If you’ve known me in real life for more than a few years, then you’ve probably experienced my annual or biennial personal crisis in which I cycle through the following: “it’s time to refresh one of my books”, followed by “but I don’t wanna”, followed by “but I have just the best editor in the world and people still buy them and find them useful and come on it’s just a little work”, followed by missing every milestone we agreed to, followed by eventually pushing a thing over the finish line, followed by “never again!”
I’m good at this cycle. I’ve done it every year or so for 18 years. But no more. I’m finally done.
Six years or so ago (Dec 2011) I wrote a blog post called “Tech Books: Not Dead!”, in which I felt so strongly about an article in SD Times that concluded tech books were in fact not dead but people learn more from online material than they did in the past that I wrote a couple hundred words in agreement. Oh, the halcyon days of having that kind of time and relatively innocuous things to write about. I mean, I agreed with the darn thing and I still blogged about it. Who’d have thunk it? (In re-reading that old post, it’s actually pretty interesting and I vaguely recall times like that when I had coherent and interesting thoughts about stuff.)
When it comes to book-writin’, I’m not Laura Lemay, Molly Holzschlag, or Kathy Sierra, although those were the people I looked up to in terms of tone and voice, scaffolding the lessons, plain-ish language, and always keeping my audience in mind and not trying to make these books something they weren’t. For example, to this day my favorite comment ever about one of my PHP books was that “there isn’t enough Java in it.” It was then, sometime around 2005 I think, that I stopped reading comments.
So anyway, if you’ve learned a thing from a book of mine, either because you purchased it on your own or because you had to for a class, thanks for the dollar and please do something with your knowledge: pass it on, mentor someone, use it for civic tech, think critically about the world, whatevs. Just do good with code.