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

On 8/28/13 2:38 PM, Michael Sokolov wrote:
> 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.

I would phrase it differently.

Standardization lets (most of) us be stupid.

You can decide whether that's good - "democratizing door installation!" 
- or bad - "ugly doors all the same all over".

In the long run, however, I can't argue that encouraging ever more 
stupidity is a good thing.  Ruskin, Morris, and Alexander all do a great 
job of making clear that the key social roles of the expert are to teach 
and listen rather than demand conformity to expert decisions.

Not having to think about _everything_ can be convenient.  As I noted 
earlier, standardized pipe diameters and threading rules make it easy to 
buy and use pipe, whether you're an expert or an amateur.  However, as 
standardization increases, so do limitations.

(I have a pre-hung back door that was hung here a few years ago by 
experts.  Sooner or later I'll be replacing it, because it's not a very 
good door.  Functional is the nicest thing I can say for it.  I also had 
some experts install a railing today from standardized parts.  Most of 
it will vanish in the next few months because the parts look and feel 

> 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*.

I do many things in amateurish ways, but I recognize, for example, that 
the feeling of accomplishment I used to get from assembling IKEA 
furniture was a sad joke compared to the feeling of accomplishment I get 
from actually making something.

Honestly, lessening the expert/amateur distinction would make a lot of 
these questions just vanish, though.

Simon St.Laurent

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