Review: Standards book by Carl Cargill

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 16:50:27 -0800

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I hadn't heard of this when it came out. I've seen Cargill's first book
(1989), on Jim Whitehead's bookshelf, but this seems to be new work. I
wonder where he found the time while owrking for Netscape nad editing


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Review: Cargill

25 July 1997.

Review: Carl F. Cargill:
Open Systems Standardization, A Business Approach;
Prentice Hall, 1997, 328 pp.

Review by Gio Wiederhold
Category K.1 The Computer Industry
Keywords: Standardization, Standards, Operating Systems, Open Systems.

The subtitle of this book is crucial, it discusses throughout two business
aspects of standardization , namely the organizational issues in the
standards development process, and even more, the interaction of business
and standards in terms of market control and influence on the standard
setting and acceptance process. It is hence much broader than one would
expect from a book focusing on open system standards. Topics ranging from
setting standards internally within an organization to the problems that the
International Standards Organization must face in a politicized world, where
multi-national corporations can play games with national votes, are
addressed. About one third of the book is devoted to brief descriptions of
about two dozen standards organization, their role and future.

Its breadth and erudition makes the book a pleasant read for a weekend when
one wants to mix work and pleasure. For instance, the comparison of open
systems with the tragic figure of the medieval French knight Roland
certainly expands one's mind. To profit from this book some prior or current
involvement with standards activities is useful, since many concepts and
some terms discussed are likely to be vague without having experienced
standards activity and able to supply context.

The history of the various open systems consortia are, except for the Object
Management Group (OMG) and the final merge of the remainder, the Open Group,
just obituaries, so that, in the author's concluding words, "... the moral
of this chapter is unclear." The principal product of OMG, the Common Object
Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is not even mentioned, and the Open
Group is not even indexed, although `knight' is.

Because of its style, this book does not provide specific information about
standards or even the standards setting process. It does not provide a
guideline to readers approaching standards from a pragmatic point-of-view.
In that sense the insights it presents can complement the recent book by
Libicki: Information Technology Standards; reviewed in ACM Computing
Reviews, Vol.37 No.4, April 1996, 9604-0262.