Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tech manuals are DOOMED!

I have loved reading for almost as long as I can remember but, with very few exceptions, I do not like reading tech books.  In general I find them to be rambling, poorly organized in relation to my learning process and quite frankly, boring.

With the wealth of information available on the Internet these days I am far more likely to reach for a my mouse and the nearest Web browser than my bookshelf.  Search engines offer a faster, more seamless means of finding the data I want, the Web itself contains pretty much anything I need to search for (unless it is proprietary or really obscure) and the information is typically available in bite-sized chunks - stackoverflow answers / blog posts / public API docs / ..

So why would I pick up such a book, even an electronic one?  Answer: I don't.

The few tech books that I do actually read do not follow the classic pattern of attempting to progressively introduce the reader to the subject matter over a series of long, dry chapters.

Instead they offer up a smorgasbord of insights into various aspects of the subject matter, in no particular order, allowing me to pick and choose my intellectual meals.

The books I choose invariably offer a deeper / broader level of insight than I can expect to find from the aforementioned online sources:  What are the aspects of the subject that I should be considering?  How should I approach key problems?  How are things conventionally done and why?

And in general I choose to read them away from the keyboard or at the very least away from my screen.  I read them like a book.  I read a few pages and absorb the knowledge they impart.  And later, when I am sat at my computer, that knowledge may have percolated through my consciousness and made the right connections to influence my work.

If I want information right now, I'll just Google it.

The tech books on my shelf quake in fear.  And well they should...

And it is done.  One week to the day since my revelation, I have cleared out my bookshelf.  Quite literally: 32 of 50 tech books gone to the used bookstore, a whole shelf cleared.  What remains are such repositories of wisdom as 'Effective Java 2nd Edition', 'Eloquent JavaScript' and '24 Deadly Sins of Software Security'.

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