Scott A. Carr's website

Scott A. Carr

Computer Scientist

Saving old textbooks

I trimmed down my book collection.  My old textbooks survived, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe I won’t admit to myself the justification is mostly nostalgia.  I cling to some vague idea of referencing from them someday, even though Googling for information is so engrained it’s practically a reflex.

The advantage of textbooks I see is context.  Is what I am searching for in Chapter 9 or Chapter 1?  If it’s in Chapter 9, thats a good indication that Chapters 1-8 are prerequisite for the information I’m seeking. When I type a concept I’m researching into Wikipedia, I’m dropped into a page without context.  This is especially problematic when I’m looking up something I’m a novice in like Machine Learning.  When I type in a term from a Machine Learning book into Wikipedia I might end up at a page written from the point of view of theoretical mathematician, a statistician, or a computer scientist.  Our terminology doesn’t always match up across fields.

Maybe I’ll never read my old textbooks again, but I like knowing that if I pick any book, start from page 1, and read until the end, I’ll get a (hopefully) cohesive view of the subject.

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