Tuesday, May 31


"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from."

Standards can be a blessing, or a curse, or both. They are an outgrowth of a kind of problem that occurs when dealing with people.

Basically: when dealing with people you need some things which do not change so that you can deal with the "important stuff" (which itself varies depending on who and what you are dealing with). And  "standards" are the stuff that is held still.

Put differently: standards are useful at the interfaces between where one person is doing work and another person is doing work.

Also: standards that have been "designed" tend to be rather useless - what you want are standards which have evolved for dealing with problems similar to what you are dealing with. (Sometimes this includes "designed standards" but usually when that happens only a small part of the design is relevant. Or, at least, that has been my experience in the context of computing. This says something sad about the usefulness of a lot of people hours. But it also says something about how you should expect to be working if you want to get something useful done.)

Meanwhile: discussions about standards can become rather acrimonious. In my experience, this tends to be a mix of personality flaws in people holding the discussions and irrelevant wasted motion in the standards themselves.

Related is probably the cliche'd concept of "if you want something done right, you'll need to do it yourself" and its close [imperative] relative "take some responsibility". People tend to be frustrating to deal with, but that is often as much a fault of the person getting frustrated as it is a fault of the people they are getting frustrated with. Remedies which ignore either side of this kind of problem tend to fail.

It's often best to try to fail early so you can learn from your mistakes. But ...

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