Initial Thoughts on Google+


In A Sentence:

If Twitter and Facebook had a baby, and that baby was much prettier than Facebook but not nearly as cool as Twitter.

In A Few More Sentences:

There's a child-like joy to the actual experience of setting up google+: you drag people into circles, and if you're particularly inclined (I am so inclined) then you can imagine you're creating your own version of Dante's Inferno (yes, I am aware how sinister it is that I am sending all my friends/acquaintances to Hell. Rest assured, other contacts have created far less family-friendly monikers for their circles).

But I digress.

The most important thing here is that G+ is providing a real competitor to Facebook. We were this close to total monopolic consolidation on the Internet: Google as the only search, Facebook as the only "friends" sharing system*, Amazon as the books-opoly, and so on. It may not seem that Google going up against Facebook is the biggest shake-up in online power, but we all know that competition is what leads to progress, to better consumer experiences, to better products.

While I feel that tech savvy (particularly Internet savvy) people are going to latch on to the new service, I think it poses problems for more average users (I partially consider this a positive. For instance, your grandma won't be using google plus). Setting up a profile took a few steps too many for my liking. The often touted privacy features felt removed from all the other account settings (they were in no way obvious), and even simple settings for key G+ features like +1 required leaving the G+ interface and moving back into the main Google account settings.

But what is it for? Twitter took a long time to reach critical mass, because it's added advantage wasn't clear for a very long time; people thought it was just a streamlined Facebook wall for a long time. Google has already proven itself untrustworthy when it comes to protecting dissidents when government push comes to court-ordered shove. I suspect we'll learn more about G+ utility when the business pages come out later in the year.

A Few Suggestions to Make Google Plus Better:

Allow the creation of Venn Diagrams, so you can see how your networks interact (this isn't actually useful, but it sure would be fun. I can see the rom-com now: "The Man at the Center of my Googleverse").

Make it easier to find friends. Specifically, allow imports from twitter. Right now, if people don't have a google mail account, you can't search for them (and sometimes you can't find them even if you do).

Why isn't G+ integrated into Google Reader? I would enjoy +1-ing interesting articles, BUT I CANNOT.

Final note:

That image at the top? It apparently inspired the whole project. Google had it emblazoned across the walls on the fourth floor of their offices.

*I'm not including twitter in this because it really is a tool, not a destination. It enables communication, unprecendented activism, and lightning speed information sharing. It's simplicity and basic use is its best recommendation. It's not competing with Google+.

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9 Responses to “ Initial Thoughts on Google+ ”

  1. Great post! This might be a dumb question but it's one I'm curious about: why would I want Google+ if I've got FB?

  2. Wouldn't that pic have made more sense for google wave? You may remember that attempt. :P

    I haven't seen too much happening with G+, yet. It may grow fast, but so far, it's been kinda dull.

    -- Peter

  3. @Belle I think it depends on what you use FB for. If you only use it to keep in touch with friends and family then I see no need to switch to G+.

    However, I am finding it's a lot more intuitive to use that facebook. The ability to adjust privacy settings specifically to certain "circles" is a great advantage if you enjoy sharing content and linking articles and that sort of thing. The privacy is also important if you don't want to share photos with everyone, and it's helpful that photos are stored by an external service, not by Google+ itself.

    Most importantly, it's really intuitive. It's even cleaner than Facebook was in the beginning, which is really saying something.

  4. @Peter I've followed a ton of bloggers that I interact with, and I am enjoying how much easier it is to converse on G+ than it is on either twitter or facebook.

    And I'm glad I can mute threads that I have zero interest in.

  5. Yeah, it was around this afternoon that I started to have second thoughts about Google+. Yesterday, flush with the prospect of adding people, it was like a pleasant narcotic. But now that circles are quantifiable data, and I can't see what other people's circles are, I feel as if I'm somehow on the other end of some practical joke administered from Ortega y Gassett studies. I mean, I'm friending everybody. Seems the decent thing to do. But when they add me, are they friending me? I took a long walk and briefly contemplated this question (among several more important ones) and I concluded that I preferred the unquantifiable "circles" in real life, which seemed more fluid, more Venn-like, and less concrete than what G+ is promulgating. Plus, the prospect of devoting another hour of my online time to something each day makes my digital involvement that much more full-time. And if I expect to get any reading or writing done, I may have to cut down on other activities -- which I suppose means losing my shot at getting into another circle.

    Perhaps this is circular logic. What I really meant to say was that this was a nice overview of the pros and cons. I do very much love the idea of Facebook being on edge -- especially since the bastards have been collecting our data and not valuing our privacy. On the other hand, what is Google collecting? I shudder to think.

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  7. Ed, Google+ seems to have inspired some sort of existential crisis! Are we but the sum of the circles we are placed in? Do those circles ever intersect? Why do people want to put me into a box? What if I'm a square peg, will I ever fit into a round circle?

    Damnit, Google+, what have you done to my self-regard?

    To be honest, I already have a fairly clear idea of how I might use G+: as a partial replacement of Google Reader. Only, instead of just following the posts made by bloggers I respect, the +1 feature lets you see what they recommend as they browse the internet (and if they browse the internet anything like how I do, then this could leads to hundreds of hours of interesting reading material.)

    I am concerned about what Google is collecting. But until it becomes clear how our data will be used, then Google+ will remain a tool for self-promotion, not a reflection of self-image.

  8. I am not into google+ yet but I am very active in facebook. In this case, I am thorn between the two (facebook or google+). Which between the two shall i constantly use in the future? Which is better to use. Some questions I have in mind.

    Great post. Lisa from Beginner Free Guitar Lessons

  9. Lisa,

    I've gone very cold on facebook in the past year or so, like many people who are tired of the way they're dickeying privacy settings.

    Based on usage in the past week or so, I'm starting to think that Google+ is more likely to take market share from twitter, esp. people who don't already use twitter and might have started in the future.


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