IETF 21 November 2012

Open Internet Standards: Collaboration

By Leslie DaigleGuest AuthorChief Technical Officer and Internet Integrity Program Director, Global Cyber Alliance

On many levels, the Internet is about making diversity whole – bringing together disparate groups of people with common interests, connecting independent networks to communicate, and so on.  On a human level, that diversity comes together through collaboration and new ways of beneficial social and economic organization.  At a technical level, it is made possible by interoperability – technology connecting to technology through established technical protocols.  Those protocols, in turn, are developed collaboratively by people, as open Internet standards.  The development paradigm that has been successfully used to create those standards is emerging as an important piece of the Internet’s widespread success.  As the Internet matures, its standards processes will, as well, although to be remain relevant they should continue to reflect the fundamental collaborative and open nature of the Internet. That collaboration starts by focusing on the overall good of the overall Internet as a target, setting aside corporate differences, and contributing resources to drive to achieving a commonly held beneficial outcome.

For these reasons, the Internet Society was happy to help establish an articulation of the principles that underly this modern paradigm for open standards development, jointly launched in August by the Internet Society, IETF, IAB, IEEE and W3C.  Referred to now as "Open Stand", the specific principles of this paradigm are elaborated here: .  These are not new principles, or recently adopted — rather, they are the reflection of decades of working practices of these organizations and others.

This week, IETF Chair Russ Housley spoke about these principles and their applicability in the IETF context.   Speaking at the Global Standards Symposium meeting in Dubai, he illustrated the power of the approach in highlighting how the IETF's Internationalized Domain Name (IDNA) specification, originally published in 2003, was improved and revised in 2008 based on input from the Internet community.  Allowing the community of Internet technology developers and users to experiment, create technologies of their own design, and feed their real-world experience back into the standards process supports the uniquely innovative character that has been the hallmark of the Internet.  The deployment of Internationalized Domain Names demonstrates the success of this approach.

Russ took the opportunity to further comment on the increasing complexity of standards development for the Internet, and the need for these principles to be adopted most broadly:

"So, cooperation among standards organizations is essential. While some significant cooperation already exists, the global standards community needs to foster greater collaboration among our organizations for industry and consumers to realize the greatest potential of technology. By respecting boundaries and collaborating where there is an overlap, we have the opportunity to improve the lives of billions of people."

You can find the slides and transcript of Russ' presentation here: .

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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