Google Plus: The Missing Manual by Kevin Purdy

If there was ever a product needing a manual, frankly it’s Google Plus. It remains a rather obtuse beast – at least to my way of seeing things. Google Plus: The Missing Manual attempts to remedy this by providing a comprehensive review of all the possible interactions you’d have with the web service from a user perspective. So, do I feel like I know the service any better after reading the book. No, not really, unfortunately maybe it’s just the case that G+ doesn’t work the way I do. The book makes a valiant effort, but I have a sense that I personally would be better served by a pure cookbook approach. I would characterize this ‘manual’ as a hybrid approach. Although it structurally does follow a cookbook like structure, I found a tendency to words where graphics and images would better suit the purpose. This isn’t to say that the information isn’t there, I just found it harder to find. This is not to say that the book isn’t well illustrated. It’s full of great full-colour screen shots. I think what might improve it for me would be the addition of diagrams that represented the processes related to accomplishing tasks using pictures rather than words.

I am loathe to blame the author or the book overly for any failure as I really think that it’s the product itself that just doesn’t jive for me in terms of usability and this puts the judgement of the book in the negative column for me. So, in fairness this is a very thorough book that does attempt to deal with all the idiosyncrasies of the product and does it very well, it just seems to interracially suffer from the same defect of the product in how I like to work with information. It may well serve your needs admirably and if you are still confused about how and why to use Google Plus then this could well be the book for you. It is nicely self-paced and it provides copious side-info about the rationale behind the various features that I did find very illustrative and helpful. The prose here is lively and engaging, there just seems to be an overabundance of it.

It’s just that you really shouldn’t need a manual with a product such as Google Plus. If you do…then there is a problem with the product and as yet, it just doesn’t work for me…and I so want it to. I just spent the time to read a book to help me use it. I am making a commitment to it, but don’t feel it makes the same commitment to me.

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