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Survey Textbook Author Pile-On

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Frank Willis
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The boundary surveying text by Curtis Brown is what I used to study for the PLS exam back in 1979.  That edition was a wonderful book.  Concise, to the point, accurate and great.  I still have it.  But later, I noticed that other editors kept adding their name to it, and it has become complex, voluminous and full of wasteful overwriting. And I saw this morning that one of the people offering FS PS training is now listed on the latest edition as an author. I wonder how much each of these supplemental authors actually wrote, or whether some of the additions are not making Brown's original book less useful.  Just my opinion/question.

Out of curiosity, I looked at some of the new FS PS example problems, and one of them seems to extract data regarding the natural hierarchy (hierarchy of calls) and mix apples and oranges asking for prioritization of things--Rights of possession, senior rights, natural monuments, distances.   Those are different things.  Natural monuments and distances are part of the natural hierarchy, but rights are not.  If you look in a book that has too many pages and is too complex, you will find that list, but is not this a case of authors just adding stuff?  This makes the whole thing too complex, and NCEES just pulling stuff out of it?

 

We surveyors know what senior and junior rights are.  We know what possession is, but do all PLSs know what is mean by rights of possession?  Of course we know that if someone possesses land that person can gain ownership of the land per civil code in any state, but to me, rights of possession is a vague term apparently pulled out of some additional stuff that a tack-on author decided to write just to be writing.

 

I imagine that many will disagree, and I can understand that.  But I guess what I think is important is knowing what is important and the prevention of a bunch of sifting through worthless writing to memorize lists.  Basic Curtis Brown is great.  To much "writing" added to it by others is shame.  Beauty is in brevity and focus on what is important.  The rest contains too much waste.

 

My opinion only. 

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party chef
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I think the trend of text books being updated for no reason beyond justifying another edition is fairly well established. 

The practice of bringing something new only as a profit vector and not because of an actual improvement is really fascinating and unfortunate. Sometimes I think our landfills are stocked with update after update until we circle back around to the solution established generations back.

I like the old school books better, and I hate it when reading a book and it is clear they are just arguing with another academic. 

 

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RichardLHardison
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@party-chef  The trend is not recent. I visited a friend at Austin-Peay and picked up a copy of a Differential equations text. When I took the course a year later, at another college, the text book was the next edition of the same book. Literally, the only thing that had changed was the problems. Textbooks are a racket.

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thebionicman
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Brown has been edited for a number of reasons.

The laws we consider as retracing surveyor are not static, and our understanding of our duty to the public is continually evolving.

One very important reason relates to your comment regarding civil law. Rights of possession are generally earned by meeting a fact pattern laid out in Statute and supported by case law. The right is transferred when the conditions are met. Surveyors who ignore that do so at the peril of the community of owners, not to mention themselves. Wether this is spelled out in recent editions of Browns I cannot say. I"ve moved on to more substantive learning and keep Browns as a reference (thanks Dave L).

All that being said I have been dubbed a bibliophile (among other things) by many close to me. Reading and understanding surveying texts from the 1800's through the 'great awaking' of our profession in about 1977/78. None of those texts are perfect, but it helps understand the footsteps of the time. I would encourage any Surveyor to remember that last sentence well. If you insist on reading with too critical an eye you'll run out of books on day two or so. With all authors, build your knowledge from diverse sources. Hold on to the good, but recognize the faults and let them go.

My .02, Tom

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Mark Mayer
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I have often suggested on these pages that students of survey skip on buying the latest (expensive) editions of BC&LP and EPfBL and go for (used & very cheap) early editions. 

image

Yes, it has become something different than it started out to be, IMO.

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Frank Willis
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The point I was trying to make is that as the new editions come out with new pile-on authors buying their way into being an author of already-established excellent texts, that the input from the pile-on authors seems to simply mess the book up with too much information.....and subsequently the NCEES and other examination groups pick stuff out of the bulky new books and treat it as the gospel for formulating a test question, which only one question could affect the career or kill the spirit of a good person wanting to become a professional surveyor.  

 

The comment about staying up with the latest greatest is well taken, but latest is not always greatest.  Sometimes it is pathetic and harmful.

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