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Cesagen · Events

Stealing Consensus: How Industry has Manipulated the Voluntary Standards Process

Seminar   03.09.2009






Carl Cargill, Adobe Systems

Organised by

Sponsored by the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University.


Meeting Rooms 2 and 3, Ground Floor, Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University

Event details

This presentation examines the evolution of industry standards (with a focus on the Information Technology and Communications Sector) from professional association to consortia to commercial joint ventures and alliances. On the way, it shows how each step in the evolution has increased industry control over standardization (which may be classified as an"impurepublic good") and illustrates how the government has gradually and unknowingly ceded control of this element of industrial and social policy. The presentation proposes subtle changes in government policies to these organizations that may allow the public sector to reclaim some of what is rightfully a public policy activity.


Prior to Adobe, Carl Cargill was Sun Microsystems’ Director of Corporate Standards, where he managed Sun's standardization strategies, activities, and portfolios.He was the Director of Standards at Netscape and a standards strategist at both Sun and Digital Equipment Corporation.While at Sun, he founded and funded the

He has served on the Boards of W3C, Object Management Group, Open Mobile Alliance, The Open GIS Consortium, The Open Group, Enterprise Grid Alliance, ECMA, and OSGi. During the rest of his career,has was a product strategist, marketing manager, pricing manager, program manager , and was, at one time, an Air Force intelligence officer. (Despite this string of titles, he really can hold a job.)

He holds a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Colorado in Medieval European History (1969) and a Masters in the Science of Administration (Management Engineering) from the George Washington University (1975). His interests include Medieval History and the study of magic (as distinguished from quantum mechanics) and watching his children as they grow.

He is the Standards Principal at Adobe Systems, where he is helping to structure Adobe's standardization activities for the next decade. Carl has been a leader in standardization –both in practice and in theory –for over twenty five years.He has written two books (Information Technology Standardization: Theory, Process, and Organizationsand Open Systems Standardization: A Business Approach), multiple book chapters, and the "Standards" entry in the Third Edition of Van NostrandReinhold Encyclopedia of Computer Science. He was the Editor-in-Chief of "StandardView", ACM's journal of standardization, and has written scores of articles on the subject of standardization and its practical applications. He has testified several times before the US Congress, and has been on Office of Technology Assessment and General Accounting Office panels as an expert on standardization. He has contributed to both the EU and Chinese studies on standardization as a social and governmental policy tool. His current interests are in weaving standardization into business, social, and legal fabrics of various industries and governments, and trying to force standards setting organizations (SSOs) to join the 21stCentury. Standards Edge series of books and conferences, which were instrumental in changing the understanding of standards and standardization. He has also funded research on standards at BeijingUniversity, T.U Delft, Georgetown University, and San Jose State University.

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