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[xml-dev] RE: Things are not what they seem

At 11:22 AM 9/21/2001 -0500, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>Programming has become a trade in some aspects.  Imagination is needed but
>the shape of the thing to be created is known; we need
>imagination in the details and the willingness of the
>person to learn the exotic things on the job or at home.
>Insight over vision...

For a lot of XML work, I have to agree with Len.  When I'm looking for 
writers on XML subjects, insight (and the ability to communicate that 
insight) is the main thing I'm seeking.  Similarly, if I have project 
that's already well-scoped out, people with imagination for the details are 
going to do great work rather than redesign everything.

At the same time, I'm worried that valuing insight over vision causes some 
serious problems, perhaps especially in this (XML) community.  "How to use 
XML" is something we've barely begun to figure out, and preferring insight 
to vision is likely to keep us on the same narrow set of paths.  This isn't 
a trade as well-understood as electrical work or plumbing, and electricians 
and plumbers have all kinds of opinions about how best to do things.

A lot of people in XML (and in Web development) seem to think that the W3C 
is where the 'vision thing' takes place, not realizing that alternatives, 
diversity, and even failed projects are important to making technology 
work.  So while I definitely value insight, I also hope that people with 
insight can eventually make the leap to vision.  Vision is a much more 
difficult thing for communities and companies to deal with, but those costs 
are frequently worth bearing.

If I was hiring programmers, I'd be looking for a mix of insight and 
vision, not just insight.  (And I hope my writers have a similar mix as well.)

Simon St.Laurent
Associate Editor
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.