Friday, March 16, 2007

Data standards should not be coercive

In a prior post, I wrote about monopolistic standards: "Yet somehow, when a committee gets together to write a data standard, they often develop a very self-centered culture that tries to eliminate the 'competing' standards."

Standards committees sometimes display group behavior that can be described as antisocial or even sociopathic. They often want their standard to be the only standard used in a data domain (self-centered behavior). If there are other standards in the data domain, they sometimes use coercive methods (bullying) to force everyone to use their standard. They might also actively enlist organizations to enforce the standard on their members.

The most common coercive argument involves telling people that everyone else is using the standard, and if they don't use the standard, they'll lose business or they will be ostracized or ignored by the user community. Coercive behavior should not be tolerated in the user community.

I've personally seen coercive behavior in colleagues who are very decent people who would never dream of bullying another person. Somehow, when sociopathic behavior is developed through a committee process, people lose sense of what they are really doing. To my way of thinking, this is just another reason to favor specifications over standards, when feasible.

-Jules Berman
My book, Principles of Big Data: Preparing, Sharing, and Analyzing Complex Information was published in 2013 by Morgan Kaufmann.

I urge you to explore my book. Google books has prepared a generous preview of the book contents.

tags: big data, metadata, data preparation, data analytics, data repurposing, datamining, data mining, coercive standards, data standards, specifications, standards development organizations