Industry, Academia & Government Celebrate of U.S. World Standards Day 2015

Posted on October 1st, 2015

The U.S. celebration of World Standards Day 2015 is taking place today, October 1st, at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Image: Shutterstock, NikoNomad

One of the postulates of the Shannon-Weaver model of communication is that communication requires agreement. If the parties involved in an exchange of information do not form an agreement on the meaning of the terms used during an exchange, the resulting communication will sloppy and typically, unsuccessful.  Weaver’s assertion can be applied without argument to a conversational exchange, but it also applies to technology development.

The technology we use today, from phone to computer, instant message to satellite communications system — must “speak the same language.” When they do not, our messages will not go through, devices will not communicate or interoperate, and communication will break down.  “Standardization” is the strategy of leveraging broad consensus to design technologies that speak the same language and enable global communication and interoperability.  In observation and celebration of the collaborative power of technological standards, World Standards Day was launched in 1970 to recognize the achievements of the standards community.

The U.S. celebration of World Standards Day 2015 will take place on the first of October at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event recognizes the many important contributions of those in the standards community, including innovators in industry, academia, and government. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2015 Ronald H. Brown Standards Leadership award, which is named after the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce and honors an individual who has effectively promoted standardization as a key tool in the elimination of global trade barriers.

It’s never easy for us to pass up an opportunity to brag on our friends, and it is worth noting that many of those innovators working in the standards community can be found among OpenStand’s very own affirming partners and supporters.  Organizations like W3C, IEEE, and the Internet Society will be on hand for the U.S. celebration of World Standards Day, showcasing some of the recent work that they have been doing in standards development.

We hope you’ll check out the World Standards Day site and keynotes.  If you’d like to become an OpenStand advocate, simply:

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OneWebDay 2015 to Focus on ‘The Next Billion’ to Join the Web

Posted on September 22nd, 2015

It's OneWebDay! This year's theme is "Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion." Find out how open standards are crucial in order to keep the internet thriving.

For the past nine years, September 22 has been set aside by open-web advocates and professionals to raise awareness for the importance of open-standards and open-networking principles under the umbrella of “OneWebDay.” The 2015 theme for OneWebDay is “Connecting the Next Billion.” The theme was selected to align with the concurrent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) program, “Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion.”

The term, “the next billion,” refers to the figures that suggest that there are approximately three billion active Internet users as of 2015. The task of bringing the next billion online all while safeguarding and advancing the utility of the web that we enjoy today is monumental. According to the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), “more effort is necessary in order to connect the next billion and to address the digital divide” and “Collaboration between governmental and non-governmental actors is key to meet this challenge.”

In a keynote address earlier this year, United States Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine Novelli addressed the issue of Internet expansion, drawing from data contained in a 2014 report from the Alliance for an Affordable Internet (A4AI). In the address, Novelli identified four important principles for a thriving Internet:

  1. Drive broadband infrastructure expansion through increased private investment and removal of barriers.
  2. Intensify competition and level the playing field to increase access, reduce cost and stimulate demand.
  3. Open access and infrastructure sharing.
  4. Enable access to spectrum.

Here is Ms. Novelli’s full address:

OneWebDay is another opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of open-web principles and the issues that may face the Internet as we collectively work to accommodate the millions of people who connect and who will connect in the future. If you have any feedback, be sure to leave a comment. To become an advocate for the principles that have contributed to the open internet and technology development environment we enjoy today, we invite you to become an OpenStand advocate by: 

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IETF, ISOC Support Open Standards Growth by Investing in Latin America

Posted on September 16th, 2015

Despite the global openness of IETF, most contributors have historically hailed from the West—but IETF and ISOC are looking to change that and bolster participation from Latin American countries in particular.

Image: Internet Society

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the institutional home for Internet Standards development. In short, the IETF develops, supports, and maintains standards that support the Internet, communications, systems and protocols, etc. As with other open standards development organizations (SDOs), participation in the IETF is open to anyone with the expertise and inclination to engage in standards development.

