Economist: The Fortune of the Commons
May 12, 2003, 19:00 (2 Talkback[s])
How to Help Your Business Become an AI Early Adopter
[ Thanks to Howard B. Golden for this
"These network effects also explain why the IT industry in the
1980s already started to move away from completely proprietary
technology, the hallmark of the mainframe era. Microsoft, in
particular, figured out how to strengthen feedback loops by
encouraging other software firms to develop applications for its
operating system. This kind of openness made Windows a standard,
but users were still locked in.
"Now it seems that, thanks to the internet, the IT industry has
entered a positive feedback loop in favour of open standards.
Looking back, says Mr Wladawsky-Berger, historians will say that
the internet's main contribution was to produce workable open
standards, such as TCP/IP, its communication protocol, or HTML, the
language in which web pages are written. The internet has also made
it much easier to develop standards. Most of the work in the
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C), the internet's main standards bodies, is done
online. Global open-source communities are able to function because
their members can communicate at almost no cost using e-mail or
other online tools.
"The success of these groups has also inspired traditional IT
companies to create their own open-source-like bodies. Sun, for
instance, launched the 'Java Community Process,' or JCP, to develop
its Java technology. But because Sun is worried that its standard
could splinter, just as that for the Unix operating system did, the
firm has installed itself as the JCP's benevolent dictator..."