Axiom 4

Recommended Citation

"Axiom 4", Global Problem Solving, December 10, 1999,

axiom 1 – metcalf’s law

axiom 2 – early entrants win the field

axiom 3 – significance precedes momentum

axiom 4 – standards as power

axiom 5 – producer and consumer utility

axiom 6 – gatekeepers, intermediaries, and the attention deficit

axiom 7 – positive feedback loops

axiom 8 – differentiation of products and pricing

axiom 9 – switching costs and lock-in

axiom 10 – free information: cooperation in a competitive environment


Axiom 4 – Standards as Power

In the network economy, ever-less energy is needed to complete a single transaction, but ever-more energy is needed to agree on what pattern the transaction should follow (Kelly, 69).

Eventually technical standards will become as important as laws (Kelly, 71)

Since networks are multiple, the interoperating codes and switches between networks become the fundamental sources in shaping, guiding, and misguiding societies (Castells 1996, 471).

We care about standards because of the fantastically complicated economic question of who captures the often considerable value that is created through the establishment of a standard …[s]tandards are path-dependent, and that because of network effects, they tend to have a winner-take all quality, with one standard becoming dominant and devotees of other standards becoming stranded (Agre 1998(b), 6)

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