Unfortunately, despite the global openness of IETF, most contributors have historically hailed from the West, with the top three contributing nations being the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany. According to recent IETF data, presented by IETF Chair, Jari Arkko, of the 70 countries that have published standards documents and under-review specifications, only seven of those were Latin American:

  • Argentina (23 published documents)
  • Brazil (7 documents)
  • Chile (5 documents)
  • Uruguay (2 documents)
  • Cuba (1 document)
  • Colombia (1 document)
  • Ecuador (1 document)

Noting increased involvement from the Latin American region, IETF and ISOC sought to bolster the region’s participation by launching a program to provide financial aid to engineers from under-represented regions to support attendance at IETF meetings. Several Latin American web professionals have already taken advantage of this program. They have also established the IETF-LAC group, which works with Latin American (and Caribbean) engineers to coordinate their contributions to and involvement in the IETF.

While this represents a significant inroad to increasing the Latin American footprint in the world of open web standards collaboration, success requires more than just financial aid programs and regional coordinating bodies: There must be significant employer commitment to investing in standards development, as well as support from governments and universities who want to help build a web that is open, innovative, and truly global.

The IETF’s move underscores its deep commitment to the OpenStand Principles and the belief that active participation from all regions is key for the Internet to remain open and inclusive. We hope our readers in Latin America will take note of these changes and participate with IETF in open standards.

Feel free to leave a comment or write us a message and tell us how you think open web standards can impact the growth of developing markets!

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Culinary Metaphors for “Tasty” Standards Development

Posted on September 9th, 2015

Standards development and cooking a delicious dish in the kitchen have more in common than you might think.

Image: Shutterstock, Pinkyone

In a recent post, Web standards expert and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) blogger Virginie Galindo likens standards development to cooking. Galindo compares gathering feedback from web developers to “test[ing] a dish” and seeing if the audience finds it “to [their] taste.”

Galindo’s culinary metaphor is a handy one, as it uniquely captures the creative and communal aspects of standards development. At the Paris Web conference this October, Galindo will be discussing possible “recipes” for privacy and security. The conference, which will be attended by over 1,300 web professionals, will feature a variety of topics regarding open standards, but Galindo is particularly excited about the special emphasis that will be placed on privacy and security. “I will promote the recent work in Web Application Security, Web Cryptography, Privacy, together with security and privacy related activities of the Technical Architecture Group.” says Galindo. “I’ll do my best to expose the recent security and privacy achievements, ongoing plans, and developing success of W3C.”

According to Galindo’s own website, some of her expositional goals for Paris Web include the following:

  • Why security matters and how W3C progresses on that quest
  • How users could win a decent treatment of their application permission, but also better understand the danger and countermeasure of browser fingerprinting
  • How web developers could implement security policy based on crypto operations, and create mixed content with less security risk, thanks to the Web Crypto API, CORS and CSP
  • How important it is to improve user and service provider’s interest by promoting usage of HTTPS
  • How the next features of the open web platform could be made available in secured context

Of all the talking points that Galindo anticipates, none seem to be more important to her than emphasizing the collaborative nature of standards development. By getting more feedback from industry professionals and by capturing the imaginations of enthusiastic contributors, the end result is a set of standards that more fully meet the needs of the developer community.

We hope you’ll join W3C, IEEE, ISOC, IETF and IAB in becoming an OpenStand advocate!

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Open Stand Marks Its Three Year Anniversary

Posted on August 26th, 2015

It's been three years since OpenStand was founded and The OpenStand Principles were jointly affirmed by our partners at IEEE, W3C, ISOC, IAB and IETF. Join us in celebrating our third anniversary this week!

This week we celebrate the third anniversary of the founding of OpenStand. The OpenStand Principles were jointly affirmed by IEEE, W3C, ISOC, IAB and IETF on August 29, 2012, in an effort to codify and jointly affirm the principles that brought us the open Internet and decades of open, technological innovation. The explosive growth of new technologies has only increased our need to more broadly adopt open, transparent, inclusive, accessible policies as we advance technology for humanity.

The OpenStand principles were created with an emphasis on Standards development. Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) working within the OpenStand paradigm operate according to the principles of balanced representation, consensus, due process, and transparency. This results in the creation of an open, competitive system that has, and continues to produce, standards that are widely recognized for their extensibility and high-quality technical content. Without question, open standards developed using the OpenStand paradigm stand as fundamental pillars for worldwide economic growth and progression in all sectors of the global economy.

In parallel, the OpenStand Principles have also proven to apply on a much broader scale, to support open technology development of all kinds. The OpenStand Principles have also been influential in shaping open source development, yielding new technologies and specifications that support global participation, drive interoperability, encourage healthy competition, fuel innovation and create a market-driven environment that supports freedom of choice.

