In case you haven’t thought about it lately, it’s a fair bet that everything in your life today depends to some greater or lesser extent (usually the former) on the Internet and the Web. And in case you’ve never thought about it at all, what makes those vital services possible has less to do with servers and fiber optics than it does with protocols and other standards.
The concept of a standard is something of a paradox: competitors agree that they will all do one thing the same way - something that's ordinarily anathema to government regulators. But that's OK, because by doing so the resulting standard unleashes their ability to innovate in orders of magnitude more ways.
Last week I took something of a trip back through time. The transition began somewhere over the dark Atlantic on my way to Brussels, when the person sitting next to me struck up a conversation. Improbably, I found myself discussing ODF – the OpenDocument Format – with a former Sun engineer who had followed the ODF–OOXML contest with great interest back in 2005 - 2007.
We all know that the threat of cyber attack is growing dramatically (don’t we?), and that the most urgent duty of government is to protect the populace (isn’t it?) Assuming that’s the case, how are we to explain the recent collapse of an effort to pass essential cybersecurity legislation? And what, if anything, can be done about it?
The big news in the standards arena yesterday was a joint announcement by five of the standards setting organizations (SSOs) that have been most essential to the creation of the Internet and the Web. Joint announcements by SSOs are rare, and the subject matter of this announcement was more so: each organization was joining in the endorsement of a set of five principles that they assert support a “new paradigm for standards” development.
Lately, we've all gotten used to analogizing patents to nuclear weapons, and equating patent strategies to those that would have led to mutually assured destruction. But in the case of the current patent wars focusing on mobile devices, trench war may provide a more apt metaphor.
Yesterday - after only 7 years - Microsoft announced that its next version of Office will fully implement a standard that the vendor spent three years battling to get the world to adopt.
If you've been following the ongoing mobile operating system wars between companies like Motorola Mobility, Apple, Google and Samsung, you may be interested in a key hearing in the U.S. Senate today. The results could impact not only these companies, but every user of technology.
While the decade long debate in the European Union over the definition of “open standards” has been well-publicized, it may come as a surprise to some that EU member nations are required to utilize a second standards filter in public procurement as well.
Ever since the Stuxnet worm was first discovered in the wild by cybersecurity experts, the world has wondered who had developed the worm, and why. Once it became known the primary target of the worm was Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, suspicion immediately formed around Israeli and/or U.S. involvement.
Up until now, the ultra-sophisticated Stuxnet computer worm has held pride of place as the most impressive cyber weapon known to have been launched against an international opponent. Happily, while the number of garden variety cyber attacks continues to rise, malware with the sophistication of Stuxnet has been extremely rare. Recently, though, two new programs have been uncovered that appear to equal or exceed the complexity of Stuxnet. And that's not good.
It’s been awhile since I last provided an update on my adventures in book self-publishing, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. Quite the contrary – I’ve been as busy as ever. That said, the questions for me are the same as for you: where exactly have I been, and where should I go next?
In an interesting example of life imitating art, the events unfolding in North Korea this week are directly paralleling those that I envisioned in my book, The Alexandria Project.
In a blow to diversity and independence in book publishing and distribution, Google announced yesterday that it will discontinue its partnering portal with independent bookstores next January (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry).
For years now, China has annually invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and implementing a sophisticated IT standards strategy. That strategy is intended to advance a variety of national interests, most obviously to enable Chinese manufacturers to retain a larger share of domestic market sales, and gain a larger and higher margin share of global sales. But there are other motivations at work as well, one of which ensuring that Chinese authorities can keep a close watch on the Chinese people.
First the engine of the minibus died, and then the lights. In the sudden darkness, Frank’s light-bedazzled eyes could see nothing, leaving him temporarily immobilized. He heard the door to the VW open and close quietly. And then, a quiet voice from a shadowy figure by his side.
About two weeks ago I interrupted my current cybersecurity thriller series to post an essay I titled "Intermission: The High Cost of Free." That post generated some interesting responses, some appearing as public comments and others arriving by email. Two struck me as being particularly relevant to this series, because they suggest the goal posts between which the future of writing and publishing is likely to lie.
Frank closed the back door of his camper behind him and peered carefully around its corner. Only a few cars and pickup trucks shared the lot with him now, one of which must hold the person who was helping himself to Frank’s wireless connection.
Yesterday the European Commission issued a brief press release announcing that it has opened a formal investigation to "assess whether The MathWorks Inc., a U.S.-based software company, has distorted competition in the market for the design of commercial control systems by preventing competitors from achieving interoperability with its products."
Frank shook his head in disbelief as he turned his radio off. Who could have predicted that talking heads on the evening news would ever look to Fidel Castro to provide a cogent assessment of an American primary season?