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REVIEW: "Building Social Web Applications", Gavin Bell

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKBUSCWA.RVW 20101017 Building Social Web Applications , Gavin Bell, 2009, 978-0-596-51875-2, U$34.99/C$43.99 %A Gavin Bell www.GavinBell.com/bswa %C
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2011
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      BKBUSCWA.RVW 20101017

      "Building Social Web Applications", Gavin Bell, 2009,
      978-0-596-51875-2, U$34.99/C$43.99
      %A Gavin Bell www.GavinBell.com/bswa
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2009
      %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 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596518757/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596518757/robsladesin03-20
      %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
      site owner.

      "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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