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Re: [xml-dev] Do you enjoy neighborhoods where every house looksthe same?

On 08/28/2013 10:12 AM, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> On 8/28/13 9:58 AM, Bill Kearney wrote:
>> There's nothing limiting of the design that standardized components
>> brings to the process.  Rather those help eliminate time wasted on
>> infrastructure details, freeing that up for customization of
>> human-facing aspects.  It would be insane to have to drill down into the
>> nitty-gritty of plumbing pipe diameters, wire gauges or dimensional
>> aspects of lumber and sheet materials.
> At what level does the standardization cease?  Pipe diameters are 
> standardized, as are threads.  But if pipe length was standardized, 
> you'd have some incredibly ugly looking houses or weirdly misplaced 
> fixtures.  Life without ways to cut is pretty miserable.
> Markup itself is standardization - syntax standardization.  Think of 
> it as setting the gauges, diameters, and threads.
> Markup language standardization ranges from defining entire assembly 
> lines to smaller pieces more like the electrical box I mentioned.  
> Those come with various benefits and costs.
I recently installed a new front door in my house. When you buy a door, 
there are a lot of choices to be made: what will it look like, how many 
windows, what material, what size?  Some of these you have more or less 
freedom to choose as you please (within aesthetic constraints that are 
somewhat arbitrary): others, like size, you can vary if you choose, but 
at a much greater cost (reframing the entire door, knocking down walls, 

I chose to buy a pre-hung door from a factory that manufactures these. I 
used a manufacturer that was suggested to me by a guy who helped me at 
our local lumber yard. I realized from looking on the web that there are 
many other manufacturers, but I eliminated all of them, and the wider 
array of choices that they represented, at an early step in the process, 
because I was desperate for help in understanding the bewildering 
measuring required.  Choosing a pre-hung door (which comes with hinges 
installed, a lightweight frame, knob holes pre-drilled, and a threshold 
with weatherstripping already attached) also limited my freedom to be 
creative considerably.  I probably couldn't use a random antique 
doorknob since the hole wouldn't have been in the correct location.

Many "choices" regarding the appearance and design of the door, which, 
given a non-industrialized society, I would have been forced to make 
myself, were made for me, by virtue of standardization. Pre-hung 
factory-made doors only come in certain sizes, for example.

Even with all this standardization to help me, it was barely possible 
for me, a sometime amateur carpenter, to install the door and get it to 
swing freely and close neatly, but I was able to do that.  As I say, 
there were some compromises: I'm not totally thrilled with the 
appearance of the aluminum threshold, and I think if I had taken more 
care I might have been able to get a different one I would have liked 

What can we conclude from this?  Standardization is neither good nor 
bad: what it gives is the ability to achieve a passable result without 
diving too deeply into details, but of course it takes away the ability, 
or makes it less natural, to sweat those details when you want to.  
Everyone has to choose for themselves (if they don't have the decision 
thrust on them) which area of endeavor they will be an expert in, and 
which they will leave to others.  Experts will never be content with 
standardized solutions in their area of expertise -- often *they are the 
ones defining the standards*.

But amateurs tend to appreciate standards that can enable their 
participation, in an amateurish way, in fields of endeavor in which they 
would otherwise be incompetent.  Is that bad?  I don't think so: I saved 
some money, I have a feeling of great accomplishment, and *I have new 
front door*.


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