scalability of systems; on their impact on productivity at the macro level; and on their role in software interoperability.
Speaking as an economist, Dr. Raduchel lauded standards for opening up and expanding markets, and he declared that, in fact, “everything about them is good.” But he cautioned that unless a software standard is accompanied by what a computer scientist would call a “working reference implementation,” it is incomplete and of such limited value that, in the end, the volume leader defines the standard. He stressed that there is no way to write down a set of code completely as a specification, and one finds out what is left out only in the writing. In many cases where standards do exist, “the way Microsoft implements it is all that matters”—and should Microsoft choose not to follow the standard at all, any software product built to be interoperable with its products must follow Microsoft’s bugs and whatever deliberate decisions it made not to be compatible. Foreshadowing Hal Varian’s talk on open-source software, he noted that Linux provides one of the first instances in which both a powerful standard and a working reference implementation have appeared at the same time, and he credited that for Linux’s emerging influence.
Dr. Jorgenson thanked Dr. Scott for conveying how software problems play out in the real world and lauded both speakers for providing a very stimulating discussion.