Monday, January 13, 2014

The Little Changes that Last

In going through HL7 ballots, especially those developed using Word instead of XML, I find some old friends.  Bits of boilerplate that didn't exist ten years ago but which I now see in ballot after ballot (some of which I wrote, others that I suggested changes to), fragments of text which sound quite familiar used in places that I didn't expect.  Even document properties which don't really make sense except when you know the history.

Knowing where these pieces came from and why they exist is knowledge of very limited use, and it really only comes with longevity.  Some of this stuff goes by without hardly a question, but I remember when it was hotly contested, and widely discussed.  It seemed as if the sky would fall if we did not get this right.

A decade later, the sky is still (mostly) in one piece, and these little things have become part of the organizational culture.  Remember that next week when you go through reconciliation.  In a decade or so, nobody will remember who wrote those lines originally, only that they are good, and should be used again. Nobody will recall what the debates were or what the alternatives were.  So get it right, but don't overdo it. If it isn't right, it will get fixed later, and if it is right, all we will do is remember that it was right, not necessarily why. Save remembering why for The Historian, or The Venerated Ancient.



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