Book Review - Facebook: The Missing Manual by E. A. Vander Veer
So let's say you're someone who hasn't dabbled much in the Web 2.0 world, and you're wondering what all this talk of Facebook is about. Or, you're a parent and you've heard media reports of how dangerous Facebook can be for your kids if they're not careful. If you want to get a overview of the site without getting totally bogged down in the details once you log on, Facebook: The Missing Manual is a good option to pursue. You'll find out the reality of what Facebook offers, why people find it appealing, and what sort of security matters you should keep in mind as you (or your kids) establish a presence there.
Part 1 - From Signing Up to Staying Connected: Getting Started; Joining a Network; Finding and Adding Friends; Sending Messages to Friends; Exchanging Automatic Updates
Part 2 - Interest Groups and Shopping: Participating in Groups; Facebook and the Real World - In-person Events; Going Shopping
Part 3 - Doing Business with Facebook: Hiring and Getting Hired; Collaborating on Projects via Facebook; Advertising on Facebook
Part 4 - Privacy and Power Tools: Customizing Facebook and Adding Applications; Playing It Safe - Facebook Privacy; Facebook Mobile
Part 5 - Appendix: Getting Help; Index
The book starts off with the basics... how to sign up, create your identity, and what sort of groups you could join. I immediately learned something in that area when it came to what groups you're allowed to join in terms of locations and schools. I didn't realize there were the restrictions that required you to have an email address from the school you were associating with. There's also the information on how to send messages to others you know on Facebook. All that's pretty basic, and you could likely get most of that from just logging in and going for it. It's when you get to the following parts that you start to see some of the additional power that may not be readily apparent unless you dig deep on your own. For instance, I wasn't aware of being able to place ads, setting up group collaboration, or looking at Facebook as being a portfolio of your work that a prospective employer might see. Probably the most important part of the book is the section on privacy. It's tempting to want to load up all sorts of details on yourself, but it's really not a wise idea. Vander Veer does a good job in outlining where you should be drawing the line, as well as what risks you take by adding Facebook applications or not restricting your profile properly.
While I do have a Facebook presence already, I came away from this book with a greater understanding of how you could use the tool for more than just "poking" your friends. Many of the features of Facebook have stand-alone equivalents (such as blogs, picture storage, etc.), but you may choose to want to keep everything in one single place for easier integration. And if you're the parent who wants to know what your kids are up to, you'll be able to discuss Facebook with them without all the associated hype and hysteria so often present in media reports.
One thing to keep in mind, however... Sites like Facebook change often with little tweaks and new enhancements. While this book will cover the basics well, don't be surprised if there's a new feature that's not covered at all by the time you read it, or if the screen shots don't match exactly. Such is life in the world of Web 2.0.