Cards” is changing the mobile experience, and a common design language is necessary.

Source: Shutterstock, Epitavi

Since iOS 8 and Android KitKat were released, a new mobile design paradigm has quickly emerged. Paul Adams, the VP of Product over at Inside Intercom, provided a detailed explanation of the development trend of using “Cards” here, but here’s a quick summary of what cards are doing for mobile experience:

[Mobile] Notifications used to be “signposts” that would point a user to another place.  For example, a mobile notification that would tell a user to open up an app, like a calendar or Pinterest.  However, this is changing fast.

Today, instead of opening an app to do something, a user can take action directly within Android notifications. Sometimes, a notification may send a user to an application to execute an action.  At other times, a user may be able to execute an action directly through the notification itself, without opening an app at all.

Says Adams, “We’ve moved pretty quickly from notifications as signposts, containers (cards) that include content and actions on that content.”

Cards represent an evolution of the stream of “short content notifications layer” that defined early social media and RSS technology, and now they are popping up more widely in social networks and SaaS adoption. As development continues, Adams says product experiences developed using cards are growing fuller and more detailed.

In a recent TechCrunch article, Nora Spivak, co-founder and CEO of Bottlenose, characterized cards as being far more important than previously thought: “Cards are modular, bite-sized content containers designed for easy consumption and interaction on small screens, but they are also a new metaphor for user-interaction that is spreading across all manner of other apps and content.”

As long as there are no cohesive standards for cards, they will remain app-bound and proprietary, as they are now. Spivak points out that, “This non-interoperability is a pain point that will create the need and opportunity for an open standard for cards to emerge.” Twitter, with Fabric, and Google Android are the frontrunners in card format innovation, but Facebook’s Open Graph Stories, Apple, and Microsoft aren’t far behind.

As the competition over winning card format acceptance heats up, it’s going to become increasingly important to have common design language for cards just as it was eventually required for email, calendars, documents, audio files, etc. It is not sustainable to support multiple formats, and as we’ve seen before, once it gets painful enough, a standard becomes necessary.

The need for an open standard for cards is prevalent, and as Spivak points out, require similar qualities to those embodied within the OpenStand Principles.

Interoperability: “Cards will be the glue — a kind of data middleware — that will connect and integrate many different kinds of previously incompatible and disconnected apps.”

Content Distribution and Marketing: “Brand marketers will be able to use social media dashboards like Hootsuite to compose cards that work consistently across multiple outlets (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other apps). Marketers might even be able to distribute cards directly to consumers who opt in to receive them via their intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs).”

Search, personalization, and Recommendations: “Semantic metadata attached to cards, perhaps from Schema.org and Open Graph, or maybe even using the standards of the W3C Semantic Web, will enable apps to be really smart about understanding, filtering, targeting, displaying, sorting and suggesting cards to users.”

The complications resulting from any one company trying to control a new medium that is being widely used in a competitive field has been shown time and again. Spivak points out that whatever company advocates first for open standards for cards might actually gain an edge. In addition, they may gain goodwill in the industry.

If you would like to advocate for open standards in cards or in any other internet sphere, we encourage you to Stand With Us and leave a comment below. You can also add a badge to your site to show your support for OpenStand. 

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Shaping a Common Future: Kin Lane on Open API Development

Posted on February 4th, 2015

API Report author and API all-purpose evangelist Kin Lane worked with Steven Wilmott to launch The API Commons in November of 2013, a site where API authors are enabled to clearly share reproducible code.
Source: Shutterstock

API Report author and API all-purpose evangelist Kin Lane worked with Steven Wilmott to launch the API Commons in November of 2013, a site dedicated to the purpose of providing “a simple and transparent mechanism for the copyright free sharing and collaborative design of API specifications, interfaces and data models.” On the site, API authors are enabled to clearly share reproducible code, and other developers can then adopt, reuse, and collaborate to build on existing functionality. This represents values that the OpenStand community embraces, particularly Collective Empowerment, which values open standards that serve as building blocks for iterative development and innovation.

