I have been following smart grid standards especially since the talkstandards meeting in Boulder Colorado (the world’s first smart grid city) and also as a part of the Week in Standards posts on Talkstandards. And these standards are evolving rapidly. Here I give a flavour of what I mean in terms of the current and the future.
Posts Tagged ‘internet of things’
In July, Talkstandards.com hosted an open forum which covered current issues related to Transparency in EU Standardization. A number of expert contributors posted a series of articles which covered a broad range of issues related to the general theme of the event. These articles are summarized below. Please follow the links to access the articles in full.
I have long advocated for transparency especially in the telecoms / mobile space in relation to price plans.
There is also a clear need for transparency, within the standardization process.
We all accept that need.
But transparency means sharing information and sharing too much information can lead to Obfuscation. Obfuscation is the concealment of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, intentionally ambiguous, and more difficult to interpret.
Here is an example:
Currently there is a discussion in the European parliament around a paper called The Internet of Things – An action plan for Europe (pdf).
The document outlines a concept called ‘The silence of the chips’.
Silence of the chips is easy to understand and on first impressions, it is benevolent.
In a nutshell, in a world of sensors, RFID chips etc, an individual should have the right to effectively disconnect from their networked environment at any moment.
Hence, silence of the chips and the attempt to enshrine the idea of the ‘silent chips’ in future standards for the Internet of Things.
Leaving aside the fact that there are many security situations where these sensors could actually benefit us, the attempt to ensure that the chips seek permission(or in an extreme case – we can silence them) are motivated by the need for greater transparency.
But they could also overwhelm people with too much information and could defeat the very purpose of Ubiquitous computing (i.e. seamless computing – devices that exist in the background).
Thus, in this case, the attempt to include transparency may lead to too much information, which could be used to hide some real issues and will ultimately defeat the goals of ubiquitous computing itself.
The concept is certainly catching in popular imagination.
My concern is – if some of these ideas go ahead under the guise of transparency, the only people who will gain any value from it are the mug makers and t-shirt makers!
And society as a whole will be poorer in terms of the benefits we could gain from Ubiquitous computing.
Image source: Oneillkza / Boing Boing
The title of this blog is a play on the famous words by the pioneering computer scientist Alan Kay who said that: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. In contrast, the ‘Standards for standards’ approach seems to take the view that: The best way to predict the future is to standardize it. In other words, it seems to predict future directions for innovation and preemptively create a standards template for future innovation.
This approach will not work for a number of reasons, but in this post I will focus on two specific issues:
As new areas evolve, there may be a case for new standards.
However, paradoxically – the need for the standard is not known until the domain itself has evolved significantly to fulfil a business need.
One such domain is ‘status updates’. Until recently, ‘status updates’ was not a candidate for standardization. However, now LinkedIn has partnered with Twitter to propagate status updates via Twitter.
A cloudy weather forecast might be just what’s needed for the Internet of things
Nowhere is the issue standardization more complex than with the Internet of things. The Internet of Things would need all devices, globally to interconnect to each other and ‘talk’ with each other. One person could have many connections so it is more than connecting ‘humanity’ – since the Internet of things entails a ‘one to many’ relationship between people and devices
How to standardize this? How should we interconnect these devices?