Tuesday, September 2, 2008

OTR: Where Did All the Computer Books Go?

So here's a new feature, "OTR". OTR means "Off the Record", which will be does for topics which have little or nothing to do with records management. Might be opinion, might be a musing... whatever. I've had a few of these along the road, but I'll label them going forward to match my other posts.

I have a reading habit. Actually, I have a book-buying habit. I chain-read. I'll have three to five books started at any given time and often never get around to finishing most of them. I'll glean out some interesting stuff, set the book aside, and pick something else up. I generally will pick up a bit of mind candy (something in the Tom Clancy genre) for trips away from home. I'll see an interesting business book, and give that a run on the airplane. Lately, I've been dabbling in history books -- several on Lincoln and more on Chicago history, even picking up a paper-bound set of Bessie Louise Pierce's History of Chicago.

But I've always been a sucker for computer how to books. Lately, it has been various test-prep and "body of knowledge" books for some certifications that I'm considering in my new areas of responsibility. If nothing else, they point out the competencies that I need to strive for.

Anyway, when I stroll to the back corner where you find the computer books these days (usually hard by the business books), I've noticed fewer and fewer linear feet of computer books. And the ones that are there are looking long in the tooth. You get a smattering of program-specific manuals, plus a few books for various computing languages, a bit of theory, some security stuff, and a couple shelves of general computing books. Ten years ago, they didn't have enough shelf space! Could it be that we're all experts now? Or is do-it-yourself programming a thing of the past? Or are all the answers on the Web?

I'm guessing that the dot com bust has a lot to do with the relative shrinkage here. The demand for people to learn Web-programing and website design from a book has declined. You get trained more formally now.

But it is still amazing.

Back to thinking about cloud computing and this whole "2.0" thing. Steve Bailey's book should be on its way from the UK any day now. More to come.

No comments: