Dear Reader, Please note that this review has been written by a father (me) about the first book of his eldest son (Antony Mayfield). I've tried my best to discount any family pride and bias, but you will need to be the judge of that.
Published last Monday, Me and My Web Shadow: How to Manager Your Reputation Online is an excellent book! I like the accessible voice that Antony has written it in, with lots of useful asides and opinions from the author's personal experience. As well as being an easy read, it is a valuable one on two counts:
1. This is a central issue of the online world that has crept up on us all. To describe this as timely is an understatement. This book defines a problem of what follows us as a trail of activity on the web, and provides practical advice on how we can shape it to our advantage.
2. It is a useful reference. The later sections are deliberately intended as such. Although qualified with several qualifications about how rapidly it will date, nevertheless is an excellent practical guide on using the web with personal information and social networks in 2010. For example, Antony's arguments about SlideShare, Scribd, Delicious and LinkedIn in particular have prompted me to reappraise these and how I use the latter two. For example, I had not given much thought to using Delicious as a research tool; but of course it is.
I've been very conscious over the last few years of my attempts to define my own privacy boundaries and etiquette in blogging, Twitter, Squidoo and the like. We all stumble over discussions of this on blogs throughout the web, I'm sure. But what Antony has done has been to pull a coherent argument together from the perspective of positively managing one's online (professional) reputation.
Rightly he makes the point that having and managing an online presence demands time. We must each make our own judgement on how much time online work deserves. He gives some useful checklist for an online management strategy as well as managing things like passwords. I liked the fact that he wasn't dogmatic about tools, although he is clearly a Mac, iPhone, GMail, Google and Wordpress fan. Tools are likely to be more ephemeral after all. It will be the basic principles of online publishing that will endure.
The book is nicely presented, too. It is is a slightly smaller size than the average paperback, which is something I like, and the typography/layout is clean and easy on the eye. The bibliophile in me was not once irritated.
A couple of criticisms, though:
* I'm not sure I agree at all times about the 'thick skin' approach to exchange of views. I prefer a more appreciative, sensitive approach. But then Antony's intention was to bring the discussion out into the open and he has achieved this for me.
* So continuing in my sensitive, appreciative style, not once does my son acknowledge that I blogged some time before he did! In fact, I taught him all I know (but then he went on from that paragraph of wisdom and develop his expertise into at least this volume).
So for me, this book will survive its first cover-to-cover reading and be an important reference source of mine for the foreseeable future.
All I need now is for my son to sign my damn copy!