Skip to content

Bookwatch: The Rants

October 19, 2010

At my first interactive job, I ended up spamming people regularly about the books I was reading. Hey, I’m a Cancer…We love attention, even if we’re crazy…especially if we’re crazy.

At one point, I was collecting together material for a personal website. This was before blogs…we were still using font tags back then because Netscape couldn’t do CSS quite right…what’s Netscape, you ask? Damn, I’m old…

I thought I’d pull this page out and reformat it slightly as a post. I’ve had to eliminate most of the links, as linkrot has killed the bulk of them.

You will notice many things. First, I can’t count worth beans. Third, I can’t make accurate technology predictions. But I look back on the things I got wrong, and still find a few things worth sifting out of the ashes, even if only to reming myself how quickly things can change. And, of course, I can milk a subject line for all it’s worth.

I wish I had the responses! Many arguments, jokes, flame wars, and insanity resulted from these emails. Good times.

Most of these are interactive books, with a few films and cd’s thrown in. Some I’ve read back-to-back, some were perused, and some languished after I gushed their praises. That’s just the way it goes, sometimes.

These are presented in reverse chronological order, with the last, anguished, shameful clutching at fame first, and the first hesitant steps of a fledgling webmonkey last, so you may experience me at my most inexperienced last. A twisted bit of logic, but strangely appropriate to the subject matter.

Most of these emails were written between 1997 and 2001. These aren’t all of them, as some have slipped into electronic oblivion on email servers that are probably being used now as doorstops.

Shout out to all the Immersant, Bowne Internet Solutions, Mountain Lake and Quadravision peeps. You rocked my world, corrected my mistakes, schooled me in web stuff, and watched me gesticulate wildly in public. Rock on.

17. Bookwatch the (almost) last

Sniff…I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…

This is it, the last time you will ever have to put up with this totally unnecessary, irksome, complete waste of time. The Last Bookwatch EVER. So, sit back and relax, knowing the torture is at last over.

(This was written right after the announcement that my former employers were closing down…it would be more accurate to say that this is the last time I could torture the poor souls within a work setting…)    😉

The Peopleware Papers: Notes on the Human Side of Software. Larry L. Constantine

The Peopleware Papers is a complete update of Larry Constantine’s classic Constantine on Peopleware, with 25 new chapters and an updated bibliography. Constantine’s insights into group dynamics, process, usability, and company culture are unique, highly readable, and useful. Whether you work in a company of 10, 100, or 1000 employees, this book is a kind of project management/methodology/company culture handbook.

Peer-to-Peer : Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies. Edited by Andrew Oram

I got really excited about peer-to-peer when I realized I could download episodes of Star Trek instead of having to get cable. 😉 I got even more excited when I realized that p2p is more than just file-sharing. Much, much, more…

Companies are now beginning to explore group collaboration, group authoring, workflow, and supercomputing using p2p. With essays written for a general audience from the major contributors in the field, ranging over security, accountability, and reliability of service, this book delivers the first comprehensive overview of a major new type of Internet application.

If you want to understand what some of the next steps in the IT revolution are going to be, pick this one up.

16. Bookwatch Spring Fever

It’s Markup Madness!!! Or is that Spring Fever?

Who cares?! Mwahahahaha!!! The hated, evil, snow god has been snuffed out by the glorious sunshine for another year, and it’s time to Code At The Beach!!

Vive le printemps!!

XML in a Nutshell : A Desktop Quick Reference. Elliotte Rusty Harold, W. Scott Means

Learning XML. Erik T. Ray

O’Reilly is a late comer to the topic of XML, but their first book-length offerings on the topic were worth the wait.

XML in a Nutshell is a practical, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-style reference to most of the XML-related technologies, and is well-organized and well-written. A big bonus is the Unicode character listings (at last!), as well as a chapter on XSL-FO.

Learning XML is what it claims: a solid, well-written introduction to XML, covering XML, DTDs, XSLT, and Xpath.

