Re: Are best practices standards?

Subject: Re: Are best practices standards?
From: bbatorsk -at- admin -dot- nj -dot- devry -dot- edu
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, susanh -at- cardsetc -dot- com -dot- au
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 09:21:54 -0400


Exactly. The key phrase here is
>but all the time, I am measuring a practice against the outcomes
>it must achieve.

Whether we use or need standards is really a red-herring. And there are
some herring fisherfolk here. The real issue is measurement. The
"Platonists" and the empiricists are "splitting hairs" because the
"Platonists" accept there are standards.

The important issue, the one addressed by the useful "texts" is really
whether or how we test or measure the effectiveness of these standards.
Not to drag the "Platonists" out of their caves, but isn't that what
Hackos' book, for instance, is all about? It is not a way to fix
standards, but a way to test them, to institute a process of creativity in
documentation management. Management should not be a way to stifle
creative writing, but it sometimes is--witness the horror stories, real and
"Platonic," that are recounted here. Management is the issue Hackos
addresses, it seems to me. Her work is an attempt to institute creativity
in the management of a creative process. The result sought is an approach
such as you describe, Susan: "best practices" get spread or, when the "best
practice" becomes ineffective, changed. The creative technical writer
(redundancy here: all writing is creative) is empowered not paralyzed.

If we can discuss the management/measurements methods Hackos and others
address, we might do more than split hairs, I think. Maybe others feel
differently, but as a writer I would rather have a manager arguing her
methods and results, rather than a philosopher king telling me to "just do
it." My creativity re-creates the world, and would be decidedly unwelcome
in a platonic republic, where poets are excluded because they are tied to
the "illusions" of this world.

Just have to add a word on Ayn "Randyism": Creativity I think has suffered
and will always suffer under the randy crypto-fascism of the Philosopher
King in a management position. If a writer, "just doing it," fails, the
manager has responsibility and must be held accountable. "Philosopher
Kings," however, are untouchables and want to keep it that way.


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