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Interesting vs. useful

From a recent O’Reilly press release:

The Thompsons wrote the first edition of the book when Robert tried to
find an answer to a simple problem–he wanted to buy a CD burner, and
wanted clear information on how to choose, install, configure, and use
a CD burner. What he found was an almost overwhelming amount of
“interesting” information, but a surprising lack of “useful”
information. “‘Interesting’ is quick and easy to write,” says Barbara
Fritchman Thompson. “‘Useful’ is slow and hard, because you have to
weed through all the available information–with its varying degrees of
reliability–and actually do all the stuff you write about.”

Wow, isn’t that the truth? Being useful in life — doing good work — really is slow and hard — but oh so much more rewarding than just being interesting. It’s a high standard to shoot for. After all, isn’t interesting how your friends describe food when they’re being polite?

PS: The O’Reilly book is PC Hardware in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition.

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