A major benefit of both books is the extended discussion on internationalization, usually nothing more than a brief aside in other books. They also do a great job of exploring the two seperate (but I feel interrelated) uses for XML: data exchange (via XML-RPC, Biztalk, Oracle, etc) and content authoring (via Docbook, XHTML, SVG, etc). Most tutorial/books just teach how to create ‘helloworld.xml’; Learning XML/in a Nutshell teach both good markup practises and the differences of approach for each style of XML document.

Two drawbacks: both books are tool-agnostic, so unless you already know how to use a parser or XML framework, you’ll need another book. The authors are also open source/Java/LAMP*-centric, so Microsoft gets a bad rap (in most cases, deservedly so) in these books.

*LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/PHP/Python

15. Bookwatch the Humbug

Good/Grief. Josh Koppel

I don’t know quite what to make of this book…it’s crazy, honest, vibrant, crude, and beautiful in it’s own small, twisted way. A collection of stories presented as a series of half-tone black and white photographs with short, to-the-punch narration, this book has to be experienced for full effect. Visit the author’s Web site for more cool stuff.

This is one of the few successful combined print/Web projects, and it demonstrates how far the medium can be pushed with good storytelling and kick-butt graphic design.

Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change. Kent Beck

This was a dare to myself…how far into this book could I read without throwing it against the wall and screaming, “That’s not the way to do it, you EEEDIOT!!!” Well, the book’s still in one piece and I’m impressed…it was better than I thought, and worth every cent paid twice over.

Programming (with modern circuit-based machines) has been around for fifty years…the concept of programming can be traced back to The Difference Engine (steampunk fans and Ada coders will know what I’m talking about), and still…no-one’s quite got it perfect. That’s a little unfair…software engineering has made huge gains in both productivity and quality over the last twenty years…but still…

Well, Extreme Programming is not the silver bullet. There may never be one. But XP has a lot of common sense wisdom about the act of building software, and how to manage teams effectively… This is a good book to buy simply for the ‘cold shower’ effect…yes, you can write software without thousands of pages of documentation, or a huge initial investment in planning, or separating architecture, usability, and testing from the coding, and this software will be high-quality and easy to maintain. (Reread that last sentence until you can say it out loud without snickering.)

That said, XP is not a lightweight methodology. It’s really hard to do right, because so many XP practices run counter to almost all accepted wisdom about software engineering.

One of the coolest things about this book is the bibliography. And guess what book crops up again? You guessed it…Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. Hahahahaha!! Edward Tufte’s read it. Jakob Nielsen’s read it. Kent Beck’s read it. Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton’s read it. I’ve read it (although that doesn’t mean as much).

Tales from the Tech Line : Hilarious Strange-But-True Stories from the Computer Industry’s Technical-Support Hotlines. David Pogue (Editor)

This is almost too funny and too sad at the same time…and this is coming from a guy who managed to format his DOS install floppies halfway through the install (my computer didn’t run so hot with only half of DOS 6.2 installed…not that it ran any better when I finally got the other half installed…go figure).

Now, of course, I’m much better at doing comput– @#%^*…ATA_CONNECTION_LOST…

Ahhh…oops…

Web Teaching Guide : A Practical Approach to Creating Course Web Sites. Sarah Horton

http://www.webteachingguide.com/

Sarah Horton is the co-author of, probably, the oldest online style guide in existence, the Yale CAIM Web style guide, and this is her first solo book on Web design, focussing on how to build sites that support classroom learning.

This is a good companion to the Yale CAIM guide, although it covers a fair amount of similar ground. What I like the most is the strong emphasis on content and the integration of practical and useful multimedia as primary activities in building any site. The focus on the Web as a communication medium is almost always lacking in the various style and how-to guides, which is sad.

14. Bookwatch Sells Out

I’m still dazed from the University and Trinity College Annual book sales…by the end I was staggering through the aisles begging for change, muttering, “Your quarter will help me buy this 50-volume encyclopedia…” 😉

Affiliate Selling: Building Revenue on the Web. Greg Helmstetter and Pamela Metivier

Warning: although this is a good book, the authors have a clear bias in that they are the co-founders and co-owners of the two most prominently-featured affiliate services in this book. Having said that…

This is a good introduction to affiliate selling, quickly becoming the next ‘big thing’ in both e-commerce and Web application development. Two things attracted me to this book:

  • the authors clear perception of affiliates moving away from acting like a retailer that treats the affiliate like a salesperson towards acting like a distributor/wholesaler that treats the affiliate like a retailer.
  • the strong emphasis on good content, strong editorial voice, and usability as the primary means of advertising as opposed to ‘branding as usual’ (you know, the kind of advertising that gets lampooned in Adbusters regularly).

