Organisations setting ICT standards should be open, as this improves their standards and contributes to their implementation in software, concludes a group of Swedish researchers. “Standards get better with contributions coming from individuals and organisations,” says Jonas Gamalielsson, lead author of a paper published in June.
The study provides important insights for legislators and policy makers, the researchers explain. ICT policies should take into account the interactions between standards and their implementations in software.
The group has found an ideal example, they say, that illustrates the affect software implementation and standardisation organisations have on each another.
Their study looks in detail at the RDFa XML and HTML metadata standard and its implementation in the Drupal content management system. By tracking comments and contributions from Drupal developers on the RDFa standard, and following the trail of interactions with the W3C standardisation organisation, the researchers show how developers from small and large, private and public sector organisations contribute to standardisation of W3C RDFa via their contributions to Drupal.
The open process adopted by W3C, attracts contributions from many organisations including a number of micro enterprises, they show. And small and large private companies, as well as public sector organisations contribute the W3C RDFa standar, by contributing to Drupal.
Setting the standard
Researcher Gamalielsson, and his colleague Björn Lundell, both from the University of Skövde in Sweden, have been studying the interaction between ICT standards and the development of software implementing those standards for years. The paper they published in June is “first of its kind”, they write, to focus on how software development influences the standard setting process, “showing individual and organisational collaboration issues.”
The two academics wrote the paper together with three software engineers working for IT service providers experienced in open source solutions. The paper was published in “Information and Software Technology”, a scientific journal.
The study brings important knowledge to the relationship between standards and their implementation in open source software, the researcher add. “It is widely acknowledged that standards implemented in open source software can reduce risks for lock-in, improve interoperability, and promote competition on the market.”