Re: Structure vs Substance?

Subject: Re: Structure vs Substance?
From: Mike Stockman <stockman -at- jagunet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 20:17:34 -0400

On 6/10/00 5:53 PM, Dan Emory (danemory -at- primenet -dot- com) wrote:

>XML necessarily imposes structure, and, as one of the byproducts of
>structure, metadata about data. Andrew is stuck in the past.
>He's not part of the Information Revolution he so loudly touts.
>Anyone who embraces the Information Revolution must also
>embrace imposed structure, because it is the path that will
>lead us from chaos to the promised land.

Is structured information good, useful, and joyous to behold? Sure. But
what I think I've heard Mr. Plato saying, and what I firmly believe, is
that the people who place structure *before* content are damaging the
product, the user, and the reputation of tech. writers everywhere.

I once contracted, long-term, for a very, very damaged company. The doc.
manager who came in to fix things imposed standards, structure, more
standards, processes, and rules, and did a wonderful job of which any
Tech. Writing Certification instructor would have been proud.

The only problem was that the documentation was and had always been
wrong, inadequate, and difficult to use, and nobody was addressing that.
Structure, standards, etc. did *nothing* to perform our primary purpose
(and some might argue only purpose) in writing documentation: getting
useful information into the hands of those who need it. Always put
content first.

My response to you is this: Keep your structure until I fix the other
problems. Then we can talk.


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