The effect of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on our daily life needs no explanation. That standardization reduces diversity, facilitates interoperability and thus plays an important role in diffusing ICT uses is clear. Standardization matters to the ICT market. Less evident is the way in which standardization influences the kind of ICTs that become available to customers. In the past it was common to view committee standardization as a locus for collective learning and exchange of technological knowledge. New standards were expected to embody state-of-the art ideas on technology. But practitioners, i.e. ICT standards developers and implementers, as well as standardization watchers repeatedly voice disappointment about the technical content of new standards and the process of committee standardization. They criticize the formal standards bodies for furthering a politicized mode of standardization, and point to the greater use of standards that stem from other arena (e.g. consortia, user groups, and practitioner organizations). These other institutional settings of standardization are held to produce more applicable standards and standards of better quality technology-wise. Are they barking up the wrong tree? In this chapter I explore whether this is the case.
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