Why books are way too outdated


Other than this image, I won't even dig into the whole ecological killing trees aspect of books! Just had to mention it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Kind of continuing from From God's Debris to data loss... Why people love forgetting so much?...

I really hate books.

I hardly ever read 'em, for the longest time. I think that Debris one could be the only one I've read (from beginning to end) in this century. And only because it was a less than 100 pages pdf. Now, for someone who claims to be able to get a phd in 1 year (given enough resources) and who keeps on writing and rambling incoherently about so many topics, how can this make any sense? Do I write for nobody to read? You may ask.

When people write a book, they / we usually have to keep 2 things in mind: reaching out to a significant number of other people (a.k.a. sales) and being as much self contained as possible. In other words, the book should always explain itself for the target audience it wants to be read. As much as possible, it must not rely on any outside concepts.

This makes every single book into an extraordinary effort to fulfill those 2 things, which are widely based on a more than outdated ink on paper technology. Okay, maybe there are uses for it still, both for planning (such as in making UX) or even taking notes, among many other things... But that doesn't mean it's optimal or even desirable.

Even more: we already have so much knowledge to be shared and learned, among with enough people willing to produce content, that who's to say a single author is a better reference than many? Yeah, there are other medias which brings more art than just writing into teaching. Writing is, after all, just a form of art.

For now, let's get back to basics...

Indexing and referencing

Or searching and linking, for more modern terms. There's a huge amount of time wasted while writing books for making data easy to find in them. The more technical the book, the bigger their index. Does anyone still go through printed mapbooks or do we use gps? Honestly...

As for linking, nobody wants to read a book that have 4 footnotes per page on reference for further reading. It's completely counter productive. Yet, that's how wikipedia works.

You see... Outdated. And those are just two basic points. Here's another one:

Financing and profiting

The book must be well structured and have at least some considerable amount of pages, you know, so you can stick them together and make enough weight on its own. Really. Weight. What's important here isn't data, information or content. It's weight. There's a range of accepted size for insightful books. No grown up will take a book with 10 pages seriously - it's a book for kids at best. Specially if it's illustrated. Right?

So, even if the idea you want to pass on is insanely succinct and well written, you won't get anywhere if you don't spend more time developing it. Explaining it. Excruciatingly. Even if you're only using words from the dictionary or your "common sense", which might be broader than whatever is in an encyclopedia, for whatever it's worth.

And after all that work into filling up a book, you have to get a living. Who's going to write a freaking 300 pages book, filled with research and years of production spent without getting something in return? I tell you who. Almost nobody. Even whoever have enough resources to live with nothing else during all that time will not do it because, well, it's not really about the money most of the times. It's about, as I said earlier, reaching out. No money feedback means very little reach. That's all.

As for the rest of this post, well, I'll continue later. Eventually.

Telling a story

  • How?



Technical writing

  • Why?

Keeping content updated and versioning

  • What?!

Too long; Didn't read

Just go watch good videos. And, when you need to dig deeper, the rest of the written internet is your friend. Podcasts, blogs, forums, IRC channels, audiobooks even. Any kind of printed book (including kindle) is really last outdated resource, if you can't find good summaries / transcriptions of them online nor an audiobook. And that's just something which didn't happen in my humble experience during the XXI century.