[nSLUG] Re: tech books in Halifax?

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Wed Oct 17 23:42:00 ADT 2007

Jeff wrote:

> Professors don't buy books, they get given them to "review". Thus
> when you get for free 5 text books a year...
> ....
> And "text books" are established truths / state of the world kind of
> things.. Interesting things happen in papers, 

Well, yeah, I knew that.  Cutting edge stuff for the specialist comes
in journal papers or pre-prints of F2F.  But there is a whole category
of serious books between textbooks and journal papers.

Say you're an accomplished programmer but you want t know what all this
"neural networks" stuff is about.  You probably don't go straight to
the journals.  You read the two 1986 PDP volumes and the
Neurocomputing series.

If you're a fellow at the Santa Fe institute or you read all the
papers coming from there and correspond with the authors, you don't
need books.  But if you want to know what the talk of "self
organizing" or "evolutionary" systems is about, you may want to read
John Holland's _Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems_ or
Kauffman's _The Origins of Order_.

Books like the above-mentioned are "technical" books but neither
textbooks nor journal papers.  They aren't relevant to routine system
administration of the syntax and gotchas of a particular language.
But if, in an extensive academic community, there's no place where you
can browse shelves, discover them and browse the books themselves,
there's a big hole in the academic community.

The agrument for good bricks and mortar bookstores vs on-line book
shopping is similar to that of card catalogs vs computerized catalogs
in libraries, the more so if, in the latter case, the stacks are
closed and the digital catalog is the only access.

Or maybe I'm just being picky.

- Mike

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^

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