Saturday, April 5, 2008

ANSI Standards should be free!

Why aren't ANSI standards freely available on the Web?

Consulting engineers and designers typically work on projects in a variety of industries. This provides cross-fertilization of ideas that is essential for maintaining our competitiveness in New Product Development. It is difficult for consultants to maintain a library of all the standards that they might require. In addition standards change but there is no mechanism for notifying users that a significant change has occurred.

These problems would be solved by making all ANSI standards freely available on the Web. There would be no need to store a standard either physically or electronically and therefore the current version would always be used. The appropriate standards would be available to all engineers and designers. The biggest advantage might be having the text of these standards available to the search engines. This would improve the chance that a consultant will find the appropriate standard.

The idea of selling the standards is antiquated and counter-productive. It should be changed. What do you think?

2 comments:

MIT engineer, INSEAD MBA grad, and tech entrepreneur Rick Sheridan returns to the US viewing his home country through the lens formed from four years working and studying in burgeoning Asia. said...
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MIT engineer, INSEAD MBA grad, and tech entrepreneur Rick Sheridan returns to the US viewing his home country through the lens formed from four years working and studying in burgeoning Asia. said...

Agreed with the sentiment, but I think that standards could be made much more widely available if ANSI and other organizations ran their 'business' more shrewdly. Little data is available to them of demand elasticity of standards documents. Considering so many videos requiring far higher bandwidth than ANSI requires to serve its documents are sustainably ad-supported, ANSI and similar standards organizations could be similarly supported while still being free to the end user. ANSI could simply maintain the copyright on their materials, and disallow (and take technical pains to restrict) users from copying the content onto their desktops or file-sharing services. Arguments for making standards free need to address the standards organizations' arguments as nicely summarized here: http://www.astm.org/PRESIDENT/mj10_a_business_model_that_works.html . I hope my proposal has adequately done so.