Re: HTML as document source?

Subject: Re: HTML as document source?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 14:42:00 EST

At 11:45 AM 7/19/96 -0700, you wrote:

>>I respect your programmer's needs for maximum accuracy, but they must
>>understand that such accuracy isn't the question. The company's greatest
>>need is for smooth organization, not for pinpoint accuracy, and the ensuing
>>time smash that will inevitably ensue if you have to keep two huge files
>>is far, far more than the thing can ever return in profit.

>I agree that each company needs smooth organization, but do not see any
>conflict with accuracy. Servers (and databases) are getting progressively
>more sophisticated to the point where management can have their cake and
>eat it too.

There is an inherent conflict, not with accuracy per se, but with
uncontrollable changes and alterations, of which "accuracy" is the rallying
cry. It could as easily be "freedom of expression" or "precision" or "faster
updates," but the effect is the same: nobody really owns the doc.

>So far as I can tell, management will eventually figure this out - because
>Netscape and/or Microsoft are advertising the next generation of servers
>like heck. Thus, the only real management question is who controls the
>documents? Web Engineers or Technical Writers? And guess who runs the

Who controls the doc and who's responsible for it are two separate issues.
That's equivalent to saying that the printer "owns" the hard-copy doc
because that's its last stop before arriving in user's hands. Yet no printer
would claim such a thing.

>IMHO, what Angela Howard is witnessing first hand is the shift from
>hard copy to Web driven documents. One can argue that what her company
>wants to do is a Really Bad Idea - and I might even agree with you.

>But that's not going to stop the boulder from rolling down the hill. And
>it's rolling straight towards Technical Writers like Angela, jump or die.

>My vote is to jump - deeper into the Web.

Sorry, but perhaps I should make my own position clear, since my quotes
sparked much of this discussion. I don't oppose HTML or the Web in this
case. I know that they'll be used inevitably for distribution. My quarrel is
with the "commune" approach to doc, in which somebody, named or unnamed, can
change wording without being responsible for having changed it. It may seem
like a good solution to a company that undervalues its own doc, but both
users and the courts hold a company responsible for what it says, and if
nobody has the right of review before distribution, a company's
nether-reaches can be hanging far out in space before it's brought up short.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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