Discourse on Standardization: Public or Private?

Discourse on Standardization: Public or Private?

Timothy Schoechle (University of Colorado, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-334-0.ch007
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The preceding chapter examined the history, structure, and practices of the principal international standards-setting organizations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with particular attention to their composition, the public/private nature of their organizations, the interests they serve, and their processes. The present chapter will examine current discourse on standardization and the rise of the consortia movement. It will do so first by framing the debate within general structural and openness issues and then by looking at specific rhetorical examples of arguments, claims, and controversies. It will then establish a taxonomy of arguments and rhetorical discourses, focusing on the issue of legitimation of consortia standardization. It will next analyze several important cases, looking at public documents, testimony, and reports. In doing so, it will examine the specific claims to legitimacy made by consortia and traditional bodies. It will seek to clarify how the practice of standardization is being discursively re-constructed. Finally it will consider international, institutional, and industrial responses to these claims of legitimacy and to the political/economic pressures they have brought.
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When what is said does not sound reasonable, affairs will not culminate in success.

—Confucius, c. 479 BC


Structure And Openness

This section will examine the discourse on standards and standardization in order to identify the broader issues and the terminology that set the stage for a detailed analysis of the discourse. These issues include the structure of standardization, the openness of its practices and processes, institutional motivation, and forms of enclosure that are interwoven in the standards environment. In particular, this section will focus on the key issue of claims to legitimacy that are made by the various actors in the debate. This focus will provide a framework for establishing a taxonomy of arguments in the following section.

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