Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the month “March, 2010”

Ada Lovelace Day 2010: Tineke Egyedi

It wasn’t difficult to select the woman I wanted to write about for Ada Lovelace Day: Tineke Egyedi. I got to know Tineke during the Power of Procurement conference, held on November 6 and 7 2008. I was writing for Livre, the Dutch online open source magazine. She felt it would be a good idea for us to pay attention to this conference, as it dealt with the role (open) standards (should) play in public procurement.

Tineke pulled some more strings, mediated for sponsorship and thus I travelled to Brussels to live blog the event. And meet her for the first time. Our paths have crossed a few times since, though perhaps not often enough. Tineke is senior researcher Standardization at the Technical University of Delft and president of the European Academy for Standardization since 2005 (and re-elected twice since). Well, if you are in the field of standardization it’s hard to miss her.

She got me enthused about open standards, thereby broadening my outlook on the open realm. Open standards are important to ensure true freedom of choice with regards to software, to prevent vendor lock-in, to ensure ownership of your own data. And thus, the field of (open) standards is one with major political, social and economical interests, one that deserves close scrutiny. This goes way beyond the ODF versus OOXML debate, though it helped a lot of people in the open source world to understand the importance of open standards and interoperability. Tineke is worried about two co-existing open standards that also need to co-operate. In november 2008 see wrote an open letter to the IT industry and promoted the development of a independent and neutral testing center, to remove these open standards from corporate politics and community evangelism. Together with Aad Koppenol she wrote the article ‘The standards war between ODF and OOXML: Or, does competition between overlapping ISO standards lead to innovation?’ published in the Dutch Open Source Yearbook and in the International Journal of IT Standards & Standardization Research.

Tineke also spearheaded the development of a simulation game, aimed at non-technical participants in standards-setting procedures, in 2009. I was honored to be among the early testers for that game.

When you meet her, it’s only a matter of time before you are ‘into standards’ as well. As Ada Lovelace Day is a day to honor the women who contribute to science and technology and who inspire us all, I feel that Tineke deserves to have a special spot on this day. What she does impacts our lives every day, though few will be aware of it. Tineke Egyedi is one of my sources of inspiration.

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