So I was recently approached by a book publishing company online who wanted to know if I would be willing to review an upcoming book that they were planning on releasing. The book was on the subject on optimizing MongoDB and they said that they thought I would be a good reviewer based on my years of experience in the industry. In exchange for reviewing the book I would get my name and my biography put into the book as one of the reviewers. I have to say, my spider sense immediately started tingling that this was somehow a scam but I could not quite put my finger on it. They weren’t asking for any money from me and it was flattering to be considered an expert on a subject (even though I am not an expert on MongoDB) so I decided to go forward with it.
Today, I started reading the first chapter of the book and oh boy… it was bad. I started taking notes right at the first paragraph. The problem wasn’t the accuracy of the technical content, the problem was that the writer of the book was clearly not a native english speaker. I had to re-read every sentence several times to determine what the F they were actually trying to say. They kept using wrong words like ‘recipe’ instead of ‘chapter’ and dont put transitional word proper or plural correct much yes?
I skimmed the rest of the chapter and sent an email back to the project coordinator with a list of the problems I found and an explanation that I would not be able to review the rest of the book. To make it worse, they wanted each chapter reviewed in 4 days, not business days mind you, just 4 days. I don’t have time for that.
So then I started to figure it out. What they were doing is paying someone in India say $2 a day to write a book… ok perhaps it was $3 a day after all it was written by a software developer. Then they figured they would get someone who speaks english to make the book readable by english people and rely on the vanity of that person to get them to do the work for free. Sorry sir, but I don’t need to be in a book that bad.
Here is the problem. I would never read that book. If I picked that book up off the shelf at Barnes and Noble I would put it right back down after reading the first paragraph. The thing is, we have this new invention called the fucking internet and all the information that I ever wanted to know about anything is already right at my fingertips. The days of cryptic tombs written by uber geeks who may or may not speak the language is over.
Don’t get me wrong, books are not dead by any means. I still purchase real paper books and enjoy reading them, but the books that I choose, I choose because of the writing style, not necessarily the fact that are inside them (even though I pretty much only read technical books). When I buy a new book I expect more that just the facts. I want the book to be easy to read and even easier to understand. And more that this I even expect the writer to make me laugh every once in a while because heck, i’m a god damn human being and I want to be entertained as well as educated.
So with this in mind. I think I am going to start a new project. I am going to write my own technical manual. Not sure what to call it but perhaps something like this:
– a technical guide for the un-technical –
or “How I bullshitted my way into a respectable career”