The Morning Coffee – 7 July 2014

In spite of the 4th of July weekend, my reading list is long this morning. The list includes an explanation from the WSJ on how one null result is more than another null result, Hugh Howey on unions, doubts about the value of teaching all students to code, and more.

  • Amazon, Hachette, Publishing, Etc — It’s Not a Football Game, People (John Scalzi's Whatever)
  • Big Five publishers, it’s time for some tough love (TeleRead)
  • Book Promotion When Time Is Limited — What’s Most Worth Doing? (Lindsay Buroker)
  • Both at the same time (Studio Tendra)
  • Byliner gone bad and the business of longform journalism on the web — (GigaOm)
  • Do Writers Need a Union? (Hugh Howey)
  • Geek Sublime review – a skeptical take on coding culture (The Guardian)
  • Marginalia (Parallel Transport)
  • The Summer's Most Unread Book Is… (WSJ)

About Nate Hoffelder (11371 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on The Morning Coffee – 7 July 2014

  1. AltheGreatandPowerful // 7 July, 2014 at 2:08 am // Reply

    Not sure about the Marginalia story – I don’t write in my books, or support those who do. So I don’t miss not being able to vandalize electronic texts.

    • Few people are interested in digital marginalia; I can’t tell you the number of different web annotation ideas which I have seen come and go over the past few years.

  2. IDC says there are 18.5 million programmers, with more than 1/3 being “hobbyists”. I am a programmer by trade, and while I don’t want more competition for jobs, I do believe everyone should learn how to write programs.

    It is incredibly useful to know how to manipulate files to generate reports, handle some kinds of math, science and accounting problems, and automate other mundane, reptitive tasks many people do using computers. It is true that you can usually find software that more or less does what you want, but if you write it yourself, you don’t have to pay for it, and you can maintain it for a long period of time.

    • My problem with ideas like this is that there are too many of them. The school day isn’t long enough to fit all of the stuff being crammed into it, and it’s gotten so bad that even the basics are being shortchanged.

      • I agree with you. The core, mandatory subjects should be strictly limited. Programming should be an option students are strongly encourage to take, not a requirement for graduation.

  3. Re requiring everyone to learn coding

    Hmmm. I got a degree in Computer Programing when that meant Cobol and RPG. I wasn’t good at it. I could do it. But I couldn’t see down the road to what will happen when, etc. Some of the students just knew. Then I realized that you have to have an ability for the things you want to learn. When I was in law school, I didn’t understand why so many thought it was difficult. Couldn’t they see down the road to what will happen if this and then that? Oh, I had an ability for the law and not for programming. I never did do anything with my Cobol and RPG info. But I am so happy that I had the experience. Now with PCs, and even Android, I don’t program anything but I can figure stuff out.

    I think everyone should have experience with philosophy as the perfect pre-law and pre-programing prep. While the computer witches circled my house yesterday I was thankful for my programing classes which at least made me interested in what is going on and how the heck I can work with it. Later in the day, the witches were still present, and my husband was having a terrible time w/ his Windows XP and the ancient desktop. He’d be like the guys who aren’t “aware that computer chips are not made from silicone”. While trying to sell him on the idea of moving up to Windows 7, he told me he doesn’t even use Windows. Well, OK, let’s try a different tack. It would be great if all school children knew the basics. And probably they do, instinctively.

    I’ll have to get the Vikram Chandra book. Sounds interesting.

  4. The value of any type of education isn’t just the facts and skills you pick up but also the mindset and thought processes you learn.
    Learning to program teaches planning, analysis, and organizational skills that are valuable in real life even if you never code even a batch file or macro.

    • Yes, but so much is crammed into a school day, and the obsession with standardized testing has warped education from focusing on “mindset and thought processes” to instead focusing on test-taking skills. It has done horrible things to children’s writing skills, for example.

      • Standardized tests are a horrible idea that should be tossed, but politicians love them, and so they stay.

        My wife and I both have computer science degrees (lots of math in that), and struggled to help our kids with the Grade 3 math curriculum when they passed through that grade. Poorly-written/edited books, vague questions and weird teaching experiments also have to go!

      • At which point your beef is with the teachers and the school system, not the subject matter.
        Blame where blame is due, okay?

        • No, my problem is with the fools who think that education is broken and that they can fix it. That includes anyone who supports standardized testing as well as the people who want to make teaching coding a core requirement. They are equally harmful.

          • I didn’t say it should be core but it definitely belongs high on the electives list along with economics (minus the home limitation) and verbal communication (aka debating).
            Understanding math is important even in an age of calculators and understanding flowcharts is equally important in an age of computers and robots.
            Technical illiteracy is at least as important as bad eating habits. 🙂

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