[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: PG: Hackers and Painters

Eric Hanchrow <offby1@blarg.net> writes:

> Of course not, but I suspect the analogy between programmers and
> prose writers is imperfect.  The difference is that code can have
> subtle bugs, whereas prose cannot.

I think that prose can have subtle bugs.  Consider a construction that
I've been seeing with increasing frequency:

   All brands of ice cream are not created equal!

Oh, is that so?  Is it really true that we can assert that any member
of the set brands-of-ice-cream is different from other members of the

Or, is it more likely that the author really means:

   Not all brands of ice cream are created equal!

But I think the point you're really getting at here is well-taken: the
consequence of a strange bit of prose is quite different, which is why
your next question is so interesting:

> Perhaps a more interesting question would be "Do the best lawyers
> draft contracts in pairs", since I imagine that a legal document
> *can* have subtle "bugs", which would be easier to spot with two
> sets of eyes.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they do.

Having worked with attorneys on a fair number of issues, I have seen
that attorneys frequently do write this way.  In fact, speech writers
do the same thing.  Someone will draft something, or someone will
start talking, while someone else is writing.  People interject
phrases and sentences, and the whole things just flows quickly.  All
the while, other people are listening and thinking about what is being
implied, checking facts, offering citations, etc.

Matt Curtin, CISSP, IAM, INTP.  Keywords: Lisp, Unix, Internet, INFOSEC.
Founder, Interhack Corporation +1 614 545 HACK http://web.interhack.com/
Author of /Developing Trust: Online Privacy and Security/ (Apress, 2001)