The “Computers” Section of the Bookstore

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  1.  There came a moment when the Internet was ‘just’ ubiquitous enough in my routine and ‘just’ fast enough for my preferences when I stood in a book store and realised I didnt need to buy a book for anything more than fiction. Now I own a kindle and the delay between thinking of owning a book and its ownership is less than a minute ( for a given value  of that book being on Amazon ) and I have started to reclaim my shelf space at home.  I should , and am told , feel sad that some great ‘thing’ is being lost. The way I see it, I have  gained more and lost little.  Thanks for making me think about my books again 

  2. One B&N here in San Diego has NO computer books, while another is fully stocked.
    Like anything else in tech, this subject has many components, and a full set of tradeoffs. Analyzing the subject requires making a list (on your choice of paper or a computer. 🙂  One of the remaining clear advantages of books is with “tutorial” books, which take you through a self-paced introduction to, say, learning how to write apps for Android or iOS.  This kind of experience just isn’t anywhere as convenient on a screen (unless you have multiple monitors.)  But that’s one of the last advantages.  
    However, there’s no guarantee information on the computer is going to be updated either.  So much of it is abandoned because the author has moved on.  And online forums are littered with stale or no-longer-relevant information that you must spend the mental energy to determine that (and exposing yourself to things you didn’t yet know you didn’t need to know. 🙂  While online tech info has potential advantages, “information management” is still widely ignored and results in things online just being a different kind of mess.  (sigh)  
    Looking things up using Google results in things not in order of date, irrelevant information, pitches for products using keywords in your query, and the most horrible thing of all, there is no guarantee you formed your search term optimally, and because you didn’t use a certain keyword, you’ll miss excellent resources.  This is my area of expertise and I could go on, but I think we get the idea.  Tradeoffs are frustrating!  he he

    1. Totally agreed on the difficulty of information management; you’re right, publishing online is not a cure-all, but I do see it as removing one barrier in the process in keeping information updated and easily searchable/accessible. Whether the author has the motivations to do that is another matter entirely.
      That said, books do have an intrinsic filter of quality to them: if you take the trouble to write a book and get it published, you probably have more authority than the random forum poster or Stack Overflow response (on average). Curation continues to be a challenge for web communities – I’m thinking of  Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Slashdot, etc. – so maybe that alone will let books live for another hundred years.

  3. I think buying any books on computers (in dead tree format) these days is ironic.  I end up reading most books on my iPod touch and my laptop.  I really like being paper-free.

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