Interoperability is the technical term for what we’ve lost as tech has matured. Software can be interoperable, either through common, open file formats, or through different programs speaking directly to one another, and so too can hardware: open standards are what allow you to use any headphones with any music player, for instance, or buy a TV without worrying if it will work with your streaming set-up, or send an e-mail to another person on a different mail system.
It was a hard-fought victory. Think, for instance, of the hassle of receiving a text document a few years back. Not only would you be lucky to be able to open it using a different program from the one that made it – you would frequently need to have exactly the same version of the program, or face issues (like with Microsoft documents).
“There’s a ton of issues here,” says Ari Lightman, professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “but I think one of the major ones is economics. As data becomes more of an asset, it becomes difficult to exchange that data across multiple different parties in an ecosystem, because they’re monetising that asset. And there’s also a lot of stipulations associated with what happens should there be a violation.”
There is no easy solution apart from saying there are often global open standards that can be used but if a vendor does not want to use those standards, and consumers are actively using their proprietary standards, then that vendor has complete control of the consumers experience and not much is going to change.
The Internet itself would not exist without open standards, neither would any usable e-mail, nor cellphones, nor USB devices, etc, but it's very much a competition right now with how much restriction a vendor can place on their users without the users deserting them... did I hear anyone say WhatsApp terms and conditions?
See Gadgets have stopped working together, and it’s becoming an issue
Our reliance on technology means ever more devices and apps and ever less interoperability – and the ubiquity of Apple hasn’t helped