REVIEW: "Building Social Web Applications", Gavin Bell
- BKBUSCWA.RVW 20101017
"Building Social Web Applications", Gavin Bell, 2009,
%A Gavin Bell www.GavinBell.com/bswa
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%G 978-0-596-51875-2 0-596-51875-7
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$34.99/C$43.99 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience n Tech 2 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 409 p.
%T "Building Social Web Applications"
The preface states that this book is for developers, designers, and
managers of social Web applications. Noting the warning that there is
little in the way of sample code in the work, this would imply that
the primary emphasis is on design. Indeed, a large part of this
volume concentrates on the creation of entirely new social sites, and
even communities which do not currently exist.
Chapter one, in fact, stresses the importance of defining a community,
itself. This is probably a useful exercise, but the text does not
provide much in the way of guidance. (Some figures are obviously
intended to assist in explaining the issue, but only serve to cloud
the situation.) Determining the type of interactions, or
relationships, appropriate to the community, or your potential site or
application, is covered in a slightly more useful manner in chapter
two. While the contributor/publisher/community generated content
split is helpful, Bell fails to note the wider variety of potential
interactions, even in the sample sites reviewed. The material, in
chapter three, on planning a new site is more directly useful,
although somewhat overshadowed by generic project management advice.
Visual impact and design is discussed in chapter four, but there is
little direction on actual design: most of the content addresses
issues of options for a team doing implementation of a particular
design (along with some interesting but disjointed technical factors).
It is difficult to say what chapter five is about: it does talk about
different types of media, but the point, of any, is unclear. Since
social networking sites tend to develop rapidly, the importance of
managing change is clear, and chapter six does have some important
points to make on that topic.
Chapter seven stresses the importance of gaining user input, but seems
to take the position that such feedback can only be utilized in
specific development models, and is impossible in others. The
discussion of interaction types, begun in chapter two, is extended in
chapter eight, this time concentrating on privacy issues. Similarly,
chapter nine extends the types of possible relationships, this time
into a bewildering variety, and chapter ten examines a broader range
of functions and activities. Aspects of identifying entities
(references, users, and objects) are dealt with in chapter eleven.
Chapter twelve turns more specifically to identification of people,
and some simple cross-site technologies for user identification and
authentication (although the differences between identification and
verification are not made clear).
Factors for navigation and search are reviewed in chapter thirteen.
Chapter fourteen addresses the need for user management of
interactions, while fifteen examines the need for moderation from the
"Writing the Application," in chapter sixteen, covers a huge range of
programming, infrastructure, and other technical topics, pointing out
that almost all of the prior material in the book is really about
people. Chapter seventeen points out the advantages of allowing other
Websites to use your services and functions. Factors involved in
promoting and developing your site are in chapter eighteen.
The book could use some work on structure and the management of it's
content (rather ironically, in view of some of the issues addressed).
The early chapters are simplistic and somewhat annoying, although
later content is more useful.
Despite the suggestions in the preface, it takes a while to realize
the audience for whom this book is really written: it's people who
think they have a good idea for a social Website (or application), but
who haven't thought much about people. So, yes, developers and
programmers (who usually think about human beings as little as
possible) would probably benefit from it, as would some promoters and
"idea people" (even if non-technical) who haven't given the general
public much thought. Designers and managers, who have had to deal
with human factors in their careers, are probably a bit beyond the
content of this work.
copyright, Robert M. Slade 2010 BKBUSCWA.RVW 20101017
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