This is a very straightforward reference book for mental health
professionals not familiar with the Web and its offerings. Divided
into three sections; Basic Map and Tools, Getting Answers to Professional
Questions and, Patient Education Resources; it is a wonderful book
to peruse and keep on one's desk for ideas about "where to
I like this book most because of its professional advice and warnings
in the gray area covering the differences between the face-to-face
world and the Internet that a Newbie wouldn't know about:
"There are some caveats to seeking online publication that
you should be aware of. Publication in a peer-reviewed, print
journal is the apex of professional accomplishment. Publication
on a mailing list is equal to scribbling your study on a piece
of paper and tacking it onto the department's bulletin board."
Sites are rated with a clear explanation of the rating system
and it's kind of fun to check a few and calibrate one's own impressions
with those of the author's. The warm, historical aside explaining
"Awards, Badges, and Popularity Ratings on the Web"
is lots of fun and that and other, similar asides, help create
a friendly tone for the book.
Another of the things I like about the book is also the one I
have reservations about; because it is for professionals, the
book does not "baby" the reader but assumes they can
understand what they read and keep up. That is especially evident
and laudable in the areas discussing online research. However,
I feel the first section explaining the Internet and its tools
(and Appendix C, "How to Get Online") is sometimes not
detailed enough and sometimes too tangential for a beginner.
My husband moderates professional computer newsgroups and loves
them but in 10+ years on the Internet and with a university, upper
level, Advanced Internet course containing assignments requiring
me to search and join them, I have never quite understood how
to make my way around and use newsgroups and many mailing lists.
I have reservations about whether a new Internet user will understand
either from reading this book.
I think I would find some sites online to help do some of the
teaching about online topics and not go into such detail as, for
example, the differences between subject guides and search engines,
so early in the book. If one is not online-oriented yet, some
of the text sounds like hairsplitting and doublespeak.
"The search engines listed in this section are for finding
information on the Internet's discussion forums (Usenet newsgroups)
or on specific mailing lists. Many of the search engines reviewed
earlier also allow searching within Usenet newsgroups."
This book is great because of its wealth of information and pointers
to where one can find additional information. I can only imagine
how hard it is to write about a subject that is best taught and
explained by one's personal experience. This book makes a good
starting point for a mental health professional's online experience.
© 2002 Margo McPhillips
Margo McPhillips is a 1972 graduate of the University of Maryland
with a Bachelors degree in Sociology. She is currently interested
in the use of books on the Web, bibliotherapy, genealogy as an
online family/generational activity, and and is enrolled in the
to earn a Certificate of Professional Development in Web Programming
from the University of Illinois to help her with her seven Web
sites. Visit her new UserActive site under development at http://mcphillips.ecorp.net/.