Re: Appealing to or introducing Tech Comm "best practices"

Subject: Re: Appealing to or introducing Tech Comm "best practices"
From: "Tom Murrell" <tmurrell -at- columbus -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: "Techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 08:58:58 -0400

What a fascinating discussion has been spawned by this thread. For those
who are interested in how long the argument between "Authority" and
"Experience" has been going on, I recommend "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and
Tale" from Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_.

What prompted me to comment was Andrew Plato's statement: "Standards are all
too often tools of control and not tools of value." My first reaction was,
of course, to defend standards. But then I saw it was our resident
anarchist contrarian.

I would like to thank Andrew for following the standards of spelling,
grammar, and punctuation that made it so much easier to understand his
ideas. I wonder, were those demonstrated to be superior, or simply imposed
by authority on Andrew? Must have been the former; otherwise Andrew would
have been honor bound to avoid them at all costs--even the cost of getting
his message across. <g>

Standards, per se, are not tyranical. Rather, they are the human being's
attempt to impose order and discipline on chaos. Perhaps, as I think Andrew
is trying to point out, our standards work best and are easiest to accept
when we understand the underlying logic behind them. "Because I said so,"
has never been a satisfying answer to me.

I'm reliably informed by scholars who have studied ancient Latin that
writers in that language used no punctuation and wrote everything in all
caps. They didn't even use spaces. That was the standard of the day, but
it isn't one I would like to follow. See how you like it in the following
paragraph:

IMRELIABLYINFORMEDBYSCHOLARSWHOHAVESTUDIEDANCIENTLATINTHATWRITERSINTHATLANGU
AGEUSEDNOPUNCTUATIONANDWROTEEVERYTHINGINALLCAPSTHEYDIDNTEVENUSESPACESTHATWAS
THESTANDARDOFTHEDAYBUTITISNTONEIWOULDLIKETOFOLLOW

If the anonymous poster is wanting to move that organization in a new and
better direction, it might be well to understand why things are the way they
are before pushing in new directions.

Tom Murrell
(Who tires of creating a sig. each time)




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