The book also provides a good snapshot of the changing landscape of affiliate services (most companies are now offering information or Web-based services for sale as opposed to analogue goods only).

Embracing Insanity: Open Source Software Development. Russell C. Pavlicek

This is the third open source book I’ve ranted about (Open Sources and The Cathedral and the Bazaar were the previous ones), and by far the most accessible, if not a little dry. This is definitely aimed at the corporate IT manager and major software company looking to understand what open source is, and features a brief history of the movement, a good analysis of the advantages of open source development, and an ‘implementation guide’ for those looking to get involved.

Open source software, though still very rough around the interface, usability, and adequate documentation edges still provides more horsepower, stability, and security than most closed-source alternatives. Some of the most exciting and innovative software comes from open source: Apache (according to the latest most-servers-in-use poll: still the champion, my friend), Beowulf (honey, I shrunk the Cray), MySQL (not quite Oracle, but give them a few months), and Emacs (it is the kitchen sink).

Can you tell I’m biased? And I’m a Windows boy… 😉

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School & Get a Real Life & Education. Grace Llewellyn

About a year ago, Utne Reader published an issue whose main focus was life-long learning and education outside the classroom. One of the contributors’ articles was a ‘how-to’ in this regard, and this was the book he suggested reading, whether a teenager or not.

A career in IT means life-long learning. Unfortunately, there’s rarely a road map inside academia. The pace of technology literally outstrips curriculum and dogma.

Yes, The Teenage Liberation Handbook is geared specifically for teens, but the information and advice can be applied by anyone. It’s emphasis on a hands-on, learning-by-doing education and creative ways to apply knowledge make it especially relevant to those in new media and IT, where the trails of information are rarely marked by anything other than the footsteps of the person ahead of you.

All That You Can’t Leave Behind. U2

Finally, a worthy successor to Achtung, Baby…get thee to a record store.

13. Bookwatch Bebop

It’s told that upon his passing, the great jazz bassist, Charlie Mingus, was wandering around heaven when he ran into the legendary sax man, John Coltrane. While Coltrane was giving Mingus the grand tour they came upon this big cat, with a long white beard, rocking in the chair-of-ages. Mingus asked, “Say, Coltrane, who the hell is that?” Coltrane shook his head and frowned.

“I don’t know, but he thinks he’s Miles.”

Heh…I love that one…

I’m repeating the books below because they are now both available, and worth mentioning again. The jazz theme of this bookwatch will become evident with the new material at the bottom… 😉

XHTML 1.0 Language and Design Sourcebook: The Next Generation HTML. Ian Graham

XHTML 1.0 Web Development Sourcebook: Building Better Sites and Applications. Ian Graham

The HTML Sourcebook came out back in 1996, and I’ve never owned another book on HTML, before or since. Ian Graham’s well-written tutorials and extensive documentation, in an easy-to-read format, are the perfect choice for anyone wishing to know more about HTML. The XHTML books are about the new, XML-enabled version of HTML. Switching HTML from an SGML to XML-based language has produced many major and subtle differences in how Web pages are written. Having so much ground to cover, Graham separated the design/tutorials and the reference/documentation into two separate books.

The XHTML 1.0 Web Development Sourcebook wasn’t available until now, and it’s well worth the wait. This is the first real book I’ve seen that focuses on both the technical, information architecture and design of HTML. It includes chapters on technical design, interactive architecture and hypertext, project management, and overviews of core Internet protocols: IP, URI, HTTP, and CGI.

It’s also a wealth of book references, URL’s, and background information. The bibliography is worth the price of admission alone.

