Consensus Versus Speed

Consensus Versus Speed

Roy Rada (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-70-4.ch002
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One standards organization takes years to reach consensus, while another standards organization takes months (Rada, 1995a). Changes are occurring in the most famous and internationally powerful standards organization, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to speed its consensus process. However, other organizations already combine some consensus with exceptional speed and may have greater impact on the standards world. The tension between consensus and speed is inevitable. New technologies support communication and decision-making, and these technologies should be used to narrow the gap between standards’ processes that are strong in consensus and those that are fast. Consensus by those who bless the development of standards does not necessarily imply consensus in the community of those who use it. Both kinds of consensus are important, and information technology tools for standards development and dissemination can help achieve consensus. This chapter will examine the attempts by standards organizations to increase speed without sacrificing consensus. The analysis reveals that organizations are cooperating in new ways that should increase the speed with which standards documents arise. Different communities of consensus result. The traditional standards development organizations continue to prevent the free flow of standards documents on the Internet. These documents should be free.

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