Well, isn't this interesting. I leave for a COUPLE of days and everything freaking falls to pieces. I really can't spare the time for this post, but someone's got to do it, and that someone apparently isn't Raven. Besides, xkcdsucks is beating us (eh, me) now, and that's unacceptable.
ANYWAY, the reason that I'm taking the time to write this is because either living in Holland does crazy things to the internet, or Raven's blog is gone, Raven's profile is gone, and Raven's AdSense account that was pulling in money from this blog for sweet prizes once we announced some contests is inaccessible (it always was to me, but now I can't even ask her about it or do anything with the money). Oh, and she's also not in the "Team Members" part of the blog. (Ann Apolis still is, but I don't think she was ever going to do anything anyway).
So! Looks like I've inherited this thing. Woo. Let's take a look at xkcd, shall we?
Title: Standards; alt-text: Fortunately, the charging one has been solved now that we've all standardized on mini-USB. Or is it micro-USB? Shit.
It's Micro-USB. Idiot.
Anyway, Randall has graciously shared one of his "observations" with us lowly plebeians on the internet. As usual, it's 1) not funny and 2) wrong. One big red flag that this comic is going to suck is the subtitle: "See: A/C chargers, character encodings, instant messaging, etc." That's right, give us specific examples so that we don't say, "That's not how Blu-ray became a standard! That's not how HTML became a standard! That's not how electrical plugs became a standard! That's not how literally ANYTHING became a standard!" Oh, and air conditioners don't have chargers. Idiot.
You know how standards form? Committees and organizations come together and say, "Hey, what's a good standard for this? Oh, that is? Okay, agreed!" Or, two standards exist and some catalyst forces one into the forefront (Sony including cheap Blu-ray players in PS3s), leaving the other in the dust. Nowhere, ever, has a company come out and said "Hey, there are so many standards, so just use ours instead!" (or if they have, they failed hard and we'll never hear about them).
Let's take a look at Randall's "examples." Maybe they're the exception to the rule. AC chargers? Nope, that's just everyone saying, "There's no standard so we're just picking one we like and bundling it with the device." What's the use case for that, anyway? "Must be able to supply power to device"? Well would you friggin' look at that, EVERY POWER SUPPLY COVERS THAT USE CASE. Holy balls but Randall's stupid sometimes.
Well, surely this applies to character encoding, right? I mean, there are enough character sets out there...oh. Nope, wrong again. ASCII was the standard for 45 years, and now UTF-8 is. Was that really so hard? The reason we have so many encodings is because we have so many languages! ISO/IEC_8859-6 and ISO/IEC_8859-8 are different standards because Arabic and Hebrew are different languages with different characters sets! Of course neither culture is going to agree to use the other!
Okay, last ditch effort. Maybe instant messaging falls prey to this so-called problem? No! As with the chargers, it's just a bunch of companies with a bunch of formats. All of the standards cover all of the use cases; that's why they're still in competition. If a new standard truly did something the others didn't, it would go the way of Facebook and take over. IM clients don't do that.
All in all, this comic is just another "haha what if" strip without the awareness that that's what it is. Sure, it's a funny situation: Everyone tries to standardize things, so we have a ridiculous amount of "standards." Problem is, that's not how things work in the real world. The things that cover all the use cases ARE the standards, and everything else is just competing products.
Randall's wrong again.
And for crying out loud, Google, being in the Netherlands for three days does NOT make me Dutch! I'm logged into my Google account at all times, and you KNOW I'm an American! Stop making the first link to my searches nl.wikipedia.org, stop putting Blogger in Dutch, and stop trying to "help"! I can't read anything else here; at least let me look at webpages!
...Was this "feature" Randall's idea?