This started out as a quick reply about our approach, OpenNCIP and BIC...
Mick Fortune wrote:
> Certainly it sounds as though the approach you're taking is different to
> anything currently on the market - and much more aligned with the way in
> which I foresee systems developing in the future.
That would surprise me, but it could be the case because we started
from scratch. Our clients needed a cross-platform way to control RFID
devices and current suppliers seemed to offer Microsoft-only, which
upsets organisations which believe in openness or free markets. How
else would people solve it?
> [...] So where we seem to be with NCIP is waiting for a sub-committee of
> an American standards organisation to decide how best to define a protocol
> that they only really use for self-service... Not great for the rest of the
> world that has either a) already given up on NCIP and moved on or b) is
> about to.
As I understand it, OpenNCIP started because of the same frustration,
but it was hosted by one company which has been subject of some
uncertainty recently, which isn't great and appears to have disrupted it.
> I can see precisely why you want to be involved in the whole standards
> process but I don't really understand your reluctance to join BIC in order
> to do so.
1. neither clients nor members of the co-op have supported the idea
so far and, ultimately, the co-op exists to serve them;
2. BIC seems very vague about what members can do (which probably
contributes to the lack of enthusiasm among clients and members);
3. BIC appears to go against our core values in two key ways:
i. it appears to promote solutions which compete with ours, like
Adobe and Word (we are a general software company, not only LMSes);
ii. it's pay-to-play and looks even worse ROI than CILIP membership
(which we haven't joined yet either).
The co-op is both an ethical business and operating in the more
competitive FOSS LMS market, so if we are going to charge a higher
price than our actual cost, we need the reason to convince our
clients. BIC membership just doesn't convince libraries, as far as I
can tell. At first glance, I don't see any FOSS LMS companies on
http://www.bic.org.uk/19/Members/ and only one co-op.
> There are some things we have to spend time and money on just to
> keep ourselves informed. How would you run the standards process
> without BIC?
Ideally, I'd find an open, vendor-neutral group to host it and develop
it through a coalition of the willing. Off the top of my head, I
wouldn't like to pick one, but there are a few to choose between.
Practically, the legacy suppliers are all in BIC and probably not in
other associations. So it may be better to open the BIC process, but
that requires BIC members and collaborators to drive it and I suspect
the same things which discourage us from joining also discourage other
cooperators from doing so.
So opening up UK library standards is not an easy problem, I accept!
> [...] You seem to be implementing Koha to speak
> directly to devices. So you don't need the middleware that currently drives
> LMS/RFID integration. [...]
Unfortunately, while the devices we install work another way, we still
have to talk to equipment from the legacy suppliers too.
(I do know other co-ops that make kiosks, but libraries don't buy RFID
self-issue kiosks from them yet: they buy kiosks from 3M or whoever.
I think it's been easier for people to see the benefits of an open LMS
than the benefits of an open self-issue terminal.)
> [...] There ARE tags out there
> that have defeated the labs at ALL of the RFID companies currently operating
> in the UK. They simply can't be decrypted. At least that's what I've been
> told in confidence by three members of the Alliance and at least two
> libraries. So don't bang your head against the wall for too long!
Oh, I've told the particular client that, but I'll keep banging until
we run out of things to try, as long as the client is OK with that
(but it still sucks that any library ends up in that position).
Anyway, please let me know other views on what I've written about BIC
membership. At its most basic, how many library staff reading this
believe their library would pay higher prices for FOSS LMSes so that
its developers join BIC?
Hope that explains,
MJ Ray, member of www.software.coop Experts in web and GNU/Linux
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