I'll be honest. I only read this book because it was quoted as a must read by Joel Spolsky on a stackexchange answer about how to go about learning prI'll be honest. I only read this book because it was quoted as a must read by Joel Spolsky on a stackexchange answer about how to go about learning programming (and finding out if you want/should be a programmer).
I was a little hesitant due to the year of release. Being at least some 11 years old that's a lot of time in the tech world. Ultimately though that doesn't matter. I defy any developer/programmer/system builder to read this book and not blitz through it lapping it up. Yes if you've done some schooling in computing or computer science you may be happy with much of the content but you'll surely find things you've either not thought about before in much depth or just wasn't explained in quite the elegant way that Petzold does. For me, whether it was due to age, experience or just maturity through both I found it filled gaps in my memory and indeed gaps in student course material.
Petzold opens up the world of computing through a concise linear storytelling format. Starting with a basis in Morse Code and Braille through the telegraph system, barcodes, boolean logic, circuits with memory, von neumann machines, adding peripherals, I/O devices and GUI interfaces we just about catch up to the modern era with talk of HTTP and the world wide web. Having pretty much built the systems (or simplified versions of) we're discussing in the incremental circuit and systems diagrams on the way.
Admittedly there's some rather 'of their time' phrases and facts that raise a smile (low resolutions, high costs for 'small' HD storage sizes, usage of cassette tapes by consumers) but this is all still valid information when taken in the context of the time of writing.
If you are a Developer/Programmer you're not going to go into work having had an epiphany of how better to do things, but you may have a new found respect for what you're doing and the many, many ingenious shoulders you are standing upon....more
I'm not sure anyone serious about entering the world of stand-up (or other comedy writing) would necessarily be reading this book. But then that isn'tI'm not sure anyone serious about entering the world of stand-up (or other comedy writing) would necessarily be reading this book. But then that isn't the only audience that may find it interesting. Even as an 'fascinated audience member' it can be fun to think a bit further about what kind of processes a comic *may* have used to get to the joke you've just seen on stage.
Holloway presents a series of practical methods and exercises that may assist you in the writing process. Starting with Puns and wordplay (including exercises going through newspaper stories selecting interesting words and working with them) through allowing your brain some time-off for 'background processing' and then creating 'joke webs' (mind maps and word association based on a topic). The 'colliding' of these webs is probably the final practical exercise that doesn't necessarily rely on a particular 'talent' - whereby the creator of joke maps attempts to join two ostensibly unrelated maps to find common ground to riff on.
It is after these chapters that it really becomes clear that even with a series of step by step actions to take there still needs to be an element of experience, talent, magic (whatever you'd like to call it) in the mix. Surrealist inquisition (looking at the problem from a diverse variety of positions) and 'Honing' (to a much stronger extent) rely upon the joke author creating a rhythm, timing, framing and elaboration/extension of the joke to make it something that would stand up for use with a general audience.
Of course the performer would also require a charm and stage presence. Tim Vine, for example, relies heavily on puns.. but the reason they work is his delivery and mixing them up with surrealist songs and skits not what could be described as rather basic puns.
Holloway ends with a case study of her own whereby she, in diary style, describes her involvement in writing a routine for a corporate gig.
Interesting and worth a read perhaps more so as a means of directing creativity in any form not just joke writing. Will you be the next Jimmy Carr or Sarah Millican? probably not but you'll be armed with a few techniques to get you on your way....more
I had a hard time reading this book. I wanted to love it like I had Neverwhere and The Ocean at the end of the lane but at times it felt labored and sI had a hard time reading this book. I wanted to love it like I had Neverwhere and The Ocean at the end of the lane but at times it felt labored and slightly aimless. I'm not sure if this is the fault of me reading the extended 'authors preferred text' version; in fact I'd be quite interested to give the original published version a go and compare the difference.
The concept is an intriguing one. That of immigrant peoples bringing their gods with them from overseas who are then forced to survive as human like versions powered by the remaining, but dwindling, belief that their people have in them. Fighting for attention with all the draws of the modern age (which themselves are anthropomorphised as the 'old gods' antagonists).
Ultimately I enjoyed the story and the style, but the feeling of 'spot the god/myth reference' occasionally grew tiresome. ...more
Bottom line: Great book, maybe not all areas applicable to all.
That is to say that if you're recruiting in an SME it's quite likely that you won't havBottom line: Great book, maybe not all areas applicable to all.
That is to say that if you're recruiting in an SME it's quite likely that you won't have the budget to provide limos for interviewees, private offices for all, catered lunches etc. However that's getting picky and rather literal in what you could/should take away from this book.
It's refreshing to read a view on recruitment from a business leader with a very strong technical background. This is true both as a recruiter and as a potential interviewee.
The emphasis on the importance of, and respect for developers (as opposed to seeing them as 'brickies') is a running theme. So too is '... [interviews are] as much a way to decide if they want to work for us as it is a way for us to decide if we want to hire a candidate...'
From a recruiter perspective you are left pondering the thought '..it is much, much better to reject a good candidate than to accept a bad candidate...'...more