In addition to encouraging advocacy of the OpenStand Principles among individuals and organizations formally focused on standards development, we encourage non-standards-focused development bodies to leverage the OpenStand Principles as we move into 2016. We stand firm in our commitment to promoting open, market-driven standards and technology development, and to helping secure an open internet and an open future. It is an exhilarating time to be active participants in the rapidly evolving global technological landscape, and we thank our OpenStand Advocates and the SDOs that have submitted Formal Endorsements of OpenStand.

If you would like to become an OpenStand Advocate, here are three ways to Stand With Us:

  1. Sign Your Name to express your public individual or organizational support.
  2. Get a Site Badge to display your support on your site or blog.
  3. Submit a formal endorsement from your organization for our site.

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Open Standards Opportunities: Vint Cerf on Interplanetary Protocols for Space Communication

Posted on August 19th, 2015

Vint Cerf has issued a call to action surrounding the need for standardized protocols for interplanetary communication. Sound like dialogue from a science fiction novel? Find out why Cerf believes this is practical.

Image: Shutterstock, Vadim Sadovski

“Space: the final frontier.”

Indelibly associated with Gene Roddenberry’s celebrated Star Trek mythos, these words also carry additional significance for the world of open standards in telecommunication. In a collaborative address at a conference hosted by the Internet Society (ISOC) earlier this year, web pioneer and industry juggernaut Vint Cerf identified the need for standardized protocols for interplanetary communication. While this call to action may sound like dialogue from a science fiction prequel, Cerf assured his audience that the need is a practical one.

“We have this fairly old infrastructure [for communicating with spacecraft] and the parties who are responsible, that have the problem of maintaining the equipment, don’t seem to be able to put in additional ground capability.” said Cerf, referencing the nearly fifty year old Deep Space Network created by NASA. “It’s my personal belief that we should be advocating for end-to-end infrastructure for space exploration. We should be providing ‘off the shelf’ capability for the interplanetary protocols, the DTN (delay-tolerant networking) protocols, available for both spacecraft and ground use.”

Cerf pointed to the emergence of private aerospace companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Orbital Systems as evidence of the changing landscape in the field of space travel. As new players enter the field, they will be mostly unexposed to the idea of standardized protocols, which could create problems for establishing a robust communications infrastructure in the future. If efforts are put forth to establish standardized protocols for space travel now, they could be put to immediate use in the low-orbital applications that ongoing near-earth missions demand, while establishing a foundation for interplanetary communication in the future.

Historically, the traditional practice of aerospace scientists like those at NASA has been to adapt communication instruments and strategies to the specific needs of a mission. Cerf cautioned against this sort of approach, suggesting that “Infrastructure and mission-by-mission thinking are sometimes at odds with each other.”

Cerf’s parting thoughts to his audience of engineers, scientists, and industry experts that were that they should be vocal and intentional about the cultivation of standardized network protocols for interplanetary communication. Cerf went on to challenge those in attendance to collaborate and craft case studies based on realistic mission specifications to demonstrate the need for standards of this nature.

To follow the narrative surrounding standards for open protocols, both terrestrial and interplanetary, be sure to subscribe to the OpenStand blog!

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Panelists of GCIG Conference Discuss Future of Internet Governance

Posted on August 12th, 2015

Who's who in the debate on Internet governance? The global reach of the Internet makes it unique in terms of technology and influence, and it's ability to transcend national boundaries presents challenges for governance.
Image: Shutterstock, Moon Light PhotoStudio

“The point of open standards is not ‘one size fits all.’ In fact, it’s completely the opposite. It’s ‘What is the minimum we need to agree on in order to be able to talk to each other?'”

The above quote was delivered by former Internet Society CIO (now co-chair of IANAPlan working group) Leslie Daigle at the GCIG Conference held at Columbia University this past May. The conference, paneled by technologists, academicians, and industry experts, featured thoughtful discussion regarding present and future practices of governance on the Internet. One of the primary lines of inquiry that wove itself throughout the discussion was that of unity versus uniformity: as the Internet continues to grow into new and developing markets, and more and more IP-based applications become incorporated into our lives, what is the best strategy to preserve the usefulness of the net?

