[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

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by Joel Spolsky
Saturday, August 05, 2006

A reader asks:

As I was purchasing an excessive amount of new computer books today, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't heard mention of "The Best Software Writing 2", though the first one came out around this time last year, I believe.  I enjoyed the first book so much that I was very much hoping it would be an annual thing. Are there plans for a second one in the works?

Good question! Recently I sat down with a long list of nominations and worked through them. When I was done, I was extremely depressed to discover that there wasn't enough material for a whole new book, and what I did find was 50% Stevey. It didn't seem fair to give him half the book.

There were five problems:

  • A lot of the good writing is taking place on blogs. Half the time, these blog entries are not written as essays but as quotes, hyperlinks, comments in discussion groups, all kinds of hypertext that just doesn't hold together in plain text form. The old idea of an essay with a beginning, a middle, and an end is increasingly rare.
  • There's a lot of terrible writing out there.
  • I'm not very good at finding the good writing that is probably out there somewhere, if only I could find it.
  • I'm pretty crabby and have high standards, and slogging through gallons of bad writing just to find the occasional gem is something I don't think I'm going to live long enough to do.
  • A lot of programmers' magazines have disappeared and those that are left, like MSDN, have deteriorated to the point where I'd rather read the average Oracle knowledge base article (and I don't even USE Oracle).

In any case the bottom line is that another edition of "Best Software Writing" is not in the cards for '06. I'll revisit it next year. In the meantime, submit good articles to The Joel Reddit and keep voting over there; maybe some great stuff will float to the top.


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