Graham is an educator, and thus, highly opinionated when it comes to ‘the right way’ to do things, and as such, these books may not be for everyone. But I’ve sworn by them for years (like my opinion matters), and think they’re worth a gander.

Ian Graham is well-suited to his subject: the author of four previous HTML Sourcebooks, The HTML Stylesheet Sourcebook, and The XML Specification Guide, Ian is no stranger to markup languages. He was also the Senior Instructional Technology Specialist at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Academic Technology.

Cowboy Bebop

“I think it’s time we blow this scene…Get everybody and their stuff together…OK, 3,2,1, let’s jam!”

The Japanese have been making their own distinct brand of animation, anime (ah-nee-may), for decades. It’s evolved into a billion-dollar industry that very nearly dwarfs Hollywood (Princess Mononoke, released in North America last year, made $160 million in it’s first three months of release in Japan; it took Titanic at least twice as long to climb to that figure). It’s also a unique art form that’s grown up with and has ties to new media, animation, and multimedia in the West.

Which is what makes Cowboy Bebop so much fun. A boisterous mix of spaghetti westerns, Get Smart, jazz, and deadpan humour all trussed up in an industrial-strength, carbon-alloy, sci-fi package, this weekly Japanese television show will have you laughing out loud.

The animators mix both traditional and computer-generated animation together to make the visuals of Cowboy Bebop truly unique. If you liked the look of Titan A.E., this one’s for you.

Of special note is the soundtrack: a mix of ’50s jazz, rockabilly, Europop and electronica, this soundtrack… R O C K S. (My fave: I Want it Back by The Seatbelts)

You can find Cowboy Bebop at finer indie subculture shops near you.

Warning, kiddies: those new to anime should note that it’s not just for kids; Cowboy Bebop contains at least as much violence as the typical episode of NYPD:Blue and some mild cussin’.

12. Patterns of Bookwatch

First it was The Three Amigos. Now it’s The Gang of Four. What’s next: the OOPs Quintet? (Note: only programmers will get the previous sentence.)

For the longest time, when surfing through the general computing or software engineering sections at The World’s Biggest Bookstore or The Toronto Computer Bookstore (alas, gone out of business since these emails were written), I’d see all these books on Patterns. Now, I can get very obsessive and neurotic about certain topics, and this one sounded interesting. It’s just that the books were filled with C++ and Smalltalk. 😦

So I looked up Patterns on that Internet thingy, and discovered an interesting fact. Most of the work on software patterns was derived from the building architect Christopher Alexander. That stuff, I could figure out.

Alexander’s books, The Timeless Way of Building and A Pattern Language describe his theory of patterns in more detail. The thing I like most about his books are the emphasis on design as an ongoing concern. Alexander feels that design is not a discrete process that stops when the first nail is struck: it continues throughout the lifetime of a building. He clearly states that design and construction are inseparable. In this his thoughts closely echo those of Stewart Brand in the book How Buildings Learn, a study of the subsequent alteration and redesigns of buildings long after they’ve been built. Both Alexander and Brand stress that buildings need to be designed to be livable and changeable by the people who live there. Although I’m still a little unsure as to how software engineers use the term, the two Alexander books provide an interesting window into how to manage the design of any system (a room, a building, even a city).

The book that (for me, at least) ties all this into software and the Internet is Patterns of Software: Tales from the Software Community by Richard Gabriel. The founder of Lucid, a failed software company specializing in AI and expert systems, Patterns of Software is an essay collection on Alexander’s patterns theories, and software in general.

The book that introduced the concept of Patterns to the software engineering world is Design Patterns by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides (hence the name Gang of Four, or GoF). This is heavy reading with lots of C, so I obviously haven’t read it, 😉 but for those with a programming bent, this is the ‘implementation’ book on patterns.

All are great reading (although Alexander’s books are really pricey). Having spent a large volume of my time on maintenance projects, finding books that vindicate my quirky way of building things for growth (as much as my feeble mind was able) was cool.

Sidenote stuff

From Bauhaus to Our House. Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe’s acidic attack on modern architecture is not for the squeamish. Although I feel that Wolfe is a boil on the ass of literature too long left unlanced, he voices many of the same concerns about making buildings livable.

