Sorting Things Out

Sorting Things Out

Classification and Its Consequences

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star

  1. There is no natural law that the best standard shall win—QWERTY, Lotus 123, DOS, and VHS are often cited as examples in this context. The standards that do win may do so for a variety of other reasons: they build on an installed base, they had better marketing at the outset, or they were used by a community of gatekeepers who favored their use. Sometimes standards win due to an outright conspiracy, as in the case of the gas refrigerator documented by Cowan (1985). 6. Standards have significant inertia and can be very difficult and expensive to change.
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