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Mike Riley

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

The Twitter Book Review

May 31, 2009

Co-written by the man responsible for all those tech books with animals on their covers, Tim O'Reilly shares his alpha-geek perspectives along with Twitter-savvy co-author Sarah Milstein.  Do they deliver definitive Twitter book?  Read on to find out.

Written for the generic (and probably older) Internet user, The Twitter Book is designed almost like a young reader's activity workbook, with full color pictures on the left-hand pages and brief sentences with large fonts on the right.  Even the 8 x 6 inch trim size, colorful graphics and brief page count is easily approachable.

This is not a book targeting developers - O'Reilly offers their Twitter API: Up and Running  book for that intended audience.  Although the Twitter API is mentioned a few times, it is only to alert readers that such an interface exists.  With that in mind, this is a book for anyone trying to wrap their head around the Twittersphere and the microblogging revolution in general.  It's also not a book for marketers looking to capitalize on the Twitter property, and no 'how will Twitter make money' projections are posited.  Instead, it's written as an easy step-by-step guide to using Twitter, combined with an infectiously enthusiastic sell for using the service.

The style of the book is written in a terse, tweet-like manner, with the authors keeping their imparting ideas brief yet information-rich.  For those seeking a longer form of the presentation, Tim and Sarah recorded an hour-long webcast on the subject.

The co-author voices are relatively easy to identify, with Tim's more focused on the transformational business and technology aspects and Sarah's around the social effects of the service.  Both share a copious number of URL's of various Twitter-related tools, from microblogging aggregators and trend analyzers to Twitter clients and search engines.

The authors also called upon their friend's tweets to help illustrate acceptable posting and interaction examples.  This approach works in the context of sharing the social connections and real-world connections services like Twitter offer their users.

Ultimately, this is a book that developers might consider buying for their partners, family members and friends bewildered by the Twitter phenomenon.  It succeeds strictly on the basis of providing an easy, non-threatening introduction to Twitter while reinforcing the nanosecond shift in news and meme-propagation that these microblogging platforms are delivering.

Incidentally, if you're so inclined, you're welcome to follow me on Twitter or Identi.ca @mriley.

Title:  The Twitter Book
Authors: Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
ISBN: 978-0596802813
Price: $19.99
Page Count: 240

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