No, I am not touching on brassieres here, where standardization could save the beauties in our life some time shopping, should the industry finally agree on more reliable size and fit standards. For most other clothing the garment industry has standardized pretty well, but then that is less crucial in fit and less intensely looked at, right?
Yes, standardization can be sexy and it does save cost
Standards reduce cost and hassle, because they make products and services interoperable. They make markets more accessible to consumers, makers, and suppliers. Standards make safety, performance, and other compliance assessments and certification affordable, further adding to trust between global trading partners.
As in this example, you can buy bolts in bulk from Germany, and nuts in lots from Japan, and – ta-da – they have perfect fit for effective, um, screwing on the assembly line. The profits and success of using standards are obvious, on one hand.
On the other hand, the first problem with standards: there are so many to choose from. The second problem: because technology innovation speeds up ever faster, standardization agreements and committe work can hardly keep up. Actually they fall behind, and they know it. The tech geniuses and wizards in society are out-creating the standardization bodies. Adding manpower, even if they are technology experts, is not a promising solution.
Old standards not so sexy
When new, technology is sexy, for many of us (if not for you, why are you still reading this?). Standards may make products and services affordable, for one, by leveling the playing field for many entrants. But, coming into existence by a semi-open process of building agreement and inviting public comment, standards may take years to catch up, be acepted and finally and add value to the creative meanderings and compromises of high-tech development leaders and consortia. Open Source and the maker movement may be exceptions to this general industrial era experience.
This topic is cross-posted from my personal blog to give it here more of the space it deserves.