In this interview with InfoQ, Lane spoke with Jeremy Louvel about the positive response to the launch, and the overall importance of open source API design. Lane said he and Steven Wilmott were led to launch the Commons because they felt “strongly that API designs should remain openly licensed, allowing for re-use of the best API patterns available today. People tend to emulate what they see, and without common patterns, providers tend to reinvent the wheel each time. In 2014, you should have common patterns for calendars, directories, images, videos and other resources we depend on every day for personal and business apps.”

As we know, rights and ownership problems abound in this creative space. Louvel referenced the ongoing battle over Java APIs in Android between Google and Oracle. In response, Lane pointed to Java as an example of the “industry and community that can rise up around a meaningful interface,” pointing out that API reuse was fundamental in the growth of two of the major movements on the Internet in the last decade: social & cloud. Both of these areas have transformed how we live and conduct business in 2015.

API reuse, like open standards, may play a critical role in the development of future transformative technology. Lane and Wilmott’s approach in API Commons is to make the transparency of API standards and licenses as crystal-clear as possible, and to drive forward the “positive elements of what we have learned on the open internet, from open source software, and from developing distributed, social applications that scale via cloud computing.

The most important thing now, according to Lane, is to tell stories: “Craft stories around APIs, their design, deployment, and impact they make–stories that matter to end-users.” Open API needs to resonate with the people who end up using the products that derive from its development, and the value needs to be connected, through stories, to the users.

Open API Commons embraces very similar principles of cooperation, openness, and empowerment to the OpenStand Principles, which are extensible far outside of standards development. When asked by OpenStand editorial staff, Lane says:

“We have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to securing the web, mobile, and device based applications, that are becoming ubiquitous across our personal and business worlds.  To move us forward, businesses must become more open and transparent, working together to define open standards that support the interfaces we are increasingly depending on.  Restricting the usage of common API patterns, moves us backwards, not forward in this fight, suffocating innovation and creating security risks. The OpenStand principles apply to the model we’re using at API Commons, by encouraging and supporting cooperation, adherence to the principles of openness, transparency, balance and consensus, collective empowerment, availability and voluntary adoption.”

Check out the five OpenStand Principles here, or sign your name to Stand With Us for open internet standards and an open future.

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OpenStand Celebrates Data Privacy Day

Posted on January 28th, 2015

In honor of promoting good technology stewardship and personal data security, the OpenStand community is celebrating Data Privacy Day on January 28, 2015.
Image: http://bit.ly/1yNyWqi

The OpenStand Paradigm embraces standards that support interoperability and are developed through an open participatory process. The process by which these standards are produced and the output–open standards–are essential for systems and data to be interoperable and for digital innovation. As big data and open data intersect, and we realize the benefits and value of open data, data privacy must be part of the conversation.

In honor of promoting good technology stewardship and personal data security, the OpenStand community is celebrating Data Privacy Day today! Data Privacy Day creates and promotes global awareness about privacy and data protection issues. It highlights actions that corporations, governments, nonprofits, educators and individuals can take to protect the privacy of personal information. It also encourages businesses and data services to be good stewards of the information placed in their hands and on their servers. Join us as we take a stand for the data privacy protocols necessary that support digital innovation and global interoperability, and provide data privacy protection.

To stay up to date with the initiative, follow @DataPrivacyDay on Twitter and use the hashtag #DPD15 to support Data Privacy awareness.

As a path to international recognition and acceptance of standards, these principles are important elements to technology innovation, the fostering of local and global economic growth and development in general.

 

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Open Standards: The Building Blocks for the IoT

Posted on January 21st, 2015

The Internet of Things represents an opportunity for humanity to make better choices based on interconnections that improve the quality of our lives and society as a whole. In order for this opportunity to come to fruition, there are five critical requirements that must come to fruition.
Image: Shutterstock, Anna Bardocz

Oleg Logvinov, Director of Market Development at STMicroelectronics and current Chair of the IEEE P2413 Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things Working Group, contributed this article to Electronic Design Magazine.

