Some of what we know about open source plays out in public.
But much else -- perhaps most of the progress -- flies under our radar. This is not because the people involved don't write about it. It's because most of us don't have time to read about it. Think about it as the flip side of the economics of abundance.
Here is an example, sent me by Ed Dodds in North Carolina.
It's about the very real progress being made by ebXML, a system of XML codes for electronic business.
The note was posted on the ebXML Forum by Alan Kotok, and details some pretty big achievements.
- The Public Health Information Network, run by the Centers for Disease Control, is now using ebXML to connect public health agencies and first responders.
- The Digital Trade and Transport Network in Hong Kong is now exchanging messages about dangerous cargo using ebXML.
- The U.S. Department of Defense is maintaining a metadata registry based on ebXML.
- Trygdeetaten, Norway's award-winning public health scheme, has replaced EDI with ebXML.
- Energy trading across the European electrical grid is now taking place using ebXML.
- T-Mobile uses ebXML messaging for its provisioning and maintenance in Europe.
These are just a few examples the note highlights.
XML has been around for over a decade now. It's a set of tags, like those used in HTML, whose meaning is agreed to by folks for some business purpose. It saves businesses and trading partners billions of dollars per year, allowing them to route business information over the Internet, in the background, seamlessly.
If you and your trading partners want to create your own flavor of XML you can do so, using any tags you want. So long as all of you attach the same meanings to the tags, so long as there is consensus and transparency, your scheme works for all of you. But the benefits really start growing when whole industries, or industry as a whole, uses the same set of tags, as in ebXML.
This is just one of many such stories that are happening every day on the electronic frontier. Open processes, consensus, transparency, and connectivity are changing the world.
Do you have such a story we're not covering? Please drop it into the comments. I'll be glad to get in touch with you on it. Voluntary agreements may not be sexy, but they are at the very heart of progress.