No, I'm not talking about just interpreting the symbols that build our alphabet. I'm talking about knowing your way around a book.

We read all the time. Those of us that are drawn to texts just as moths to fire, are sometimes lost amidst the myriads of texts that we can access today through the Internet. Millions of blogs and newspapers, a handful of them interesting and useful, and yet enough to fill every day of our lives because of the sheer amount of material that's published all the time. It brings upon us a lot of noise and we are the ones that have to filter it so we are left only with what's the most useful and valuable of all of it.

Why can't we just return to books? Some time ago (not that much anyway, I remember it from when I was a child) there was no internet. No everyday flood of information, no Google Reader. Just magazines that came around once every fifteen days, and that gave us the time to absorb all of the knowledge that they could give us. And then there were books.. those time travelers that could reach us from centuries ago in order to teach us important facts and knowledge that the human race thought was important enough to republish in order to make it available to future generations.

Of course, this was not a perfect filtering process. There are books that reached us from a long time ago that I could think are worthless, because they were promoted by the powers at the time, and are still there to do so. But what could the Internet add to this process that improved it? The wisdom of the crowds. As the Internet is an environment were we all can have our say, we all help to produce knowledge and to filter what's worth from what's not.

Therefore, why would we return to books? We must, because they still are the true recipients of ideas. We could read a statement in a blog (perhaps this one), and think that it's right. But the effort that it takes to do a brief statement is very little, and what it takes to write an entire book is a whole other league. That effort also helps so we can filter those ideas that are useful from those that aren't.

I feel stunned by people who believe that books are not worth the effort, or who believe that they can become the best professionals they can be without ever reading a full book, just absorbing passively the knowledge that our educational system imprints on them. And I feel sorry for them.. for they are the ones that will be left behind..

Disconnect for a while. Read a book.

So, can we also use the wisdom of the crowds so we can get the best books out of the enourmous amount that are published every day? Yes we can. And we should. Not to merely dismiss the filter that editorials also provide, but to enhance it.

Ok, so this post has only one goal: to recommend you the latest book from Frederick Brooks, the author of "The Mythical Man-Month". It's named "The design of design, essays from a computer scientist". Go ahead, download it from Gigapedia and read it (of course, buy it if you can, I live in Argentina). Stop wading through your Google Reader and read something useful instead of just watching noise. I promise it'll be worth it.

Comments (1)

On April 6, 2010 at 6:52 PM , Isao said...

I totally agree with you about the importance of book-reading habit and with all the Kindle/iPad hype I the amount of reading might be increasing as a social trend. As for me, I certainly read more than I used to be after I started blogging and engaging in social media more seriously. Why? Because in order to contribute your idea, you need incoming source of new ideas! So strangely, I am resurrecting my love for books thanks to all these digital stuff.

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