Running Code as Part of an Open Standards Policy
First Monday, Vol. 14, No. 6, June 1, 2009
11 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2009 Last revised: 23 Feb 2011
Date Written: June 1, 2009
Governments around the world are considering implementing or even mandating open standards policies. They believe these policies will generate economic, socio-political, and technical benefits. In this article, we analyze the failure of Massachusetts’s open standards policy as applied to document formats. We argue that it failed due to the lack of “running code.” Running code refers to multiple, independent, interoperable implementations of an open standard. With running code, users have a choice in their adoption of a software product, and consequently, gain from the economic and technological benefits that accrue and which were, at the outset, the objectives behind the creation of the open standard. Hence, we urge governments to incorporate a “running code” requirement when adopting an open standards policy.
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