Author: Dave Awl
Publisher: Peachpit Press, 2009
Aimed at: Complete newbies to Facebook
Pros: Clear and detailed explanations
Cons: Primarily for the completely uninitiated novice
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
Facebook probably needs no introduction to anyone reading this website and if you are already an experienced Facebook user you won't need it. But if you ever get asked to explain Facebook to those who have never encountered it, this slim volume does it in great detail.
Rather than concentrating at the marketing opportunities afforded by Facebook, this guide starts by looking at it as a social networking tool - i.e. using it in the way it was originally designed to work when launched in 2004 by then Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg.
At the outset Dave Awl states that "You can think of Facebook as the online dashboard for your social life: a centralized display that gives you up-to-the-minute data on what your friends are up to, what's on their minds, and what they are planning for the weekend." After a brief summary of what you can do on Facebook the first chapter is devoted to an informative guided tour of Facebook interface which is ideal for anyone who has been mystified by it.
Chapter Two walks you through the process of signing up and setting up a profile at level not for expert users but for novices and the next chapter takes a similarly patient approach to establishing connections with friends - both individuals and networks, the Facebook term for communities such as school, workplace or alumni organisations and local or regional groups. People who haven't already jumped on the Facebook bandwagon are perhaps deterred by issues of privacy and security so this is the topic of the next chapter and the advice seems balanced and reasonable.
The remainder of the book is for those who have been convinced to sign up and are ready to take advantage of Facebook's features. Chapter 5 covers Wall, Status updates, importing stories from other sites using news feeds and commenting on Facebook stories. Chapter 6 is on using facilities for sending private messages starting with its Inbox and Chat window. It also covers why and how to send a Poke which according to Dave Awl is "a way of saying hello without really having anything else in particular to say" and explains the idea of Facebook Gifts - small images for special occasions which can be public, private or anonymous - and concludes with a section on Facebook etiquette entitled "The Fine Art of Not Being Obnoxious". Chapter 7 is on Facebook's optional applications and add-ons and then we return to something that most users would consider is at the heart of the Facebook phenomenon - sharing and tagging photos.
The next chapter covers interaction with people you don't already know and is on groups and is followed up by one Facebook's role in organizing events. In Chapter 11, "Pages and Ads" we move into the territory covered in the second part of the book's subtitle, A Guide to Having Fun with Your Friends and Promoting Your Projects on Facebook. For the uninitiated a Facebook Page (with a capital P) is a special kind of profile that allows public figures, organisations and businesses to communicate with their fans and supporters and Dave Awl shows how to create Pages and how to take advantage of Facebook's paid advertising options. A very short chapter, "Facebook at Work" covers some of the issues of mixing your social life with the world of work and job hunting. The final chapter, also very short, serves to reassure readers that it's possible to use Facebook on a mobile phone.
In sum this books starts by being for the complete novice and gently guides you through the process of becoming completely addicted to Facebook.