Re: Process kills the

Subject: Re: Process kills the
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 14:30:12 -0700

At 10:10 AM 10/27/00 -0700, Bruce Byfield wrote:


I know that you advocate process as strongly as Andrew questions it,
and that this exchange is simply the latest in a series of periodic

However, please notice that neither my comments nor Andrew's are
framed in either-or terms.

The arguments I responded to were those relating to his comments
about structure, not process. In those comments, he did frame
his arguments in either-or terms.

Furthermore, I am not an advocate of blind process. I understand
fully where that leads. But Andrew seems to argue that there is
no alternative. I believe there is. I call it organic design, which
combines structure and process in an integrated whole.

> And when you visit a Frank Lloyd Wright house (e.g., Falling Water),
> Andrew, can you deny that logical analysis, ingenious structure,
> and attention to "every little nuance" are at the core of his genius?

I take second place to no one in my admiration for Frank Lloyd
Wright. However, the same traits that you mention could be applied
to looking for an organic structure in a mass of information just as
easily as to following a process.

Exactly my point. Organic design co-mingles process and structure,
whether it be architecture or technical writing.

In fact, I suggest that the
analogy argues against process rather than for it. If Wright had
followed process blindly, he would have designed mediocre houses

But the problem with Falling Water (it's now falling down as Andrew
pointed out, but the problem is being fixed now) was actually a failure
of process. The structural engineer on Wright's staff failed to consider
the negative moment of force on the cantilevers. Implementation
of the appropriate checking process as the design evolved would
have caught that oversight. The same goes for the notorious fact
that the roofs leak in many of Wright's homes. A better process
would probably have found a way to avoid that problem too. The
inclusion of those process steps would not have interfered with
Wright's creativity, they would have enhanced it.

> We all learned in high school English class that outlining what
> you are going to write is a first principle, and that the intrinsic
> structure of any written piece determines whether it will be
> successful. Yet Andrew argues that "organization and structure
> of information is not the 'value' of that information."

Yes, and after teaching first year composition at university for ten
years, I can tell you that most people learn a mechanical outline
that handicaps their writing. Many also found that they poured their
energies into the outline, rather than the writing.

Then your students were in a developmentally frozen state.
Of course as we gain experience we don't follow the original
drill, whose purpose was to instill the concept, not to prescribe
a permanent method. We all evolve our own ways of conceptualizing
structure in actual practice. As a matter of fact, I've found that
authoring structured documents (e.g., SGML) that conform to
a well-designed DTD helps me maintain a constant awareness
of structure at every level. Each choice about what element to
use next is a structural decision. Structure and process get
co-mingled, which is organic design..
| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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