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Standardization is an amazing and terrible thing. Standards are easy to appreciate when they benefit you, and when standards aren't present, things get pretty awful, both immediately and enduringly.

Think of Australia's "mixed gauge muddle" - a continent-wide standardization fail in which rail gauges abruptly shift, meaning that cargo and passengers have to be transferred from one car/engine to another.

nrm.org.au/assets/pdfdocs/coll

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A century and a half on, the muddle still isn't resolved (though there's finally real progress in the form of tearing up and replacing thousands of kilometers of rail) (yowch).

My whole career in tech, first as a founder, and then as an activist, has been spent fighting fuckery in standards orgs, as giant companies seek to enshrine a permanent advantage, at public expense, by subverting standardizaiton.

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In fact, as far as I can tell, today may be the 20th anniversary of my first foray into standards-based fuckery!

web.archive.org/web/2000010100

Twenty years of standards-body meetings has given me a healthy respect for the good work of standardization, and a deep and abiding trauma from standards processes that go awry due to greed, personal hubris, or dysfunctional personalities.

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Which is why I laughed aloud and then wept a little when I happened upon this nugget today: Oct 14 is World Standards Day, according to the IEC, ISO and ITU.

gmb.21x2.net/archive/202010/14

But not according to ANSI, which observes World Standards WEEK, Oct 19-23, along with NIST.

ansi.org/news-and-events/stand

Oy.

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