Standards Make the World

Originally published at: Standards Make the World - Summer of Protocols

Technical standards are the quiet rules that give shape and direction to civilization. Alongside private organizations and public institutions, standards bodies form a third and critical function in modern society. When they’re well designed, standards can become enabling technologies, like the Internet or shipping containers. Studying the past two centuries of standards-making helps make the…

There’s some sort of evolutionary jump between standards and protocols. I still haven’t been able to wrap my mind around what exactly that is.

Maybe standards are just professional protocols.

Standards work emerged alongside Taylorism and the professionalization of science and engineering. They have a sort of coevolutionary dependence on commerce and industry.

Both protocols and standards constrain the variability of something… Protocols seem necessarily process-oriented, whereas standards can be about objects or things, as well as processes

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Standards as sets of physical constraints that shape/enable their corresponding protocols

still chiming in with “a standard doesn’t have to be a protocol and a protocol doesn’t have to be a standard”.

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Doesn’t have to be physical, right?

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Maybe “material” or “structural” is the word I’m looking for (something that could also encompass code etc)…or this could just be the distinction between hard vs soft protocols that’s been discussed.

cf Lang p.6 “The commingling of terms hides their utility.”

standards feel more like filters than protocols ex. “is according to (standard)” and maybe makes it more commingling-able

protocols feel more like channels than standards ex. “through (protocol)”

there might be overlaps in conception ex. “following (standard)” and “following (protocol)”

Standards show the benchmarks—could be subjective because these can be a mix of our belief systems, best practices, and we set up these standards for how we think of something and work in a certain way, and why so. Protocols sound more like a set of rules to define the flow of context, of information, of decision models, of any progress from A to B.

Standards are models, protocols are contracts