Subject: Re: Differing IP laws
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 19:30:07 -0400


Elaine -HFB- Ashton <elaine@chaos.wustl.edu> wrote:
> Ben_Tilly@trepp.com [Ben_Tilly@trepp.com] quoth:
> *>
> *>[...]O'Reilly is generally accepted as
> *>the top publisher of software-related references
>
> Actually, O'Reilly does publish quite a range of travel and other varied
> interest books, some of which look rather interesting.
>
Well, they may publish them, but I don't see them on www.oreilly.com.

(At least not on the front page.)

> And to split hairs, ORA is a top publisher of OpenSource software-related
> titles as I believe a few other publishers carry the old standards.I
> know they publish a Windows line, but a large percentage of their
> titles are on some form of OpenSource-ware. ORA is still a new kid on the
> block. I still have the original first edition of "Make" which I think
> was the first title published by ORA in the mid-80s sometime. They made a
> market out of a tiny niche that has become the poster child of computing
> today.

I don't know their history.  I thought that their first publication was
the Emacs documentation, but I am probably wrong about that.

However I disagree with splitting hairs on this one.  Sure, Open Source
is a specialty of theirs, but they have well-regarded titles in Unix
administration, Oracle, Windows, Web technologies, and plenty of other
areas that are not really Open Source.

> *>Secondly the subject at issue is the pirating of O'Reilly books on a
> *>Russian website.  Your position is that the books go out of date, so it
> *>is up to the publisher to come out with new releases and provide value
>
> This is an open and shut copyright issue.

Good luck enforcing it.

> *>I prefer to have the original unaltered with cosmetic "updates" done
> *>for no good reason than to make the material "current".  Of course
> *>technical work often needs to be updated when the area moves on.  But
> *>a surprising fraction of the time a well-written reference will age
> *>gracefully.
>
> Does this mean you still use your pink Camel Ben? ;)

I have co-workers who do.

Even though I though I began the transition from math to computers
after it was out of date, I know what book you are referring to.
That says something...

> Almost everything is out of date these days by the time it goes to print.
> Incorporating errata and updates is not a bad thing. The only things that
> have aged well on my shelf have been Knuth and K&R...maybe the vi book.

Errata I agree with you on.  But there are plenty of books that aged
well.  Like the Dragon book on compilers, The Mythical Man-Month,
Code Complete, Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, The
Design and Evolution fo C++, ...

> Of course, making books themselves OpenSource isn't a bad thing either as
> it allows for frequent updates but the question 'will people pay for
> something they can get for free to help support the production of the
> documentation' remains. What is the essential value of a document or a
> book? In the coming age of 'e-books' this will need to be addressed.

Personally I find dead trees very useful when I want to really learn
a subject, or when I want to browse and get an overview.  I find in
particular that I remember visually where in a book a topic was, but
finding it on a website or in online documentation is harder for me.

Whether that holds for others is another question though.

Cheers,
Ben