To put it quite simply, there seem to be two basic schools of thought surrounding the aforementioned question. The perspective held by the first school of thought is that the robust growth of the Internet necessitates intervention and legislation in order to keep web activity safe, legal, and controllable. The second school of thought maintains that the growth and equity of the Internet depends on non-interventionist approaches to development and that openness is essential for the utility of the web to remain intact.

So who’s who in the debate on Internet governance? Daigle cited two pieces of legislation that were introduced in 2011 (SOPA and PIPA) as misguided efforts of the United States government to confront the problem of digital piracy and copyright violation. While these are not unworthy goals in their own right, Daigle said, the act of surrendering the control and technology of the Internet to the government would almost certainly have deleterious effects on the innovation of the web. Daigle points to the breadth of technologies and applications that may now be considered a part of the Internet family and suggests that the very openness of the web is what makes it so powerful. “No matter where you connect to [the Internet], you’re connecting to the same Internet; whether you’re connecting from somewhere in Africa or right here in downtown New York City.”

Truly, the global reach of the Internet makes it unique in terms of technology and influence, and it’s ability to transcend national boundaries does present some challenges for staid conceptions on governance.”This challenge between policy and technology is the fact that the ease of interaction between people across the globe is challenging our whole understanding of what it means to be a part of a culture or a part of a nation.” said Daigle. “And that’s not the problem. The problem is we need to find ways to get our policy approaches to grow up to that fact. To grow up to the fact that what it means to be a citizen of this planet is evolving.”

Dailge’s admittedly grandiose language may indeed point to a fundamental issue regarding Internet governance: the Internet is different than almost any other utility or service. Panel moderator and Columbia Business School professor Eli Noam suggested that the Internet should be viewed in the same way one might conceive of a municipal good such as water or electricity, which are controlled and regulated by a centralized authority. But rather, it would be more appropriate to think of Internet governance in terms of the UN model, with entrepreneurs, tech companies, and industry innovators playing the role of delegates.

One of the basic tenets upon which most of the panelists seemed able to agree is that innovation depends on openness. This would not be an openness that is entirely without structure, of course, because the power of the Internet is in its capacity for collaboration and interoperability. Interoperability requires agreement on standards of operation and this brings us back to our opening quote from Daigle, “What is the minimum we need to agree on in order to be able to talk to each other?”

Be a part of the conversation! Leave a comment or write us a message and tell us what you think about the future of Internet governance and how open web standards encourage or detract from innovation in web development!

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Happy Birthday RFC Series!

Posted on August 6th, 2015

The RFC series has been a sterling example of the power of open standards and information sharing. Here's how the web standards community celebrated the 46th anniversary of RFC 1 this year.
Image: Shutterstock, Ruth Black

The documentation series known as Request for Comments (RFC) turned another year older this past April as the 46th anniversary of the first RFC, known as RFC 1, was observed and celebrated by the web standards community.

RFC 1 was authored by Stephen D. Crocker in 1969 as an effort to record and organize unofficial notes regarding the development of the groundbreaking packet switching network, ARPANET. Crocker was an undergrad student at UCLA at the time and his RFC proved an effective way to help insure information fidelity in the technical areas while making the development process available to a wider audience.

Since its inception, the RFC series has grown into a collection over 7000 published documents, all of which are freely accessible in public indexes. RFC 2555, published on the 30th anniversary of RFC 1, serves as a collaborative portrait of reflections on the RFC series, with several luminaries of the web standards community lending their personal anecdotes to the collection.

What began as a simple text file documenting the development of a network prototype, the RFC series now features a broad array of document types. And although the official file type remains simple ASCII text, RFC documents are available in many different mediums and formats. Proven time and time again to be a tremendous boon to the web development community, the RFC series is a sterling example of the power of open standards and information sharing.

Be sure to get notifications for all the latest posts involving web standards and open data sharing by subscribing to our blog!

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Corollaries Between Web Standards and Human Rights Lead to Important Discussions

Posted on July 23rd, 2015

At a summit meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) earlier this year, the question of human rights and standard internet protocols was brought to the fore.  One of the proposals under consideration was the creation of a new subcommittee named the "Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group" (HRPC).

Image: IETF

What does the standardization of web protocols have to do with human rights? It’s a reasonable question; after all, web protocols are technological and sophisticated, while human rights by nature, are are fundamental and human. Still, when you consider the political right of freedom of expression and the expressive power of the internet, the query starts to take on real meaning.

