More dangerous than just worthless . . .

Disposing of Harmful Books

©Conrad Weisert, Information Disciplines, Inc.,
7 October 2017


I work part-time in a university Computer Science office where unwanted used textbooks are collected once or twice a year. They're picked up by a service that re-sells those that have value on the used-textbook market. The valueless ones are presumably shipped to extremely poor countries, mostly in Africa.

The services point out that people in those impoverished backward countries will be using obsolete equipment. Therefore, they maintain, it's acceptable for them to get information from equally obsolete textbooks.

Wrong!   The problem isn't that the textbooks are old. Indeed some of the worst examples were recently published. It's that they're full of seriously flawed, often harmful guidance. Following such misguided advice in 1980 led to extremely harmful results, and following it today would be just as bad.

So, I don't contribute those harmful textbooks to the "give away" pile. Even though they're in excellent condition and might look attractive on a bookshelf, I place them in a garbage can (the recyclables one) for the City to pick up and destroy.

Finally, I have to note that some books on computer technology that were published decades ago ("classics") have held up well. I continue to review them and recommend them to students and clients, and I consult them often in my own work.

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Last modified October 7, 2017