Sometime at around the beginning of July, Google presented their new social network that they called Google+ . to a limited group of Beta testers. They have controlled the growth of their new network by making the site by invitation only, and at times throttling the the rate that the invitees could join. this is pretty much the same system that has been used since Google introduced Gmail. While the Google plus is still by invite only, Invites are pretty easy to come by. Anyone reading this can get one here. Existing users received 150 invites. At any rate Invites aren’t so scarce and Google doesn’t seem to be throttling back anymore.
One might ask, ” What is this Google Plus, and why should I care?” Google plus or G+ is Googles answer to Facebook, with a little Twitter thrown in just for kicks. Google attempts to pattern its social media in much the same way people do in real life. We may have our circle of friends that we pal around with, we also have families and families might be divided into his and her sides. We have our work mates, and maybe we have people who we aren’t particularly close to, but we might be interested in what they have to say. All these different types of relationships can be catagorized into circles.
What does all this mean? Well if college student Bill wants to discuss the party he went to over the weekend, He might be comfortable discussing it with his group of close friends, but he might not want to include his parents or even his future employer on the discussion. On the other hand the great photo he took of Steve Jobs, using the Android phone is worthy of letting the whole world see. With G+ one has a the ability to select just who you want to be able to see your posts.
As Google + spreads throughout the Interweb we are learning the Good the Bad and The Ugly.
- The Good: is that it is much more thought fully laid out than face book or any of Googles previous attempts. The interface is very user intuititive, and G+ works well with Googles other offerings such as Docs and Reader and Gmail. There is more thought given to privacy, and fun features such as Huddles which is a very kewl video conferencing toy. Although G+ is still Beta it is pretty smooth and doesn’t seem to have many glitches. G+ is great for picture management and its integration with piccassa is practically seamless. The phone apps are easy to use and uploading pics from a Droid is simply automagical.
- The Bad. Old Facebook user will continue to be Facebook users. We use social networking not because of the the technology, but because of the people we want to keep in touch with. People are comfortable with the existing technology, and G+ competition has resulted in Facebook in making improvements. While Facebook doesn’t offer the ease of Circles, they have added some control on just who posted messages will reach. While its not circles, to many its good enough. The folks who are willing to try out G+ are the technocrats, and curious, but most just don’t understand any reason to change. It takes energy to learn a new social network. So the technocrats and technocurious are just left talking to each other. About what? About things G+ of course.
- And The Ugly. The ugly is that this Google. There is a general distrust of Google. After all they gather and profit from information they gather from us. They are proven willing to sell out users to governments and copyright stormtroopers, so there is no expectation of real privacy. To further provide evidence that Google doesn’t respect the users privacy they have taken a hard line insisting users use their real names. Some folks (like myself) are better known on the internet by a pseudonym than their real name. Google hasn’t handled this diplomatically either, not only canceling the G+ accounts , but Gmail and Doc accounts as well.