Accidental Audience: Urban Interventions by Artists

This one is hard to find, but worth it. ‘Urban interventions’ is what a group of local Toronto artists dubbed their environmental art. Placing trophies randomly on the street, creating false advertising that sells nothing, and stuffing the bathrooms at City Hall with plants, these artists played with the meaning of ‘public spaces’ and art in general. This is a great book on street art and provides a slightly different take on how we perceive the buildings we live in and around. (Pages [alas, also gone now] or Book City is a good bet for this one.)

11. Make Mine Bookwatch

Reinventing Comics. Scott McCloud

http://www.scottmccloud.com/

In a previous bookwatch, I mentioned a great little book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. This has become sort of a cult classic in the graphic design and information architecture world. Well, Scott McCloud recently came out with a sequel, Reinventing Comics.

The first part of the book describes in detail the stuff I love…comics. The second part of the book describes my second love…the Internet. McCloud has taken a great interest in hypertext, and outlines how graphic design, storytelling, and commerce come together and provide the perfect medium for experimentation.

On Stone. Sumner Stone

Stone was (arguably) the first typeface designed exclusively on the computer. Sumner Stone provides an excellent introduction to typography and digital type by demonstrating the typeface he designed. This is a quick, fascinating read. You may never look at letters the same way again.

This book is really old, and was eventually remaindered and went out of print. I never had the opportunity to pick it up, but was pleasantly surprised to find some copies on sale at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

10. Bookwatch the irascible

If anyone can tell me what irascible actually means, I’d be grateful. I just like the sound of it.

Three books and one magazine this time.

XML: A Manager’s Guide. Kevin Dick

It’s not what you think. XML seems to be everywhere these days. IT companies that traditionally specialized in SGML (XML’s big brother) are scrambling to convert their tools while Microsoft has thrown a massive development effort into XML. So what is it, and why should you care? XML has applications in almost every aspect of Web publishing and information design and distribution, including: publishing distributed content, knowledge management, workflow, information aggregation, and data integration. XML: A Manager’s Guide is aimed at a general audience, and both managers and developers will find this book a quick and entertaining read. Especially cool is the ‘cookbook’ at the back of the book detailing the rough architecture for designing the applications mentioned above.

Designing Web Usability. Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen’s latest book is here, and it’s not cheap. I can’t say I like this book much. David Siegel (of Creating Killer Web Sites fame) is said to have once remarked, “The Web is ruined and I ruined it”. Nielsen, I suspect, is out for much the same effect. Where Siegel stressed flashy graphics, multimedia effects that could barely be achieved on a CD-ROM, and HTML tricks that effectively destroyed the integrity of the language (can you tell I’m a bit biased here?) Nielsen stresses navigation, information architecture, and low-graphic, content-rich sites.

I think both are full of hooey, and neither have the end-user’s needs in mind. But decide for yourself! Buy the book, or save yourself $75 and read the last two years of alertbox articles (at www.useit.com), because that’s what the content of the book actually is. Or you can read the Yale CAIM Web Style Guide, found at http://www.webstyleguide.com/ or the home page of one of its authors, http://www.patricklynch.net/. The Web Style Guide presents a well-balanced view, stressing that both information architecture, writing, and graphic design play integral and complimentary roles in site design. I actually find this to be the best book on Web publishing and design yet written. But what do I know? I just paid 75 bucks for something I could have read online. Go figure.

Practical Internet Groupware

This is a really cool book. Primarily concerned with how to use existing (and free or mostly free) Internet protocols and tools for group collaboration, this is an eye-opener. The author has been consulting in the field of group collaboration, knowledge management, and distributed workflow for a long time, and it shows. The first chapter is online at oreilly.com, and worth a peak.

Computer Arts Special: Web Design

This is on magazine racks right now, but don’t rush out to get it. The really cool thing about it is the first 5 pages, which has an article on Web site splash pages.

