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Book Review: Facebook – The Missing Manual by E. A. Vander Veer

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My first experience with Facebook could be divided into two distinct phases. First, there was the discovery phase, where I signed up and created my personal profile, and then there was the confusion phase where I stared at the screen and couldn't think of what to do next. I was now part of a growing online community of more than 50 million people, that as far as I could tell, would occasionally poke me virtually or send me a virtual mojito. I was virtually unimpressed.

Facebook: The Missing Manual is the owner's guide to Facebook you should have been given when you signed up. It's not a guide for playing around under the hood, but rather an overview of just what you can do with Facebook when you take it out for a drive, and it also provides some very important advice on maintaining a certain degree of privacy on this potentially invasive network. I suppose that would be the equivalent of having your windows tinted if you wish to continue the automobile metaphor.

Written by E. A. Vander Veer and published by O'Reilly Media, Facebook is relatively short at 268 pages, but contains a great deal of valuable information for new or confused users. The book is formatted to be user friendly with lots of graphics from the Facebook interface nested in large areas of white space and easily read text.

The book is broken up into five major sections:

  • From Signing Up to Staying Connected – This section shows you how to get started, how to join a network, and how stay connected with your friends and associates. It was in this section I learned the power of Notes and how to get rid of that annoying mini-feed.
  • Interest Groups and Shopping – Here you can learn to meet other people who share your interests, through groups or the Facebook Marketplace.
  • Doing Business with Facebook – Welcome to the world of Web 2.0. Facebook provides tools for project collaboration and insights into the marketing power of social networking.
  • Privacy and Power Tools – This is the cream filling portion of the book, in my opinion. Here you will find the tools to keep yourself and your children safe. The default privacy settings in Facebook leave you and your information open to anyone who cares to look, including third-party applications that may use your data as they see fit. This section shows you how to opt out of that type of scrutiny.
  • Appendix – This section also shows you additional resources for getting help with Facebook.

O'Reilly Media provides a resource site at missingmanuals.com, where you can get additional material and updates.

If you're interested in getting the most out of Facebook, I highly recommend Facebook: The Missing Manual; otherwise, you may continue to send me virtual gifts while I ignore your pokes.

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