In reference to the IoT, Logvinov says, “At it’s heart, it is the disruptive convergence of technology, telecommunications, data, and people. It is the humanization of technology, the melding of disparate elements and systems into a unified platform, allowing us to connect more deeply with one another and the world around us.”

He argues that the IoT represents an opportunity for humanity to “make better choices based on these interconnections, improving the quality of not only our own lives, but society as a whole.”

In the article, Logvinov outlines five critical requirements for the success of IoT technology and devices, as summarized below:

  1. Smarter power consumption. The devices that fuel the IoT will require power. By Cisco Systems’ estimate, there will be 50 billion IoT-connected devices by 2020. How will all of these devices be powered? Logvinov comments that, “Even if those 50 billion things consumed only 10 mW each, that still adds up to needing more than 500 MW just to power the IoT of tomorrow.”
  2. Improved storage and management of data. The sheer data management needs of the IoT will be mind blowing, given the magnitude of devices used and the data received and calculated. As Logvinov notes with regards to power consumption, “With such a staggering demand for power, every possible measure must be taken to minimize consumption and maximize energy efficiency.” The same is true for the storage and management of the data that the IoT will create. MCU’s, discussed below under item four, will play a critical role in this.
  3. Safeguards for privacy and security. Evans Data Corp’s research shows that over 17% of the world’s software developers have turned their attention to the IoT, and another 23% are expected to follow within six months. The exponential proliferation of networked devices create exponentially prolific opportunities for security risk. As the IoT grows, the need for scalable identity management, privacy and security frameworks that can keep up with the rapid pace of development is desperately needed.
  4. High Performance Microcontrollers (MCU’s). According to Logvinov, if sensors and actuators can be likened to the nervous system for the IoT, MCUs are the brains behind it. Sensors are a small component with a large role to play in detecting, gathering and measuring data based on inputs and environment. “MCUs are one of the most important elements in sustaining the continued advance and expansion of the IoT. With their ability to monitor, analyze, and react to environmental data, today’s generation of MCUs bring much needed intelligence to the smart devices and systems that form the IoT. MCUs deliver meaningful and predictive analytics and data reduction. They also enable the management of data exposure through the application and maintenance of data models in support of applicable interaction models, all while minimizing power consumption and cost.” Along with other components critical to the IoT, MCUs, sensors, and actuators will need to be developed at a pace that matches the growth of IoT.
  5. Communication and Interoperability. The devices that fuel the IoT must be able to communicate with each other independently and without the need for human intervention. The intricacy of establishing and managing “machine-to-machine” (M2M) communication, as it pertains to the IoT is nearly indescribable, and the power that will be required to fuel this communication will be significant. It is seemingly impossible to think of a single communication technology that can support each and every case and operate in all possible environments. Logvinov believes, that “most likely, the IoT will leverage many communication technologies with the goal of delivering an ‘always on’ experience while minimizing the power consumed by the IoT.”

It has been predicted that 50 billion devices will be networked by 2020. However, some experts argue the estimate is on the low side.  Logvinov asserts that open standards will be critical to support the development areas above — serving as building blocks for the foundation of the IoT and speeding innovation.

Logvinov points to a number of standardization projects that have been launched recently, including IEEE’s own IEEE P2413, “IEEE Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT).” The IEEE P2413 project is working to develop a common core of open standards that include architectural frameworks, reference models, and data-abstraction blueprints to enable clearly defined relationships among the IoTs numerous verticals. Their hope is to minimize industry and vertical market fragmentation, improve interoperability, and allow for the building of IoT ecosystems that successfully and effectively leverage the power of all “things.”

What are your suggestions for how to solve for these key components of the IoT? Are there any components you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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