I have been using O'Reilly Network's Safari Bookshelf for over a month. The Safari Bookshelf is an electronic reference library for programmers and IT professionals. It provides online access to over a thousand titles from O'Reilly as well as several other major publishers, like Addison Wesley.
The first question comes into mind is how does it compares to reading a real book. Granted it is more comfortable to read a long essay on paper given the computer screen's limited size (for me a resolution of only 1024x768). On the other hand it is not quite as hard. In the full screen mode usually a full page of information can be displayed. While I cannot flip through the pages as with a book, I can search and navigate with just few mouse click. Moreover I think the reading ability can be trained. For people who read mostly from books and newspaper they would find the online reading experience rather restrictive. For me, after spending a lot of time reading online I have developed ways to navigate and organize online material. I find the Safari format quite satisfactory.
The biggest advantage does not come from the presentation format nor how much money one can save for not buying books. One day I come across a topic on WIFI security, which I am not familiar with. I checked on the 802.11 Security title, browsed the introduction and a few other chapters. Within half an hour I got some basic understanding and a grasp of issues. I realized Safari is a wealth of knowledge under my fingertip. This is a truly 21st century enlightenment.
2003.05.08 comments -