October 25th, 2007 - by Golgotha

Can we get some standards people?

The Web Standards Project (WaSP) fights for standards within the web industry. They lobby on behalf of all web developers to have browser companies adhere to community developed standards. Whether the browser companies actually listen to them is another story, but at least there is an organization that works for the people. It seems to me we need MORE of these types of organizations because things are getting out of hand.

Here are just a few areas that come to mind that could greatly benefit from some standards:

Memory Cards

The most common types of flash memory cards for digital cameras are: CompactFlash (CF), Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick and xD-Picture Card. The type of memory card you’ll need is determined by which digital camera you use.

Can we not just have one format please? I bought a new Cannon camera and now all my old memory cards from my old camera, a Kodak, don’t work. Thanks people.

Also, as long as we’re talking about digital cameras and standardizations – how bout you standardize on batteries too? Are you in the battery business or the camera business?

Printer Ink Cartridges

This is all #()%#@ up. Not only does every printer company use its own proprietary ink cartridges, but there are actually different cartridges WITHIN the same company! Why?

Let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of technology involved in the actual cartridge — they’re just little holders of ink. Why can’t they all just standardize and place their focus on making a better printer?

Motherboards

Why so many different motherboard variations? The use of different chipsets for each motherboard really limits you from upgrading your computer. And should you decide to upgrade, you have to take your entire computer apart. It would be really nice to see some standardizations here.

HD DVD

High definition movies are barely out of the gate and that horse is down. Nothing has hurt this more than the lack of standards. Blu-ray or HD DVD? Neither! I’ll wait to see who wins first.

What areas do you see that could benefit from some standards?

7 Responses to “More Standards Please”

1 Rob Lowe

Re: HD DVD,

I agree kinda. I think in the end, neither (HD DVD and Blu Ray) will win out. I mean, who wants to see Tobey Maguire’s fat face in 1080p on the ‘Spider-Man: The High Definition Trilogy’? Not me. :-p

2 John

I think there’s a difference between what WaSP advocates and what you’re talking about.

Standards are a set of guidelines as to how industry-specific processes and procedures should be handled.

For instance, the manufacturers of memory cards might all follow the same procedures when it comes to producing their cards, but what emerges at the other end are separate ‘products’ are there can be as many of those as people care to make.

So in a web industry analogy, the standards are the manufacturing processes and the websites are the products.

Sometimes, a product will come along which becomes so ubiquitous that it is known as the ‘industry standard’, like Technics 1200s for DJs or QuarkXpress/InDesign for publishing, but it is still a product, not a set of guidlines, and it only becomes known as a standard because it is so popular as to completely dominate a market segment.

I guess with the examples you’ve chosen, there just isn’t that market dominator.

3 Golgotha

@John – I see it differently. There ‘could’ easily be a standard created that says ALL ink cartridges need to have a certain ‘universal’ interface. Much like the universal serial bus port.

“So in a web industry analogy, the standards are the manufacturing processes and the websites are the products.”

The browsers are the products, that’s who WaSP lobbies. It’s the browser companies that we would like to adopt the standards.

And just because you dominate a market does not mean you automatically get to set the standards and do what you want. I guess Microsoft probably agrees with you though.

4 Robin

I agree it would be a lot easier to stick to one standard, but that isn’t the way the industry works. Don’t you want to make your client a website that has better technology that your competitors? Do you want to hear him complain that your php website doesn’t run in your competitor’s .net environment?

In IT, it’s the one who sells most of “his standard” that gets the money and becomes “the standard”. If no single browser would care about W3C, no one would care about W3C either. I think it’s thanks to success of Firefox that developers start getting (back) to the W3C standards. And perhaps Microsoft will too one day. They built a (Adobe)pdf export in Office 2007, didn’t they.

5 Jon

Power leads and chargers are my pet hate.

Ok, so I presume some devices may need different voltges etc, but surely we can standardise to 2/3 different power needs?

Last time my girlfriend and I went abroad I took a power cable for my old-style Nintendo DS, another for her DS Lite. One for my iPaq, 1 for our Mobile Phones (both sony, phew!) and 1 for each of our cameras.

That’s 6 different cables.

6 Jon

Sorry to post twice but I just remebered how mad I got when I found that our new Fujifilm camera took a non-standard USB cable!

What’s the point in that? It meant I had to have 2 cables to get pics from our 2 cameras onto the PC.

There was no need either, it was the same size port, just a different shape.

7 geekophile

Thank you, thank you, for voicing one of my pet peeves. I think you’re right, none of the companies that create devices that require the myriad proprietary memory cards, cables, batteries, etc. want to let go of the sales that come from consumers having to buy THEIR version when it comes time to replace them, or to equip themselves when they make a new purchase. (Power adapters is another one on my list — they’re heavy! Having to carry around a different one for each device is more than inconvenient.)

Imagine if manufacturers hadn’t somehow arrived at a standard for the shape and size of the electrical outlets in our homes, and the plugs we plug into them! People came to their senses there and found a way to cooperate across manufacturers to implement a standard — there’s no reason they can’t do it here.

Saying “that’s not how it’s done” is no reason to stop pushing for it. It’ll take time, and will start with just a couple of manufacturers joining forces, then will spread to others just a few at a time. But eventually we’ll reach critical mass, and at that point, those that don’t make the effort to provide products that accommodate the “standard” will find themselves losing sales to those that do. This is one of those times when “voting with your pocketbook” is the one pressure that each of us can bring to bear to effect a change for the better for all. And organizations (like WaSP) that call for that change get the ball rolling in the right direction.

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