Conformance Programmes Gather Momentum

Scott Wilson, CETIS, Aug 04, 2003
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I honestly think that the drive toward "trusted agencies bestowing the Official Stamp of Approval on e-learning products" is misguided. Partially, this is for reasons of cost - "Getting a certificate costs vendors $35,000 (or a much more reasonable $3,500 if they are already a SIF member), plus $5,000 ($1,150) for an annual renewal or a recertification for a new version of the same product" - but also because such an approach demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how the web works. Imagine what would have happened were web pages required to be certified, and were browsers to connect only with certified web pages. Standards certification is just a short cut for lazy programming: you don't write the error checks into your software, and trust some external agency that all is OK. Certification programs are undemocratic, they prohibit the participation of free or open source software, they stifle innovation, and they generally restrict us all to the middle of the road. That's not how the web was built!
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