[OSGeo-Discuss] Re: Sign the Hague declaration
chris.puttick at thehumanjourney.net
Thu May 15 09:02:11 EDT 2008
----- "P Kishor" <punk.kish at gmail.com> wrote:
> > But disagree there. Switching from M$ documents to 'real' open
> > documents and dropping licensed graphical data in favour of OSM and
> > free map data opens the door to 'Standardising' on something that we
> can all
> > cooperate on.
> It still is not clear what the "something" is... are you advocating a
> standard for a license or a standard for a format? Are you talking
> about standards in office-productivity applications (word-processing,
> spreadsheet, presentation software) or in databases (should we
> everyone who uses Oracle and Ingres?) or remote sensing (does IDL go
> out the window?) or medical imaging or audio or video or ... you get
> the picture. Let me repeat my question.
> Standard for what?
Standards for everything that matters.
A physical example: in the UK we have a standard for electrical plugs and sockets and for the supply. This means that I can buy a lamp or a fridge I can be sure it will be able to plug in to my electrical socket and just work and I don't risk death by using it.
It is my choice to have switched sockets or unswitched. The plug can be black or white or chrome (hopefully not chrome...); it can be rubberised and curvy or hard plastic and square. The sockets can be sunk into the wall or surface mounted or in trunking and also any colour/material (mine are black nickel, which is nice without being too much, but I digress...). It doesn't matter i.e. these factors are not part of standard, because what matters is that the socket has 3 specifically sized rectangular pins, positioned just so, with the right pin "live" and fused appropriately, the left pin neutral and the top pin earth. The socket needs to have the equivalent sized and placed holes and wired appropriately and if switched the switch needs to meet certain specifications. The UK electrical supply is legally required to be 50Hz AC at 230V +/- 10%
That's it. That's the bits that need to be standardised. And not only are supply and sockets and plugs standardised but mandated to be so. This means I can buy my sockets from whomever made by whomever and my plugs are sourced by the manufacturers of my electrical equipment from whomever. Bring it all together with my power supply from yet another supplier and it all works fine.
SQL already is a standard (the openness of it let's debate another day). A well-behaved (R/O)DBMS responds more or less the same way to an SQL query as the others. This has been a useful evolution of databases, reflecting their relative age. But we do not have standards in many areas of digital life where it would be important, or where the standards exist, they are not being mandated and therefore are not being adopted.
So the shortish answer to your question: standards for the digital plugs and sockets and standards for the digital power supply. The plugs and sockets are the APIs and the protocols; lots of that is already sorted. The digital power supply is the information that flows, the stuff that is important in this information age we are entering. It is there we are short of standards. I don't want to dictate to anyone what software they should use. I do think I should be able to demand that they provide information in a standardised format and this not be an issue because they don't have a specific software package. Where there are no available standards we have to be pragmatic initially, but we must move, with some urgency, towards a position where there are standards for those interchanges i.e. develop them either from existing formats or by starting clean.
It's not about control or restrictions, its about real choice. You get to choose which applications you use for which jobs and do so without concerns about operating systems or the applications being used by your client or other stakeholders, because the information will flow as a standard all can read without issue.
As to why governments first? Another long answer for another time...
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