Episode 10: The Need for Standards

Standards are an important driving force in every civilization. Standards help us all agree on how we define things, and provide opportunities for us to more effectively engage with each other in trade and in other ways.

There is an interesting article in Science Magazine about how traders in the ancient Near East and Europe, during the Bronze Age, developed standardized weights and measures over time that allowed them to more easily trade goods with people from other parts of the world. The process of creating these standardized weights took place over a long period of time, but the weights are surprisingly consistent despite the time and distance.

Standardization is much more complex today, and we now have international standards for weights like the kilogram. The Kilogram standard was developed in 1799, and a single cylinder of platinum-iridium that resides in Paris, France, has been used since 1889 as the internationally-recognized standard for a kilogram of mass. That changed in 2019, when scientists and governments around the world defined the Kilogram instead based on a newly defined value of Planck’s Constant, in a process that took many years and many scientific experiments to define. Veritasium has an interesting video about this process.

All of this really leads to the point of this episode: standards are important. There is a lot of work being done in the publishing industry to define and update standards for things like BISAC subject codes, EPUB, ISBN, and ISNI. There are committees and working groups (especially at BISG) that discuss these standards, discuss best practices, and help the publishing industry advance.

I highly encourage you to get involved with these organizations and join the committees that are developing and discussing these standards. More voices are always welcomed, and your unique input is needed.

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