Are books better than blogs?

By Deane Barker on December 6, 2009

Twelve Tips to Master Programming Faster : Tip #4 interested me.

4. Read books. […]  You will read and learn more from a good $30 paperback book than dozens of free blogs. I could probably explain why, but it’s not even worth it. The data is so very clear from my experience that trying to explain why it is that way is like trying to explain why pizza tastes better than broccoli: I’m sure there are reasons but just try pizza and you’ll agree with me.

Who agrees or disagrees with this?  Some previous arguments in favor of it:

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  1. I agree, for new things. A well done book works as an in-depth tutorial, but can be returned to as a cookbook for specific examples later on. It’s all right there.

    However, if I already know (say) most of Rails, and I need info on some specific plugin which isn’t in any of my books, then Google is my friend. A one-page blog is generally all I need for that, and generally searching for “foobar tutorial” for some specific value of foobar wins fast.

  2. What yachris2112 said.

    If I’m trying to learn something new that takes more than a page or two, a book is better. Authors have had centuries to figure out how to make books work for this. If it’s a little simpler, a website (though probably not a blog) can work. Blogs are not really good for learning how to do things; their strength is more geared to new or adjusted techniques for a process with which the reader is already generally familiar. For example, Seth Godin’s blog won’t teach you how to be a marketer, but if you already have some grasp of the basics, he’ll give you great ideas to add to your repertory.

  3. Absolutely agree, Deane.

    Books, by nature of the industry, are more fleshed out and serve as authorities on whatever the subject might be. They go through several stages of vetting, where that can’t be guaranteed on a blog.

    That being said, I agree with the two above – the book is where knowledge is kept, bound to itself and perfect for grasping a major concept, while the blog is where addenda are created.

  4. It also seems that a lot of online content is either geared to the introductory material or targets those specific situations that are problemsome. As mentioned, a good book will cover a lot more of the middle ground better.

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