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Based on this study, it is clear that technical assists to the standards development process can and will speed and improve the process. At a technical level, a comment parsing, review, and reporting system can achieve high levels of reliability. From a pragmatic point of view, we are reminded that any system failure greatly undermines confidence.

The overriding conclusion of this study is a stern reminder that the access and due process considerations of the traditional standards development organizations present a severe test for any technological improvements to the process. In terms of access, the team found that many of the participants, despite the fact that they were technologically sophisticated and able to use the CASCADE software, worked in organizations where the X Window protocol was firewalled for security reasons. For others, the bandwidth of the network connection was insufficient to support the high bandwidth requirements of CASCADE. More critically, the failure of the development team to deliver a reliable parsing system before the commitment date forced the standards editors to forgo the system in favor of more traditional processing of the comments which could be guaranteed. While we believe the system now provides the kind of reliable parsing which future committees could productively use, the current study has to be judged lacking in this respect.

Michael Spring
Tue Apr 23 13:23:13 EDT 1996