Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

Post-modern Standards

In standards on December 6, 2007 at 8:33 pm

There exist many standards for referring to (or ‘citing’ as the vernacular has it) types of content. Each genre has its own characteristics and behaviours, but the way in which these items belonging to a genre are referred to tends to be well understood. So a journal article citation should have bibliographic information about what publication an article appeared in and which volume, issue and page numbers. These features are easily learned and mean that copyeditors can rapidly spot citations that are not correctly constructed (and request clarification).

However, there is no standard for citing standards. A standard is an agreed way of doing things that can be described in various degrees of formalization. Standards may be de facto, de joure based on the formal standards system that has arisen through international collaboration. What ever the nature a standard should have the characteristics of reflecting consensus on how to address a particular issue (whether defined as expert opinion or common practice) and being available for use by those entitled to use it (a secret cannot be a standard unless it is a shared secret).

The way in which a standard is referred to should, it would appear, be a matter of common practice. And yet having recently researched this area, it would appear that the way in which standards are cited has been a blind spot for standards organizations. Not that this is a purely academic issue (there are usability and societal reasons why it is desirable to have an agreed way of knowing which document is being referred to when talking about a particular standard), but it is an interesting aberration in the overall information community.

Perhaps we need more post-modern standards’ producers.

Incidentally (and getting post-modern about posting) I’ve been unable to write recently due to equipment malfunctioning – hopefully that is now in the past.