At a summit meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) earlier this year, the question of human rights and standard internet protocols was brought to the fore. One of the proposals under consideration was the creation of a new subcommittee named the “Human Rights Protocol Considerations Research Group” (HRPC). The group, which is still in the initial review stage for IETF, would focus on if and how the freedoms of speech and association should inform the development of internet protocols and standards. An abstract of the proposal, which is available on IETF’s website, describes the HRPC agenda:

Work has been done on privacy issues that should be considered when creating an Internet protocol. This draft suggests that similar considerations may apply for other human rights such as freedom of expression or freedom of association. A proposal is made for work in the IRTF researching the possible connections between human rights and Internet standards and protocols. The goal is to create an informational RFC concerning human rights protocol considerations.

Given that internet protocols and standards are the “gatekeeping” technologies of the web and that the web is the world’s most preeminent tool of mass communication, it is appropriate that there be a conversation regarding the confluence of open standards and freedom of expression. You can follow the progress of the HRPC proposal using IETF’s Datatracker tool. If you are interested in participating in the conversation of open standards, leave a comment or send us a message.

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Open Standards Opportunities: Financial Transactions & Seamless Global Commerce

Posted on July 15th, 2015

Despite today's technological climate, the ability to make global transactions remains challenging. W3C's Web Payments Interest Group is exploring new ways to solve this problem.
Image: W3C

For anyone who has ever sent money abroad, set up an international bank account, or simply made a Web purchase from a foreign vendor, the challenge of translating cost into domestic currency is a familiar annoyance. Beyond the basic arithmetic of conversion, other challenges include additional fees, unavoidable delays, and other technicalities that can frustrate transactions as well as the user. In some cases, an individual may find that a desired transaction is not possible, due to the limitations of the payment systems involved.

The Web’s ability to introduce standardized avenues of communication into disparate systems is well established. Toward this goal, the W3C’s Web Payments Interest Group is working at the forefront of web payments to explore new ways to streamline global transactions. The group has developed a number of ideas for the future of global eCommerce, which range in complexity and promise a number of tangible benefits for users and the global economy.

One possible solution proposed to improve global transactions is to create a new, standardized front-end application layer that masks complicated financial transaction details. This approach leaves existing payment systems in place, leveraging a totally new web application that runs “on top.” The application layer simplifies the user experience and interfaces with back-end systems to seamlessly handles transaction and conversion complexities. This results in an improved and more reliable user experience. Because this solution focuses largely on the application layer, rather than the complexities of disparate back-end systems, it would be unable to produce marked improvements or new consistencies with regard to network interoperability, transaction speed, security or other variables (such as user input required for each transaction).

A second, more ambitious potential solution for streamlining global transactions involves implementing broader changes in Web standards infrastructure for financial payments. Rather than focusing on a higher level application that masks transaction details, this scenario centers on modifying the way funds move from one system to another. This proposed solution would create a new, standardized environment within which users do not have to worry about having a particular payment method in common with a vendor. Instead, the system would ensure complete transferability – connecting all payment methods available to a user – from debit to credit, BitCoin to PayPal and other payment types. While the up-front cost of implementing a new standard like this would be greater, the benefits of this approach would include guaranteed network interoperability, improved speed and security, and lower cost per transaction.

Without question, the Web-based financial transactions area is fertile ground for improvement. Open standards for global financial transactions promise to improve global transactions by improving user experience, simplifying and streamlining transactions, improving security, lowering costs, improving transaction speed and more. While there are some standards already in place for interbank connectivity and communication, such as the electronic data standard ISO 20022, there are no current standards in place that are as ambitious as those proposed by the W3C’s Web Payments Interest Group.

W3C’s Web Payments Interest Group’s Value Web Task Force committee is actively studying the need for Web standards in internetwork transactions. The Task Force is working to gather industry use cases and requirements and uses that data to aid in proposal development. They are currently seeking interested parties such as banks, clearinghouses, cryptocurrency companies, and related organizations that recognize the potential of a standardized field of Web commerce and wish to contribute to future development. Participation is open. W3C is also an affirming partner of the OpenStand Principles.

If you are interested in contributing to the work of the Web Payments Interest Group, you can reach out to them at If you’d like to have more information about the mission of the Web Payments Interest Group and the Value Web Task Force, you can email with the subject line, [value web]. Where you like to see development in the sphere of web payments and commerce? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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