You touch on an interesting issue: how does one go about organising 97 discrete pieces of advice from different authors?
There is no single linear progression of articles that would satisfy everyone. And, if you think about it a little longer, you may realise that even for a given individual there is more than one progression of articles that would make sense for that individual. Therefore, the progression is inevitably somewhat arbitrary and it is best to acknowledge the sequence as a sampling rather than an intentional progression.
That said, arbitrary is not the same as random. The progression should be memorable and rational, so a reader can easily refer back to items. The first book in the 97 Things series, 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know, was organised based on the order in which items were submitted (or, to be precise, started). This is actually worse than random! The only people for whom that sequence would be memorable would be the contributors involved in the process, which is something of a minority of the readership. It also led to clustering when people put down place holders for more than one item at the same time. The second book in the series, 97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know, did not improve on this scheme greatly: it alternated items from contributors resident in the US with those resident outside the US. Not an obvious criterion and one that relies on you knowing where the contributor lives!
For 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know I chose the only meaningful and memorable ordering that makes sense for that many independent items: alphabetic by title. This gives a good mix, a decent sampling progression, only one instance of clustering (which was intentional) and is both memorable and accessible if you can recall an item's title. (If you can recall it by author, the contributor pages offer a reverse look-up.)
In a sense, all of the items relate to honing your craft, but if I had to pick a small sample, I would probably select "Do Lots of Deliberate Practice" by Jon Jagger, "Hard Work Does not Pay Off" by Olve Maudal, "Read Code" by Karianne Berg, "Learn to Say 'Hello, World'" by Thomas Guest and "Know Well More than Two Programming Languages" by Russel Winder. These are all about motivation and focus rather than on specific mechanics.
I hope that helps!
posted 8 years ago
Thanks for giving such a detailed explanation..
Good luck on your book!
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