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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Online Communities

Eric.    (01)

For more on errata, here is a copy of something that I still have to get 
in Fleabyte.    (02)

Henry    (03)

*October 24, 2002*
Eckel on how to publish a textbook    (04)

This scribe was persuaded by a number of people that one of the finest, 
if not the finest textbook for studying the Java programming language is 
Bruce Eckel's "Thinking in Java." I bought a copy two days ago, but with 
a Java midterm exam last night, I didn't have a chance to crack it open yet.    (05)

Not that I did have to buy it. First, I have a prescribed textbook for 
the course; secondly, Eckel's book is available from the author's 
Web.site in glorious HTML. So why did I buy it? One reason: I have come 
to loathe my textbook. It is one of those poorly edited, dolled-up 
affairs full of distracting features that publishers and teachers 
believe students may like. Verbose, confusing; tables and code on blue 
and grey backgrounds; blue squirls to decorate the page numbers. And 
promises not kept: On at least two places, Lambert and Osborne's 
"Fundamentals of Java," 2nd Ed., published by Thomson Course Technology, 
refer to a CD that supposedly comes with the book but shines by its absence.    (06)

Anyway, with the midterm behind me, this is the pause that refreshes and 
I began browsing Eckel's effort. Winning features: paper without glare, 
decent font size, no colorful razzmetazz.  Straight down to the business 
at hand. And really heartwarming was something I found in the preface, 
some most interesting observation. Quoting Eckel:    (07)

"A majority of folks thought I was very bold or a little crazy to put 
the entire thing up on the Web. 'Why would anyone buy it?' thy asked. If 
I had been of a more conservative nature I wouldn't have done it, but I 
really didn't want to write another computer book in the same old way. I 
didn't know what would happen but it turned out to be the smartest thing 
I've ever done with a book.    (08)

"For one thing, people started sending in corrections. This has been an 
amazing process, because folks have looked into every nook and cranny 
and caught both technical and grammatical errors, and I've been able to 
eliminate bugs of all sorts that I know would have otherwise slipped 
through. People have been simply terrific about this, very often saying 
'Now, I don't mean this in a critical way ...' and then giving me a 
collection of errors I'm sure I never would have found. I feel like this 
has been a kind of group process and it really has made the book into 
something special.    (09)

"But then I started hearing 'OK, fine, it's nice you've put up an 
electronic version, but I want a printed and bound copy from a real 
publisher.' I tried very hard to make it easy for everyone to print it 
out in a nice looking format but that didn't stem the demand for the 
published book. Most people don't want to read the entire book on 
screen, and hauling around a sheaf of papers, no matter how nicely 
printed, didn't appeal to them either. (Plus, I think it's not so cheap 
in terms of laser printer toner.) It seems that the computer revolution 
won't put publishers out of business after all. However, one student 
suggested this may become a model for future publishing: books will be 
published on the Web first, and only if sufficient interest warrants it 
will the book be put on paper. Currently, the great majority of all 
books are financial failures, and perhaps this new approach could make 
the publishing industry more profitable."    (010)

Thomson Course Technology, are you listening? [/vE/]    (011)

Eric Armstrong wrote:    (012)

>Having just visited the O'Reilly errata page for Ruby in a Nutshell,
>I can tell you that they walk their talk.
>In addition to the "author-verified errata" (currently an empty page),
>there is a page of "errata submitted by readers", and a form for
>adding anything new that you find. Very nice.
>Jack Park wrote:
>>" The Internet exists to improve communication. Communities can grow
>>anywhere communication occurs. "
>>" Truisms or not, those statements have tremendous implications. Their
>>adherents see a commercial Web site less as a brochure and more as an
>>opportunity to communicate with customers. They consider those who run a
>>television fan site not as copyright infringers but as a community of fans.
>>They think in terms of conversations and relationships. Cultivate a
>>community, and you'll attract eyeballs and ears willing to read and to
>>listen to your message. Encourage discussion, and you'll attract people
>>willing to share their own messages. "
>>XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
>>Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.
>    (013)