The Pro-am Internet Communications Alliance is a hypothetical organization.

“Pro-am” stands for [ProAm? "professional-amateur."]

The goal of PICA (pronounced “pika,” as in “pikachu”) is:

to encourage the development of Internet standards by providing an accessible standards track and by encouraging a community of implementation and support

To make it perfectly clear: this is a mini-IETF, complete with numbered documents and all.

This page held the initial discussion about PICA. PICA has now been moved to its own wiki, at



As of 2009-03-03, the PICA wiki at is (hopefully temporarily) offline :-(.

Fixed it, thanks.

See Also

Current status

BayleShanks asked me what I thought about PICA.

“I think that it’s a great idea, but that since TheInternetIsSlow, it’d be better to hold off for 5-10 years. In 5-10 years time, we should have the software, and then PICA would be easy to do.”

Okay, Bayle said: I want to convince you. So, we arranged a session.

The session came.

Bayle said: (paraphrasing) “Lion, I think now is the time for this. The trick is to do it a little differently. Instead of working to make an organization, why not just start with a blog?”

Kaliya came up with the idea independently, as well. “Instead of making a big organization, just start with something simple, like a blog.” (paraphrasing.)

I think what we’re going to do, actually, is have an OddMuse wiki-blog. We’re going to take the PICA wiki, and make it using the extensions that are used to make the FrontPage on this wiki, the CommunityWiki.

Name discussion

(this comment split from above)

We haven’t decided on a name, yet. Because it’s not really an “alliance” yet, we may need to re-acronymitize the name, pick new words for the acronym, or something like picking a whole new name entirely.

We’ll post links to specifications, as we find them, and perhaps write them up nicely. And then, post them to the FrontPage – if you want to follow ad-hoc standards (or “specifications,”) you can just follow this blog!

Is there already a blog like this? We should do a research study, see if we can find anything.

And: anyone got any name ideas?

  • Is there something already like this?
  • Anyone got a good name idea?

God that was a fun event.

“With Love,” Lion :) <3 <3 :D

The MicroFormats wiki seems to be the closest…

We talked about that, but it’s specific to micro-formats.

Brainstorming a name for the blog/wiki; Put your name and a smiley depending on what you think, if you care.

The usual CommunityWikiPolling:

  • -2 or :'( – : ‘ (
  • -1 or :( – : (
  • 0 or :-| – : - |
  • +1 or :) – : )
  • +2 or :D – : D
  • +3 <3 <3 <3 !! =) rOXors my boXOrss Maaan!! and you’ve disqualified yourself! ;) – < 3 for a heart, = ) for the smiley

So here’s the poll:

LK EK BS Comments
PICA :):):-|
Open Specifications Research :D:-|:(
Pro-Am Specifications Index :):-|:(
Specifications Intelligence Agency :-|:-|:(
Open Specifications for Computer Interchange :(:-|:((those names just sound too formal, but then maybe that’s what’s wanted)
FreshVeggies?:(:-|:-|a play on “freshmeat”
Easy Standards Alliance :):-|
Getting Things Moving :D:(
Easy Open Standards :):-|
Small Scale Software Standards :-|:-)
not-so-standard specifications alliance :D:):(inspired by Kevin Turner
“Small Bridges” - making standards for you and me.:D:):(I like the idea of a small wooden bridge as opposed to, say, the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus, it fits well with InterCommunityCooperation :)
Emerging Standards Alliance :):)
Ad-hoc Specifications Alliance :):-|
Ad-hoc Specifications Index :):-|
Getting Standards Moving :D:-|
Emerging Standards Watch :):(
Emerging Standards Index :):-|
Emerging Standards Forum :):-|
Rapid Standards :)
Rapid Internet Improvement :D
Better Communication Faster :)
add names you make up here

Voters: LK = LionKimbro, EK= EmileKroeger, BS = BayleShanks

Emile, that’s an awesome set of names you’ve added..!


OK I put some votes up but I’d like to get some other people’s opinions too before we switch.

Putting comments inline takes a lot of room so I’ll comment here instead:

PICA by now I’m used to this name, but at the conference it seemed like the word “pro-am” confused people
Open Specifications Research makes it hard to add other non-research functions later
Pro-Am Specifications Index has the word pro-am
Specifications Intelligence Agency “intelligence agency” is confusing
Open Specifications for Computer Interchange “computer interchange” makes us sound boring
FreshVeggies?confusing but memorable; and the tagline can explain it (“freshmeat for standards”)
Easy Standards Alliance if people thought ad-hoc was too denigrating, won’t this be the same?
Getting Things Moving makes perfect sense if you know what you’re talking about but of course it makes no reference to “standards” or “specifications”; still, the tagline can explain
Easy Open Standards same comment as “Easy Standards Alliance”
Small Scale Software Standards hmm this is good but it makes it sound like we don’t actually want the results to eventually become standards
not-so-standard specifications alliance kinda silly and longwinded but gets the point across. but same comment as “Small Scale Software Standards”
“Small Bridges” - making standards for you and me.pretty good. kinda cheesy, but what can ya do
Emerging Standards Alliance
Ad-hoc Specifications Index Added this to substitute “pro-am” and “easy” with “ad-hoc” to see what it sounds like. At the conference people thought ad-hoc was denigrating, though
Ad-hoc Specifications Alliance same comment as “Ad-hoc Specifications Alliance”
Getting Standards Moving a more concrete version of “Getting Things Moving”. too wordy/confusing though.
Emerging Standards Watch same comment as “Open Specifications Research”
Emerging Standards Index same comment as “Open Specifications Research”, but not as much
Emerging Standards Forum

I really like “Small Bridges,” because it sounds friendly, has both human and software connotations, doesn’t sound imposing or dominating, seems pretty approachable to me, and it describes what we’re talking about.

