Have you ever typed your name in the search box at Google? If you have, this book is for you. It will help you -as far as it is possible- influence the results that Google returns for your name. If you haven’t, this book is also for you. It makes a compelling case for why you may want to start typing your name in Google and what opportunities, both personal and professional, open to those who invest a little time managing their Web shadows.
Antony Mayfield opens his book Me and My Web Shadow by assuring us that we don’t have to read it cover to cover – it is designed to be surfed in and out of. This is good news, as many of us seldom have the time to read a book back to back these days. However, I found it difficult to put it down once I started reading it. This is a book packed with great insight on the evolution of the Internet from a separate cyber space to augmenting a single physical reality – our real world. A tool that has given us unlimited power to access and create information. Like any tool, we can learn to use and manage it better if we want to get the most out of it.
Me and my Web Shadow is structured into 3 distinct parts, each of them complementary but independent. Part 1 eases us into some of the concepts the book will develop later. Even for a hardened Internet professional like myself it is a refreshing reminder of the incredible transformation we’ve lived through in the past decade(s). Concepts like the fog of revolution and networks as relationships between people (as opposed to computers) helps us understand the concept, context and complexity of a Web Shadow.
Part 2 goes in depth into managing your Web Shadow. We journey from the reasons why it is a great idea to actively manage one’s Web Shadow through the exploration of our current Web Shadow, necessary to understand what it looks like and how we’d like to change it, through to planning our Web Shadow activity. Along the way, important issues like privacy, the dual professional/personal persona and netiquette are signposted for the reader.
Part 3 is all about practically putting the plan in place. Antony deals with the biggest issue first: where are we going to find time to do all this? His own experience makes this section especially inspiring, personal yet very actionable. The value locked in the mere 10 pages about embedding your Web Shadow workflow into your routine is easily worth the book’s cover price alone! Part 3 continues by going through the steps of creating and maintaining Web Shadow content, another gem of a section; then moving on to listing useful tools for managing your Web Shadow, again a section bursting with good information which Antony promises to keep updated at the book’s blog.
The rest of Part 3 and the book goes over each one of the 4 pillars of managing a Web Shadow in exquisite detail. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs are discussed extensively from the point of view of their role as constituent parts of a great Web Shadow. Each of them is described i.e. what are the strengths of Facebook, what is Twitter, why placing your own blog at the centre of your Web Shadow is a very good idea… Then Antony takes us through a detailed explanation of the functionality and best practice usage for each of them. Again, the amount of information packed in these 4 in-depth guides is unbelievable and again, even a long-time online professional like myself can find the content so insightful that is hard to resist jumping right in and looking at my Web Shadow in a new way.
Me and my Web Shadow is an excellent book. It’s not a business book and it’s not really a book about the Internet. It’s a book about understanding how our lives leave an imprint -a Web Shadow- as we live parts of our lives online and others mention us -write our names, tag our photos- as they live parts of theirs. This is a book that helps open our eyes to the potential that a well managed Web Shadow opens before us. It is a book you cannot afford to miss.