Harvesting Hope from Hiccups: Overcoming Standardization Hurdles

06.11.23 1:15pm - 50m

Standardization is an art, not a science. After Meta launched Threads, which promised to interoperate with the fediverse and Mastodon, some in the Interledger community became enchanted by the promise that further down the line this could positively impact the adoption of the Interledger Protocol and the W3C web monetization standard. Cynics, however, have noted that the reality of standards adoption is quite different: the developers of standards work amidst differing economic incentives, a bias towards short-term thinking, and imperfect knowledge. Standards fail even if they are technically brilliant, as large players adopt strategies like “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” to kill off standards that threaten their business models. This panel will challenge the conventional manner of assessing the success or failure of standards. Rather than solely considering whether a standard was widely adopted, the discussion redirects attention towards evaluating if the participants in the process met their objectives through their involvement in the standardization process. Drawing from a range of real-world examples and grounded in experiential knowledge from those who have participated in multistakeholder dialogues and negotiations, the panel will illustrate the diverse expectations which are embedded within standardization processes. In doing so, it proposes the idea that what might at first glance appear as a market failure could potentially be viewed as a success, particularly for some traditionally-excluded communities. Standards might not always be widely adopted, but when they’re thoughtfully developed, they can truly serve the needs of some communities.