Metaphor Revisited 
Author Message
 Metaphor Revisited

Mitch Bradley writes,

> To summarize the analogy:
>     All vendors use 6-sided bolts except one who uses 5-sided bolts.
>     Committee invents a 30-sided wrench and calls it a "sponge"

The dictionary defines a metaphor as "a figure of speech in which a
term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally
applicable in order to suggest a resemblance". Normally I would not
explain a metaphor -- but let me try to do so in this case:

There are times in which a group of people have been doing things in
different ways (like using different sizes and shapes of nuts and
bolts). They are at a crisis state, and it seems obvious to anyone
observing that it is in their collective best interest to agree on a
common way of doing things. They can either pull together and produce
a common size for fasteners and tools [one would assume that they'd
pick the best of existing practice in each area for their standard] --
or they can insist on their right to each have different size
fasteners [which entails the use of unsatisfactory tools].

It is irrelevant whether there is one 5-sided nut person or several --
or whether different people play the role at different times. What is
relevant is that the approach is to try to make *both* 5-sided and 6-
sided nuts standard -- rather than picking one. And that the result of
this is a weaker standard.

It is ironic that Mitch Bradley would object to this metaphor -- since
most of the information that I have about the approach that the ANSI
team takes comes from *his* postings to this newsgroup. I can think
of several examples he has given us of vendors who have threatened to
walk out if they don't get their way -- and not a single example of a
vendor who has agreed to change his system to bring it in line with
others. Even more ironic is the fact Mitch's message, which proports
to be a rebuttal, provides further confirmation.

In another posting, Bradley writes:

> Forth is a tool, not a Holy Grail.  Utility of tools is greatly
> enhanced by standardization, and standardization involves compromise.

I agree entirely -- and my metaphor came up when I tried to explain
the difference between the bright future that Forth could enjoy and
what seems to be going on in the standardization attempt.

Apparently we disagree about who must do the compromising: the people
who have been making various shaped nuts or the mechanics who will be
expected to put up with 30-sided wrenches.

                                                  John J Wavrik

                                                  Univ of Calif - San Diego
                                                  La Jolla, CA  92093

Tue, 22 Dec 1992 14:06:30 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

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