It’s hard to find a teen who doesn’t have a strong opinion about social networking. And with 75 percent of job recruiters using web searches and social networking to screen applicants, the importance of understanding how those online venues work is of paramount importance for young people as they balance the human need to share with the necessity for safety and privacy online.
This book opens with a look at the roots of the Internet, documenting pre-web online services, such as CompuServe, and initially text-based communities, such as the Well. The book quickly moves to chronicle the lifecycles of social networks, including Classmates, Friendster, MySpace and the currently-dominant Facebook and game-changing microblogging service Twitter, while exploring how those interfaces have allowed people, distant or local, to interact in new ways. The initial chapter describes the many end-user personalizations available and further customization through application programming interface (API) code that some sites allow developers to access to mine existing data with their own software.
The portion on using social networks describes creating a profile, finding friends and colleagues, and the different ways social networks are used by individuals and communities, including election campaigning, social activism, and political protest. There are pull-out text boxes describing the mechanics of wireless routing and web 2.0 conceptually, and one speculating on a sustainable business models for free web-based applications dependent on click-through and page-view advertising for revenue. Related occupations are also highlighted in text boxes detailing the requirements and job responsibilities of software engineers and web designers, whose salaries are presented rather precisely as $79,780 and $58,894.
Cyberlife is presented with caveats about potential for overuse, isolation, privacy concerns, cyberbullying and sexual predation, and there are practical tips about staying safe online. The book closes with anticipation of future advancements, including more open social web searching, location awareness, and more mobile device access. There is a description of the push towards user data transferable between networks and interfaces, already visible in sites such as FriendFeed, that collocate tweets and Facebook status updates.
Like all volumes in Lucent’s Technology 360 series, the content appeals to tech-y students with crisp, colorful graphics and pithy writing, but it is also an approachable beginning text for less technologically-savvy readers.There is a glossary, but the words defined there are not indicated typographically in the body of the text. Endnote citations link to original sources, most of them appropriately web-based, such as TechCrunch, ZDNet and Mashable. Well-known tech writers, including Larry Magid and Anastasia Goodstein, are also cited. The additional reading offered is a weaker aspect, with only one book, one Time magazine article, and five online resources offered . An important update for collections as online networking and related topics are ripe for social issues research assignments. Recommended for school libraries.