Blessed are the Cheesemakers
Suppose I follow Sean’s suggestions and make a batch of cheese. I can’t really call the cheese Stilton unless it’s been blessed by the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association. Consumers discover a resource using it’s name – in this case a name under control by a standards organization that assures all cheese labeled Stilton follows a strict code and is produced in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, or Nottinghamshire.
Certainly a standards body can overreach itself. I heard somewhere that Monty Python’s Cheese Shop sketch was an allusion to unintended consequences that arose from government policies aimed to regulate retail cheese. There must be some middle ground, where a standard can instill consumer confidence without burdening retailers.
This also applies to geodata. For example, almost all appraisal districts here in Texas use GIS to store parcel data. There is likely a well defined legal definition somewhere for what constitutes a parcel. As far as I know, however, there is no standard (RDF or otherwise) describing how parcels can be published. If such standards were available, appraisal districts could publish their parcels to the GeoWeb where they could be discovered and analyzed by others. But getting consensus from a standards committee would take forever. That leaves us with companies like Google calling the shots.
I bet Google is looking to do with parcels what they’ve already done with the Google Transit feed specification. I don’t think any sort of grass roots movement could have evolved a standard for transit, much less an agency like the Federal Transit Administration.
When Ed says this:
Perhaps a new approach is needed where standards are defined at the same time as new applications and functionality developed, so that the standards process is driven by individuals and organisations implementing new functionality which is standardised once demonstrated to be both stable and useful !
What he really means is this: once it has been demonstrated that Google can monetize a feed, they will support the standard.
Let’s hope the result is better than velveeta.