How to Distribute a Cake before Cutting It into Pieces: Alice in Wonderland or Radio Engineers' Gang in the Nordic Countries?

How to Distribute a Cake before Cutting It into Pieces: Alice in Wonderland or Radio Engineers' Gang in the Nordic Countries?

Vladis Fomin (University of Jyvaskyla, Finland) and Kalle Lyytinen (University of Jyvaskyla, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-70-4.ch014
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This article analyses social networks by looking at the standard making processes. As a framework for analysis, actor network theory is chosen. Standards are of particular interest for actor network theory for they provide mechanisms to align interests of multiple social groups organized in networks that have a joint incentive in working with the standards and /or associated technologies. These social groups include scientific communities, government institutions and social movements (industrial groups, companies, and consumers) that are interested in regulating and innovating with new technologies. Standards provide the mechanisms to inscribe subsequent behaviors that are expected to become persistent over time. Standard making process is a social process. Actors are involved in the process of continuous negotiation of their interests. Due to this fact, standards became an object of analysis for scholars within the social shaping of technology theory (SST). Though usually scholars of this school take standards as material objects, they interpret technology as such, e.g., a bicycle, or a steam machines. In Information Technology (IT), domain standards are intangible. Those are electronic data exchange formats, communications protocols, signalling protocols, etc. Wireless and mobile communications in particular, being a large field of IT, represent an interesting case for analysis. Present in mobile telephony’s domain are de jure (e.g., GSM) and de facto standards (e.g., NMT). Also the broad scope and large scale of standardization processes suggests non-unified pattern of standard making and complex organizational structure. To make mobile telephony standards successful implies large networks and numerous mandatory passage points. In this paper we apply actor network theory based analysis (ANT) to the development of NMT wireless standards. Researchers interested in IT standardization, except for a few studies on electronic data interchange (EDI) by Hanseth (1997), have overlooked this approach. The acronym NMT stands for Nordisk MobilTelefon (Nordic Mobile Telephone) and it can be historically regarded as one of the best examples of Nordic cooperation in technology as NMT systems have spread quite widely around the world and it also formed an important stepping stone for the evolution of GSM standards. We chose for ANT analysis of the NMT standard making process to learn of the usefulness of theoretical framework and to understand the standard making process of NMT as a social and institutional change. In our opinion, this more than anything else, explains the success of this interesting historical incident that changed the telecommunication industry radically and made Scandinavia a powerhouse of the wireless technologies. Our approach expected to bring more understanding on how the enthusiasm of a small number of actors fostered successful development of the NMT cellular telephony standard. At the same time the NMT standard was based on concepts and visions of its developers. Yet, it was these visions and engagements that lead to distributed the big cake of the cellular world even before cutting it into pieces. The outline of the chapter is the following. In the next section, we discuss past theoretical analysis of the topic. Then we introduce new notions into ANT, such as a layer and a multilayered structure. Next we tell the story of the Nordic radio engineers’ gang. We then analyze the NMT standard’s development process as an instance of actor network mobilization. Some insights into future developments of cellular mobile communications, both from the technological and social perspectives are provided.

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Yesha Y. Sivan
The diverse uses of “standards” define the goal of this work, namely, to develop a general framework of standards and to reflect on the process and... Sample PDF
Knowledge Age Standards: A Brief Introduction to their Dimensions
Chapter 2
Consensus Versus Speed  (pages 19-34)
Roy Rada
One standards organization takes years to reach consensus, while another standards organization takes months (Rada, 1995a). Changes are occurring in... Sample PDF
Consensus Versus Speed
Chapter 3
Petri Mahonen
Information Technology is one of the most rapidly developing areas in the technological world. In fact, the classical information technology that... Sample PDF
The Standardization Process in IT - Too Slow or Too Fast?
Chapter 4
T. M. Egyedi
The effect of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on our daily life needs no explanation. That standardization reduces diversity... Sample PDF
Institutional Dilemma in ICT Standardization: Coordinating the Diffusion of Technology
Chapter 5
Martin B.H. Weiss, Michael B. Spring
This chapter explores several issues related to intellectual property in the standardization process. Different intellectual property issues... Sample PDF
Selected Intellectual Property Issues in Standardization
Chapter 6
Eric J. Iversen
In today’s environment of rapidly evolving information and communication technologies (ICTs), technical standardization is said to be confronted by... Sample PDF
Standardization and Intellectual Property Rights: Conflicts Between Innovation and Diffusion in New Telecommunications Systems
Chapter 7
Robert Moreton
The purpose of this chapter is to define the context of standards within an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy and to suggest... Sample PDF
Standards, Strategy and Evaluation
Chapter 8
Wilhelm Hasselbring
For integrating heterogeneous information systems, semantic interoperability is necessary to ensure that exchange of information makes sense — that... Sample PDF
The Role of Standards for Interoperating Information Systems
Chapter 9
Klaus Turowski
The field of business applications encompassing software for production planning or order management is dominated by some big vendors offering large... Sample PDF
Establishing Standards for Business Components
Chapter 10
Jaroslav Blaha
NATO as an international organization consists of representatives from 19 nations and has to satisfy the political, operational and technical... Sample PDF
A Standards-Based Common Operational Environment
Chapter 11
Falk v. Westarp, Tim Weitzel, Peter Buxmann, Wolfgamg Konig
Every interaction and all coordination in economic processes is based upon communication. The exchange of information necessarily requires both the... Sample PDF
The Standardization Problem in Networks - A General Framework
Chapter 12
Simon L. Lelieveldt
The business of payments and the provision of payment instruments have a rich history, which can be drawn upon in a discussion of standardization.... Sample PDF
Standardizing Retail Payment Instruments
Chapter 13
Joel West
The influence of institutional pressures on standards and standardization are readily apparent in their most direct form. For example, in the... Sample PDF
Institutional Constraints in the Initial Deployment of Cellular Telephone Service on Three Continents
Chapter 14
Vladis Fomin, Kalle Lyytinen
This article analyses social networks by looking at the standard making processes. As a framework for analysis, actor network theory is chosen.... Sample PDF
How to Distribute a Cake before Cutting It into Pieces: Alice in Wonderland or Radio Engineers' Gang in the Nordic Countries?
Chapter 15
Michael Sherwood-Smith
There is a recognized need to spread computer literacy across every level of society to generate an inclusive global information society, in which... Sample PDF
The European Computer Driving Licence: A Standard of Basic Competence for Personal Computer Users
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