Re: Why Winsor & Newton - OT, About Book Accuracy - OT

From: Robert M ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 05/31/05-07:36:56 PM Z
Message-id: <BAY3-DAV42AAC55F96C69C27E65ACE6050@phx.gbl>

> > Pre-Internet, we obtained information from books. Generally speaking. It
> > less likely most books published would be inaccurate because writing a
> > took time. These days, anyone can publish their book with effortless
> > in many cases, it is not "peer reviewed." These days, anyone can create
> > group or web site and nobody vets their data.
> Actually, it depends. My experience with books is that no matter how long
> they took to prepare, they can be just as full of wrong assumptions,
> unclear directions and what I call "seems logical disease" as the worst
> internet bumble -- and since there is still an *authority* to the print
> medium (and the glossy photos) that gives them a presumption of
> correctness that throws the reader off even more. Not to mention that
> should the author himself (and the errors that most readily come to mind
> are from "him"s) find an error, it can't be corrected until another
> edition which may never happen, but goes on radiating pain and confusion
> through nine lives and then it's "vintage" and even more "credible."

I agree to a point. I have more than a few technical books that contain
incorrect information. However, the mistakes are few and far between. If I
am interested in a process, I do not rely on single sources. So I suffer
very few radiating pains. Besides, what works for the writer might not work
for the user for many reasons. There are also many careless writers out
there. When I wanted information about the Autochrome process, I went not to
the books in the library, but the original patent document.

This does not change the fact that for the most part, a book is generally
more accurate than a typical e-book, web site, or online "publication."
Generally speaking, not in every case. This is because many people are
involved with the book. Experts editing programming books, for example, can
(usually) spot the minor problems and they are (usually) eliminated. Same
thing with car books, history books . . . every type of book for that

You can post anything on a web site and experts generally do not vet the
information before you post. I am not suggesting every editor catches every
mistake or every web site is inaccurate. I bet even the publication
(Post-Factory?) is inaccurate or wrong from time to time. But so is Redbook,
American Cinematographer, and Popular Science, I am betting.

I am currently writing a book about the history of American motorcycles and
my editor is an expert when it comes to a particular brand of bike. He
caught a simple typo and changed "Motorcycle" to "Moto-Cycle" because I
missed it. I certainly recognized the mistake and for the purists, it was a
very big mistake. Almost every Indian Motorcycle site I have visited makes
the mistake of using "motorcycle" rather than using "Moto-Cycle" as would
be proper in some cases, with some production models and years.

> Websites are another matter, to me mostly unknown, since as a rule, for
> numerous reasons, I don't go there. (At least a book has an editor who
> might occasionally pick up a defect of organization, if not of fact.)
> However, my experience in 11 years on this list is that when a mistake
> gets made it is going to be CORRECTED, sometimes corrected to death, but
> that's to err on the side of the angels. If I had a dollar for every
> error I've found in, even the vaunted KOL, I could, oh, buy another book.
> And that's a classic now, forever & ever "golden."

Mistakes should be questioned and corrected. The problem is when folks
"correct to death," as you mentioned. Sometimes we end up with two people
arguing something and both sides are actually wrong. The poor reader is then
left to sort it out.

What is "KOL?"

My other book project is a history of Dr. Edwin Land and the Vectograph
process. I can state with a high degree of confidence, I am a polarizer
filter expert. I know their history, their characteristics, specific
chemical formulations used in their manufacturer, how manufacturers other
than 3M (perhaps the predominant manufacturer these days) manufacturer their
filters, how the plastic materials are stretched, etc. I know the patents
(almost every patent) inside and out, and how industry uses polarizes. I
have interviewed the big players in the field.

You would not believe how many "experts" post incorrect information about
polarizer filters and how they work. If I made the same mistakes, my
publisher and the experts peer reviewing the work would scream. Errors will
be corrected before the book goes to press in the first quarter of next
year. On a web site, not as much care is taken to make sure the information
is correct.

A basic book about freelance writing will not automatically advise the
reader to use e-mail and manuscript attachments. In a recent e-book, a
self-proclaimed "Literary Agent" said to always use email and attachments.
The same bad advice often appears on writer's mailing lists. No book
published by "Writer's Digest Books" would dare to let their author get away
with such bad advice.

Some experts occasionally tell us we have legal copyright protection if we
mail something to ourselves and carefully file the envelope away without
opening it. Utter nonsense.

> Meanwhile, there's a problem that folks may bring on themselves, the
> expectation of a clear answer, formulas, protocols, that can be taken by
> rote, problem solved, for all questions. Sure for some questions...but in
> practice, every variable, from water to light source is a.... variable.

Yes, there are variables. This is where science comes into play. Water
quality can be controlled, so regardless of what comes out of your tap, you
can change and modify it. Or you can use distilled water. Water can be
tested. Every variable can be controlled to some extent. Paper, for example,
can be modified with mordants and humidity adjusted. I work with several
processes that have remained unchanged for decades, as have the results.

You also need to consider some variables might not appreciably change the
process, yet some workers think they do. People often inaccurately measure
compounds, their lights fade as they are used, contamination, sloppy work
habits, and so forth. Most processes are very stable if you are careful and
there should not be much variability. Unless the manufacturer changes
something. Or the worker does.

I agree with you when you say "Meanwhile, there's a problem that folks may
bring on themselves, the expectation of a clear answer, formulas,
protocols, that can be taken by rote, problem solved, for all questions." I
can explain how to make a Vectograph or a Dye Transfer in a single
paragraph, or devote almost an entire book to answering the basic question
and still miss something. Some readers expect simple answers to complex
questions and we cannot always accommodate their needs.

> Maybe not to the same extent in platinum, and iron/silver media, tho
> generalities probably don't hold across the board there, either... But,
> and I doubt many gum printers would dispute this, in gum printing EVERY
> variable is a factor. You can't just say this paper or that hardener or
> the other pigment, etc. each one -- at least in my tests -- can change the
> way everything else behaves. In other words it's always a combo, how this
> pigment works with that gum on such & such paper for instance.
> There is no substitute for the 21-step and variables test of your own full
> drill. A 21-step in time, like they say, saves 99.
> Oh, and about that gum printing in dye, good luck. It came up before on
> the list, for about 15 seconds. For one thing, dye sinks into the paper &
> doesn't release, unless you just tint really heavy goop, & maybe not even
> then. However, if you're going to print on non-paper, well, some new
> paints are actually dyes, or near dyes. Tho don't ask me which ones, I've
> forgotten. Try a 21-step.

Very true, Paints can contain either dyes or pigments. I do not know what
you mean by "near dyes." Some pigments are fugitive and some dyes are
unquestionably permanent. Dye and color chemistry is very complicated and
likely beyond the needs or interests of this list to understand finer
details at the molecular level.

Received on Tue May 31 19:45:54 2005

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