Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths

Subject: Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 03 Jun 2002 10:00:02 -0300

mily Berk wrote:

Haven't any of you read Virginia Woolf's diaries? How infuriated she'd become if anyone disturbed her when she was trying to write her novels? How she'd budget her mornings to ensure she had a swath of time to write undisturbed? It wasn't an ATTITUDE. It was the environment she needed to get her work done.
For everybody you could mention withwith similar work habits, you can just as easily mention someone who learned to work in chaos. Someone else has already mentioned Jane Austen, for example.

At any rate, both tech-writing and programming are more crafts than arts. By that, I mean that in both the goal is functionality, not personal expression (OK, so maybe not in Perl, where there's always more than one way to do it ;-) ). So, I'm not too sure that any analogy from the arts really holds true.

However, I do note that many programmers would disagree and say that what they do is an art. That's another interesting creativity myth incorporated into programming. It's probably healthy for self-respect, but, again, can lead to prima donnas if taken too seriously.

And we are just writing technical documentation. It's just technical documentation. And, in my opinion, if the technical documentation isn't perfect, well, we can fix that in the release notes. But if the software doesn't compile or if it doesn't do what it's supposed to do, it just doesn't matter whether the tech writer got answered promptly enough to feel valued.

It's not a question of whether the code compiles. Obviously, it's not going to ship until it does. Nor is it a question of whether the writer feels valued - it's a question of getting work done that needs to be done.

I believe in The Zone, Bruce. I've been there; I KNOW it's real.
I've never denied that it exists. I've been talking about the myth of the "zone," which is not the same thing as its reality.
And I know that EVERYONE (even tech writers) needs to be, and deserves to be undisturbed in, The Zone sometimes.

One of the strongest parts of the myth of the "zone" is that people are more productive in it, or perform their work better while in it. In fact, there is no evidence that that is true. While sometimes work done in this state is brilliant and error-free, the same is sometimes about work ground out painstakingly and with interruptions. In both cases, it would be extremely rash to assume that review and revision wasn't necessary.

However, people do generally feel better about their work and themselves after being in this state. It may be worth fostering for this reason alone - but not at the expense of other people's work.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"Funny how the years have flown,
Like the leaves fall in September,
They've lost sight of you as your legend grows,
But this road and I remember."
- Garnet Roger, "Night Drive"

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Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths: From: Emily Berk
Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths: From: Emily Berk
Re: Handling developers, "the zone" and other myths: From: Emily Berk

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