For those of you who’ve mutely nodded your way through conversations about web design, browsers, and cloud computing, Christmas has come early—last month Google released a handy new e-book explaining the fundamentals of the net in the simplest way possible. Even the most seasoned internet geeks (and I use the term affectionately) might learn something new. Built in HTML5, “20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” covers everything from programming languages to privacy—and did I mention it’s free?
4 Things About “20 Things”
Without going over each chapter in detail (read it yourselves you lazies), here’s the general overview:
It’s simple—packaged as a children’s book without the patronizing undertone, the language is clear and uses laymen’s terms to explain concepts like TCP/IP, browser extensions, and malware. Maintenance questions (“What happens if a truck runs over my laptop?”) are given their due, and there’s also a chapter dedicated to a glimpse of the internet’s future.
It’s pretty—as an HTML5 e-book, “20 Things” does a nice job of showing off the design technologies it explains. Pages “turn” nicely without pesky reloads, the illustrations (supplied by German artist Christoph Niemann) are animated, and the “turn down the lights” feature dims all but the pages for better contrast.
It’s shareable—a drop-down bookmark doubles as a social media button that allows readers to share the guide on Facebook, Twitter, or Buzz. Alternatively, pages can be shared individually as each has its own URL.
It’s good timing—with the release of this e-guide, attention is being redirected to the imminent release of Google Editions, a program that allows customers to purchase and read digital copies of books on any device with internet access and a web browser. Smart move, Google (as long as you deliver eventually).
20 Things Later...
All in all a neat little educational tool for the not-so-savvy internet user. Keep in mind that the e-guide also functions offline, so you can keep reading after you’re disconnected. And, for those intrigued by the content but less interested in the “e-book experience”, just download a pdf version of the book to print.
If you’re looking to read more about Google’s “20 Things”, check out this Search Engine Land article on a print ad for the guide. You can also get insight into the motives behind the book’s creators via Product Marketing Manager Min Li Chan’s post on the Official Google Blog. And if the book itself doesn’t do much for you (or you’re just very, very eager to learn), you can find a short list of alternative “internet guides” on the Independent.co.uk post, "The complexities of the web and internet browsers explained in simple English".