Splash pages have come a long way since the static, bandwidth-hogging 500K picture of the CEO’s pet goldfish. The article covers what the magazine thinks are the best of breed, and I found myself alternately rolling on the floor laughing or staring jealously, mouth agape. Many of these splash pages feature interactivity, and fuse themselves seamlessly into the site structure, as opposed to the ‘please load so I can click to the real home page’ splash pages of old.

9. Bookwatch the 2000th…and compliant

I will read comics until they pull the pulpy newsprint from my cold, dead fingers…and I probably won’t be finished the one I just bought. Comix 2000 is from a French publisher called L’Association, and is their contribution to the year 2000 celebrations across the globe. Featuring close to 400 artists spanning all continents and weighing in at a whopping…you guessed it…2000 pages, this book is a unique and powerful reading experience. It’s also expensive as hell ($100.00 Cdn). Perhaps the most interesting feature of this book is its built-in accessibility feature. The editors wanted to distribute the book world-wide, but couldn’t afford to translate the two-dozen-odd languages of the creators. So they asked all contributors to tell the story in pictures only. The perspectives in this book range wide, and I recommend picking it up. If you can afford it (now where did I put the Kraft dinner…)

OK, you are by now wondering what this rant has to do with Web design. Well, the connection between IT and comics is not as tenuous as you might think. Most of the thought leaders in information design (Donald Norman, Edward Tufte, Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, etc.) have all heard of a little book called Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud. This is the book for anyone wanting to explore the way images and words can be used to convey information.

“…to explore the way images and words can be used to convey information”? Hey, that sounds like Web sites!!

Exactly.

8. Bookwatch the tenthe

Normally, I actually read the books I talk about in these humble missives. In this case, however, I can’t because most haven’t been released yet. Still, these are books I’m waiting for with slavering anticipation.

True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier. Vernor Vinge

True Names was the name of a Vernor Vinge short story that was published in the early eighties. One of the first stories to deal with issues like online privacy and the use of ‘handles’, or assumed names in chat groups and BBS’s, the story became immensely popular with system administrators and people in the online community. Tor is reprinting the original story with essays and commentaries by major names in the IT, science fiction, and programming industries: Richard Stallman, John Markoff, Hans Moravec, Patricia Maes, Timothy May, and others. This one sounds really good.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary. Eric Raymond

The series of essays contained in this book were one of the key factors in Netscape’s decision to release the source code of their browser (which media pundits called “the shot heard round the world”). A passionate defense of Open Source software, The Cathedral and the Bazaar helped put Linux, Netscape, and many other Open Source offerings into the spotlight at large corporations. Many of the essays in this book are available for free over the Web, and make well-reasoned and valid business, social, and quality arguments for Open Source software. In the age of Linux, these are a must-read.

XHTML 1.0 Language and Design Sourcebook: The Next Generation HTML. Ian Graham

XHTML 1.0 Web Development Sourcebook: Building Better Sites and Applications. Ian Graham

The HTML Sourcebook came out back in 1996, and I’ve never owned another book on HTML, before or since. Ian Graham’s well-written tutorials and extensive documentation, in an easy-to-read format, are the perfect choice for anyone wishing to know more about HTML. The XHTML books are about the next-generation, XML-enabled version of HTML. Switching HTML from an SGML to XML-based language will produce many major and subtle differences in how Web pages are written. Having so much ground to cover, Graham separated the design/tutorials and the reference/documentation into two separate books.

Ian Graham is well-suited to his subject: the author of four HTML Sourcebooks, The HTML Stylesheet Sourcebook, and The XML Specification Guide, Ian is no stranger to markup languages.

7. Bookwatch the seventhe…or eighthe

… in the increasingly inaccurately-named trilogy. 😉

Steve McConnell, author of Code Complete and Software Project Survival Guide, has just published a new book, entitled After the Gold Rush: Creating a True Profession of Software Engineering. A frank and unsettling look at the software industry, McConnell argues that now is the time to define what engineering means to the software industry, and how it can help deliver projects…you guessed it…on time and on budget. His most controversial arguments surround the issue of accreditation and certification, and how more generalized, rigorous licensing of programmers will lead to a better end product.

Don’t let the fact that this book is from Microsoft Press fool you…it won’t crash your computer, is relatively jargon-free, and is good reading. Below is a cool quote.