“FreshVeggies?” just sounds cooky, and so I don’t like it, even though I came up with it. I mean, what if someone hates the vegan crowd, but really likes to make software? And I can’t get those crazy Christian vegetables out of my mind, when I hear the phrase..!

(this section was written prior to Lion’s comment just above due to an edit conflict)

Hmm in general these names have certain repeated components:

  • some names don’t explain exactly what the organization is, but are memorable and hopefully catchy; like “FreshVeggies?” and “SmallBridges?”. I like these allright, although I think SmallBridges? is kind of cheesy.
  • many names have a noun describing what sort of organization this is. I like the word “Alliance” rather than “index” or “research” etc, is that I think if we put up an index people will see it as our blog, in contrast to something that they can post on. The difference between this and other random people who blog about standards is that we, the founders, aren’t offering to give our 2c about which standards are interesting today; we are providing an open1 forum for people to promote their standards efforts. The word “index” isn’t as bad in this as “research”; you can imagine some people seeing an “index” and saying, “ok i’ll add myself to the index”.
  • many names have a noun phrase ending in either “standards” or “specifications”, with a modifier explaining our “smallness”. In general my problems with many of the smallness modifiers are that either they are confusing, or they are denigrating, or they imply that we don’t want real standards to eventually result from what we are doing.
    • Pro-am was the “smallness” component in PICA, but people at the conference seemed to be confused by it
    • Ad-hoc sounds properly formal and is correct, but people at the conference thought it was denigrating
    • Easy captures what we mean pretty well, but don’t you think this is even more denigrating than “ad-hoc”
    • I just added “Emerging”. It gets across what we mean without implying that what we’re doing will never turn into standards. But it’s not quite correct; we want people to submit standards ideas that aren’t emerging YET, but that the submitter wants to help along. I guess you could say “emerging” is optimistic
    • “not-so-standard” captures what we mean and is funny but is wordy and confusing
    • “small scale” sounds like it implies that we don’t want real standards to result

Yeah, FreshVeggies? makes me think of Veggie Tales too!

I ran some of these by my girlfriend, who is pretty good with this kind of marketing. She really didn’t like “small bridges”; she said it sounds like a self-help group, not a business organization; also, she thinks we shouldn’t use the word “small” except in certain phrases (“small business” or “small scale” is acceptable); it has the connotation of inferiority or pettiness.

She thought “small scale software standards” (S4) was okay (although not awesome), and that “emerging standards alliance” and “emerging standards forum” were not very good but maybe acceptable.

She also said we should consider just thinking of a distinctive-sounding place or animal or something that is not descriptive. She said that way we get to assign a new meaning to the word without any semantic baggage. She thinks Pica would be okay (although she points out that the actual animal is spelled Pika, and its dumb to misspell it; and I don’t think we should say, “like picachu” becuase we’ll get sued eventually if we are successful; and anyway not everyone likes picachu), although it’s not a very memorable animal, so we could do better (unknown but distinctive animals, for instance Gnu, are better than just unknown).

Magpies are common in Berlin at least, and they are memorable, as they do look different. I like pica. Small bridges - Bayle’s girlfried is right about small, does’t really work - exept in microsoft maybe. Tiny bridges. Tiny cheese bridges, hihi.

Another name idea: Homebrew Standards Club (after the famous Homebrew Computer Club). It may be considered sacriligeous to name something after something famous like that, though.

Now that PICA has its own wiki, WikiIndex:Pica-wiki should be updated.

Today, I’d link to OGuild, which was recommended (& had a LOT of people enthusiastic about and committing to, in various ways) at RecentChangesCamp2007.

Thanks, Lion. I checked it out but I didn’t understand what it was; I left at pedantic list of questions here.

When you say “Today, I’d link to OGuild”, are you saying that OGuild is intended to subsume the goals of PICA, and therefore, since it has a lot of momentum, we should do PICA under the auspices of OGuild? I’m not sure if that’s what you mean or not but I’ll comment as if it is.

I have nothing against some other organization being PICA, but I didn’t see anything about PICA’s goals on the OGuild wiki – although I don’t understand OGuild so maybe I’m missing something. There’s two ways I could interpret OGuild that would support an interpretation of it being something like PICA.

First, maybe OGuild is trying to advance “openness” and “connectivity, identity/reputation, and branding”. In this case, I think the resemblance to PICA is superficial and OGuild is aimed at something different than PICA.

