What the Pluck! Who Needs a Book to Share on a Social Network! [Book Review]

When I had remarked exactly a year ago, “Google + is an excellent product– a brilliantly planned, and well developed web-app, with a striking UX and great features, that has the potential to take social networking to the next level,” little did I know that I would be reading and reviewing a book on Google+ a year later. What the Plus!

Guy Kawasaki, an Apple evangelist in its early days(1984), is now an Apple Fellow, and Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund, and cofounder of RSS aggregation site Alltop.com. Kawasaki is the author of 10 books, and presents this as his 11th title.

What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us” is a book about Google+, obviously, and its myriad features, generously interspersed with screenshots of his own Google+ profile and posts. It goes on to provide tips and tricks on how to get familiar with it, use it, master circles, amass more followers, etc., and brings in differences between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, allocating different functionalities to these, Twitter for perceptions, Facebook for people, Pinterest for pictures (really?), and Google+ for passions. And I thought Google+ was about to take on the world of social networking in all aspects.

What the Plus! is more like a user manual for Google+. Most internet users flock social networks and need not be instructed on how to comment or respond to them. Why, many people in India started using Internet only after the advent of Facebook. So what if a newer social network uses, well, circular circles instead of linear lists to organize friends? Why do we need a manual to learn the new features? What the Plus! [Everytime I try to say/write What the Plus!, my larynx/fingers do not cooperate and try to insert the F-word. I have to force them hard to render the correct phrase.]

Sample chapter names from the book: “How to Comment”, “How to Share Posts”, “How to Respond to Comments”! He might as well add a chapter, “How to switch on the computer”. If I need a book to understand how to share posts and how to comment or respond to comments, it means either Google+’s interface is in Tulu, or I am super dumb. Come on man, just because a Guy [sic] is popular on Google+ doesn’t mean he can insult his fellow users’ intelligence.

“Google+ for the Rest of Us”, the second part of the title of the book, reeks of elitism, something Google+ was chastised for in its days of infancy, when you could join Google+ only through an invitation. Also, the book begins with a rather elitist quote by Tom Clancy: “Never ask what sort of computer a guy drives. If he’s a Mac user, he’ll tell you. If not, why embarrass him?”. “Google+ for the Rest of Us” is just a euphemism for “Google+ for Dummies”, something he couldn’t have explicitly said, because using a social network is not the same as learning a new programming language.

I can vouch that Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice-President, Social, Google didn’t mean it when he commented: “We didn’t expect over 100,000,000 people to join Google+ so quickly. If we had, we might have written a tutorial like this one. Lucky for us, Guy has written this wonderful introduction to Google+. Highly recommended!”. You would never have published a manual like this Mr. Vivek Gundotra, because this would have meant acknowledging that Google+ was so difficult to use, it had such a pathetic UX that you needed a manual to make your way through it. And it would have corroborated your elitist attitude towards Google+ in its early days–restricting people to join it first, and then asking other low-life muggles to read through a book to use it. [I hope this Kawasaki Guy is not a Shill for Google.]

Guy is no ordinary guy–he is extremely popular, influential, and successful. And that, I feel, is the sole reason behind the popularity of his latest book-lookalike manual. The popularity of the manual book is also the reason of the large number of subscribers to Guy Kawasaki’s Google+ profile: at the time of writing, he has 2.9 million followers, more than Sergey Brin’s 2.4 million and comparable to Vic Gundotra’s 2.9 million. He also rewarded his loyal followers by providing a free downloadable copy of What-the-Plus-Google-Plus-for-the-Rest-of-Us via a link that expired in a couple days.

Smart move, Kawasaki. Use a product, write a user manual with hundreds of screenshots, crowdsource editing on Google+, publish the book, earn royalty, be talked about, and gain popularity on the newest and most powerful social network in town. And then do what? Continue on Alltop.com, which no one uses anyway, indulge in the heightened ego of this increased popularity, or just improve your Klout score, the usefulness of which is a topic for another debate.

Enough said. I would not waste more time of yours than that Guy did mine on his book. If you’d still like to waste some time and money, or need to validate your dumbness, go ahead and buy a copy which is available on the Kindle store for $2.99 (and Rs 176.51, now that Amazon has opened shop in India), or the paperback edition for $8 on Amazon and Rs 462 on Flipkart.

Just don’t complain later that we didn’t warn you.

[With inputs from Ishan Vyas.]

[You can follow our Google+ page, and trust me, we never used tips from this book.]

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