With only about 40 percent of software developers holding computer science degrees and practically none holding degrees in software engineering, we shouldn’t be surprised to find people confused about the difference between software engineering and computer science. The distinction between science and engineering in software is the same as the distinction in any other field. Scientists learn what is true, how to test hypotheses, and how to extend knowledge in their fields. Engineers learn what is true, what is useful, and how to apply well-understood knowledge to solve practical problems. Scientists must keep up to date with the latest research. Engineers must be familiar with knowledge that has already proved to be reliable and effective. If you are doing science, you can afford to be narrow and specialized. If you are doing engineering, you need a broad understanding of all the factors that affect the product you are designing. Scientists don’t have to be licensed because they are chiefly accountable to other scientists. Engineers do have to be licensed because they are chiefly accountable to the public. An undergraduate science education prepares students to continue their studies. An undergraduate engineering education prepares students to enter the workforce immediately after completing their studies.

~ Steve McConnell
After the Gold Rush: Creating a True Profession of Software Engineering

6. Bookwatch the fifthe

…or maybe the fourthe or sixthe, I can’t remember anymore.

Tim Berners-Lee, head of the World Wide Web Consortium and the inventor of the Web, has just written a book, Weaving the Web. The book is subtitled The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor, which is an accurate description of the book’s aims: setting history straight, describing the usefulness and purpose of Web technology, and the future directions the W3C is planning.

The book is a quick, entertaining, and relatively jargon-free read that dispels many myths (the first Web server ever was running in 1990) and gives explanations for many of the technology paths the W3C is now charting. His views on what hypertext is and how the Web can enable us to work and play collaboratively in the future are what make this, IMHO, required reading.

5. Bookwatch the fourthe

This time featuring the amazing guide to the interactive revolution, The Interactive Book by Celia Pearce. This is a good top-to-bottom review of new media, with a history and exploration of the mechanics of the medium. A really cool read, with an incredible bibliography (this is worth the price of admission alone!).

4. Bookwatch the thirde

Once again, a new book has invaded the IT market. This time, it’s The XML Specification Guide, written by Ian Graham and Liam Quinn. This is an annotated version of the official XML specification, with a good tutorial. Ian Graham has been a markup language guru on the web for many years, and this book is highly recommended.

Ian Graham was the Senior Instructional Technology Specialist at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Academic Technology, and has produced some of the best client-side technology tutorials available on the net. Of special interest to anyone looking to unlock the vagaries of HTML is his HTML 4.0 Sourcebook, the fourth edition of his HTML Sourcebook series. This is the best book on HTML (IMHO) on the market. I grew up with this book. No, really, I am grown up. Really.

3. Bookwatch the seconde

Once again, I feel it necessary to inflict my blind literary criticism aspirations on the masses.

O’Reilly just came out with an amazing history of the Open Source software movement called, surprisingly enough, Open Sources. If you want to know a little of the background history of the Internet, Unix, and the software that is poised to become a serious threat to Redmond, read this book. Larry Wall’s (creator of Perl) essay is worth the price of admission alone.

The Halloween Documents – the only (unofficially) published response from Microsoft to Open Source software
http://www.opensource.org/halloween/index.html

2. Bookwatch the firste

A week or two ago, Philip and Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing hit the shelves. Written by Philip Greenspun, an MIT prof and web services provider, it talks about many of the issues and things we try to implement: personalization, database-driven sites, and the marketing/architecture/design of said sites. Although very controversial, he makes a lot of valid points about the industry. There is something for every department to agree/disagree with in this one.

Best part: you don’t have to fork out $75 like me. The entire text is online, along with the source code he uses for many of his products.

http://philip.greenspun.com/panda/

1. Shameless Plugola Department

Below you will find a link to one of the oldest, and IMHO, the best style guide available on the Net, the Yale CAIM (Center for Advanced Instructional Media) Web Style Guide. It covers information architecture, basic graphic design, and includes a wonderfully detailed bibliography. This style guide is now available in a revised third edition book.

web link
http://www.webstyleguide.com/

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: