Friday, June 20, 2008

Standards are Standards

We all know what standards in the software industry are worth. Some people sit in a room (could be virtual, but most of the time it's a real room), and decide how something should behave. Then, each software company takes the standard spec (or RFC or whatever) and implements it, and then some.

Recently, in the hardware industry, there is a large debate, with accusations and flame-throwing about who should be part of the design of the next USB 3.0 standard. Intel claims that by developing the standard all alone, it actually has a chance to become a standard. Just like the previous USBs. This is my interpretation of things, and you should read about it yourself. We all know what monopolies in the computer industries can cause, if they're wrong, and the standard that's on the topic is closed (that is, only one company controls the spec) or badly designed.

Lets compare it with other industries: Last week we've purchased new curtains for our living room. The "technician" that came to deliver the curtains, said that the bar (or pole) that holds the curtains is too thin, and we need a thicker one. A thicker bar, means a different hooks, which would be able to hold it. We didn't want to replace the hooks, cause we didn't want to drill extra holes in the wall. But when the "technician" realized that this is what is bothering us, he said "what? you don't have to drill new holes, the new hooks uses exactly the same holes as the old ones". This means that the screws would be in exactly the same distance as they were before, and no drilling was required, even though the new bar seems a little bit heavier.

So, now we have new curtains, with new hooks, and I wonder, when and where did the "curtain hanging guild" sat to decide how should the hooks be designed, and how comes they all agreed on the standard. In our (software-) world, that would have never happened.

1 comment:

  1. As a mechanical designer i need to disagree with you (give a small correction).

    In most of the creation you need to choose the correct ratio between the pol and the bolts.
    Since most of the time you use a safety factor (2.5 for technical 12 where human safety) you can use a bit heavier object but that mean that the amount of things you can _safely_ put on that pol is much smaller .