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Street Team Needs Some Street Smarts

Tho' their aims may be admirable, I have a real problem with the methods that the Web Standards Street Team are proposing to 'help' update the "outdated web design and development books [...] lurking in your local library, school or college, waiting to corrupt an innocent mind?"

I just sent the team a letter (you can, too, at goodbooks@webstandards.org) and I think it expresses my concerns best:

Hi! I have a concern about your approach. You should trumpet LOUDLY the idea that the best way to get involved is to contact your local library and volunteer to help them replace outdated books. Where volunteering could take the form of working with them to ensure that all new book purchases come from your list of good books, or could actually involved DONATING books from the list to them, asking only that they remove one outdated book for each good one received.

I'm sure you're aware that (especially public) libraries have a hard time keeping accurate and up-to-date technical titles in stock. This is for a variety of reasons (budget, reliance on donated books—which will always lag behind by a generation or two, and lack of qualified personnel to make purchasing decisions about state-of-the-state anything, let alone latest best practices in web standards.) Wouldn't it be much better to lend a hand to those folks than to wag a finger?

Your proposed solution—a preachy card silently slipped into books—is no real fix. Who, exactly, is the intended recipient? The borrower—who may have checked out the book because he or she can't afford to buy a new book? The librarian? Odds are good that he or she won't see the card slipped between the pages. AND they typically don't make purchasing decisions for the library. The book buyer? Why not just call them and express your concerns?

Thanks for listening, and I would be perfectly happy to work with the Street Team on developing a program of library outreach, to achieve your goals in a more-straightforward (and less pejorative) fashion.

Bryce Glass

Here's hoping I hear back! FWIW, I do find their list of good books on web design and development to be incredibly useful, and will refer to it often.



This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 8, 2008 10:13 AM.

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