Let's hear it for Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, co-developers of the TCP/IP protocol that directs traffic on the Internet. Ray Gifford has repeatedly cited the success of TCP/IP here at our standards events in Milan and Brussels; he notes the protocol, being open and non-proprietary, has allowed all sorts of innovators to build upon it without fear of someone seeking royalties. However, Ray also has noted that the protocol is decades old, and being non-proprietary, there is no incentive for any party to improve upon it (look at the struggles related to adoption of IPv6, for example). Lesson? There is no magic bullet on standards, either open or closed, proprietary or non-proprietary. Wherever you fall on the spectrum graph, there are positives and negatives.
I mention this because I just read here in the International Herald Tribune that Kahn and Cerf have been awarded the prestigious 2004 A.M. Turing Award for their TCP/IP protocol. They're the 39th recipient of the award, named for the famed British mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing. Suprisingly, this award designed for computer science had never before gone to work in the area of computer networking. The market has gone in this direction for years now and isn't looking back; nice of the Association for Computing Machinery, the granters of the award, to catch up.
PFF was lucky enough to have Dr. Kahn give our first CEO luncheon of the year, a fascinating discussion on digital objects. A webcast of that event is free online at our site.