Chapter 5: Platforms and standards: a historical perspective
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This chapter explores the historical origins and contemporary relevance of ‘platforms’, a term which has evolved from the study of large technical systems and networking. The coordination problems inherent in such systems were central in elevating the study of standards from examination of specific cases in specific manufacturing industries, to more general concerns about compatibility and interoperability of components in highly sophisticated and decentralization technological constructs. This leads to a discussion of the problem of history; specifically, the question of why some standards persist and evolve over long periods of time, whereas others do not. Here it is noted that the political dimensions of standardization assume a central role in defining and controlling the division of labour and in meeting the needs of dominant proprietors to gain control over the development of complex technological systems.

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