Even though voluntary consensus standard setting now plays a growing role in global governance in domains far from its original technical fields, many observers see ISO becoming less and less relevant to standard setting in its original milieu: the leading sectors and most technologically advanced industries throughout the world. Since the 1980s, when the Commission of the European Union began an aggressive program aimed at rapidly producing new industrial standards relevant to Europe, its major trading partner, the United States, has accused Europe of hijacking the ISO process and attempting to establish EU standards as global standards. At the same time, many firms and hightech engineers in those fields have abandoned the voluntary consensus process in favor of one of two alternatives, proprietary standards formed by cooperating companies, “consortia,” and open source processes in which many high-technology engineers-some of them honored veterans of recent standards wars-are working to make those conflicts “but a prelude to the main act, which is now opening-the free sharing of information, and eventually, one hopes, knowledge.”1

That is a drama in which ISO may only have a small role to play.