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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