Second, maybe OGuild is like, “a guild for the guild-less”, and the idea is, “let’s all join OGuild and then, under its auspices, get together and do whatever proto-standard work we want to, create an OGuild standards track and OGuild numbered document series-es”. In this case, I’m worried that OGuild’s scope is much larger than PICA’s. Nothing on the OGuild web site talked about it being specific to programmers or technology or internet people, and nothing mentioned standardization.

Sure, if OGuild is a general-purpose guild whose doors are open to people working on internet standards, amongst other things, then it’s conceivable that it would allow us to have an OGuild-branded standards track, but I’m worried that that would be like a large corporate conglomerate which doesn’t pay enough attention to its activities outside its “core competency”. Specifically, if OGuild isn’t just for internet programmers, then there will be lots of people in OGuild who aren’t involved with the OGuild internet standards track. So, when some sort of change in official policy is needed (say, some corporation comes in and starts gaming the process used to certify standards, necessitating a change in that process over the objections of some of the members) or when OGuild needs to make some sort of official pronouncement about standards, it’ll be hard for the standards people within OGuild to get the attention of whoever is needed to OK the change (whether that is ‘top management’ or ‘the democratically-empowered total set of OGuild members’).

Now, if OGuild is meant as a “guild for the guild-less”, then I could see having two tightly affiliated organizations, PICA and OGuild. PICA would be a small, independent organization with its own management structure which produces the PICA-branded proto-standards track and associated document. And OGuild would be a larger umbrella organization which helps out with logistical things like finding meeting space, creating online forums, publishing documents, etc – the members of PICA would also be members of OGuild and pay dues to OGuild. In other words, whereas organizations like the IETF or the ACM authorize documents AND conduct meetings AND publish proceedings AND collect dues, PICA would be like a “virtual corporation” which only authorizes PICA-branded documents, and outsources the meetings, publication, and due-collection to OGuild.

Anyhow, that’s all conjecture on my part since I don’t know what OGuild is :)

Hello, you all. These ideas are very interesting. They is not far from the one’s we are trying to explore on Overcrowded and Anoptique, maybe with in a more restrictive maner (?). We are trying to “build the commons” in the field of the visualization of collective online activities. Why? Because we collective visualizations provided by corporate systems are usually restricted to the image of the corporate hierarchy. ProAm? organizations may only emerge by setting their own mirrors… For the moment, all our pages are written in french.

It’s a pity. But Mattis Babel crazy wikis may help to translate little by little.;-)

At your service. We can do that, put some text on kabo-wiki-hive / multilingual-wiki … Cool. :)

Olivier, Mattis, what do you think about this?:

Also, Olivier, just looking at my trnalstion of PagePrincipale? from Overcrowded, I would say that Overcrowded shares many goals with both BarCampBank, and OpenBusinessModels? WikiHive. I don’t know how many people are active on Overcrowded, but it would be cool to see where these three projects can help each other strategically. Would love Overcrowded’s feedback on questions at:

Feel free to make a page on Overcrowded where people can leave answers to these questions. Just let us know where that page is located, so we can incorporate it into the report that we make on this.

Actually, same exact thing goes for Oguild, which I am also very interested in. I’d like to see how work that we are doing at BarCampBank and OpenBusinessModels Wiki Hive can connect with ideas at Oguild. And, I’d love to get any feedback I can from Oguild enthusiasts about P2PMoneyOrganizedInquiry.

Just another note encouraging interested parties to look at so that we can nail down a name.

Here’s another name idea: “picante”

Talking about “professional amateurs”, I recently stumbed across a blog that has a … interesting perspective on amateur production.

"The economics of amateurism"

"Screen Digest predicts that, by 2010, 55% of all the video market in the US will be based on user-generated-content (UGC)"

(Is there a page discussing “professional amateurs” or “amateur economy” that would be a more appropriate place to discuss this?)

One FederationOfDamanhur principle that I’ve imbibed very deeply, is the idea that if the creativity of every individual is realized, then the society will be healthy.

I firmly believe that if PICA, or anything like PICA, is to become what we dream it of becoming, that this would be a root principle.

This may seem impractically high-minded, but Damanhur is living proof that high-minded ideas and ideals can connect link by link all the way down to the most practical of outer expressions.

Hey guys,

I hadn’t heard of and wanted to look around a bit, but unfortunately the front page has been vandalized so repetitively that there appears to not even be a valid version in the history.

I wonder if there are any longer-term backups of the original content?

This may be an OddMuse failure-point if history is always “thrown out” after X revisions… – PatrickAnderson

I have a backup but I don’t have time to dig it out just yet. I’ll try to do it soon.

I think maybe more people would edit the PICA wiki if the root page of the PICA wiki, was written more in the present tense. Something more like “Have an idea for a internet standard? Hit that edit button and tell us about it NOW.” – rather than the indefinite future tense – “a hypothetical organization … PICA will be accessible” (someday, maybe).

I would have already changed it, but editing that root page seems to require an admin password that I don’t have. Who do I ask to get that password?


1. although moderated

Define external redirect: ProAm PagePrincipale SmallBridges OpenBusinessModels FreshVeggies

EditNearLinks: OddMuse PatrickAnderson BarCampBank