Self Esteem and O’Reilly Animals

Listening to James Reinders talk about Intel Open Sourcing their Threading Building Blocks got me thinking about O’Reilly animals.

James seemed kind of underwhelmed at being assigned a canary.

Intel Threading Building Blocks: Outfitting C++ for Multi-core Processor Parallelism

To be honest, I can see why. As mascots go, canaries are not an A-list animal. If half the other mascots would eat yours, and the other half could accidentally step on it and kill it, then you have not been well served.

Sure, there are only so many A-list animals to go around. It is not so surprising that the lions, tigers, elephants are already taken, but B-list can be fine too. Perl has adopted the camel with an enthusiasm far beyond what camels are used to. Hugh and Dave got a good one for their PHP and MySQL book. The platypus is a great animal for PHP. Sure, it looks like it was put together out of parts of other animals, but it is reasonably attractive, and has the kind of street cred you get from being poisonous.

But really, a canary? A scallop? A sand dollar? A moth? A beetle? It is hard to find glamour or prestige in mollusks and other invertebrates that that spend their short lives munching on decomposing waste.

I wonder if many of the people who get an invertebrate or a puny vertebrate ever write a second book for the same publisher, or if they quietly slink away and hide their book inside a Harry Potter dust jacket.

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