Monday, July 11, 2011

Some thoughts on Google+ (plus)

I tend to put great faith in Google. First of all, their motto is so simple; "Don't be evil." More people should have that motto. I can think of a couple in particular, but we won't go there today.

I use gMail, Google Voice, Chrome, Google maps, Google calendar, Google reader, Google Talk, Google Sync, YouTube, Picasa ... heck, I host my blog on Blogger - a Google property. So the thought of Google doing social media is somewhat arousing. But Google+ is not their first effort. Heck, it's not even their second. The last attempt at social media - Buzz - was pretty bad. Yes, Buzz will pick up this blog post ... and all my others ... but I never see any action there. It's pretty useless.

Google+, however, has a certain degree of promise. Google+ is more than a "new social media site." It's a new way of doing social media, taking everything Google already does and tweaking it with a social aspect. Most notable for me is their rolling of Picasa into the Google+ realm. I've used Picasa for years and almost all of my photos are there. And those that aren't there, I'm in the process of porting them over.

Side note on photos: Going through and tagging and uploading photos can bring back a lot of memories. It can be a roller coaster experience.

I like some of the ways Google+ is Facebooky. I like the photos and the status updates. I like the commenting. And the ability to share posts. I LOVE the ways it's NOT Facebooky: No Mafia Wars. No Farmville.

Facebook, of course, if king of social media. Everyone's there. I'm hoping that everyone gets to Google+, because as cool as Google+ is, if the rest of the world isn't there, it won't last.

It would seem to me as though Google is trying to do a few things with G+. They're trying to catalog the internet, something Facebook has been doing for the past couple years. And they're trying to reinvent your ID. They want it to be your email address .... or more to the point, your gMail address.

Scenario: You go to a party and meet someone. They tell you their name. You go home and look them up on Facebook by their name. I get the feeling that Google wants your gMail address to be your new universal identity. I'm not Scott Leffler. I'm "scott dot leffler at gmail dot com." Guess it's better than being a number. It's hardly coincidental that you pretty much need a gMail address to use any Google product.

The advent of Circles is pretty neat. I like the fact that I can post things aimed at certain people or groups of people. Maybe I want my friends to know that I had a bender ... but don't want work to know. Maybe I want my music friends to read a review on a local band, but I know my social media friends won't care.

I also love the fact that you can direct a post at only one person. And it will only be seen by that one person. Just type @ and then their name. As long as you don't share it with any of your circles or publicly, it'll just go to that person. And you can comment back and forth.

I like the "hangout" concept - which allows you to video chat with 10 people simultaneously. I haven't used it. But I like the possibility. For some reason video chat really hasn't caught on. I consider myself to be somewhat pioneering and I've only done video chat a handful of times. We'll see if that changes.

The biggest problems I see with Google+ is the lack of people there currently (although the people I thought would migrate there first have done so), and the lack of other things working with it. Examples would include FourSquare and GetGlue. I imagine that will change soon, although Google has "places," which is kind of a FourSquare competitor, so maybe they won't play nice, although, I doubt it. After all, *Google's motto* ...

The other issue I have is their failure to have a BlackBerry app up and running. I've noticed Google is slow to adapt to the BlackBerry, one of the primary reasons I never really bought into Buzz. This won't be an issue for me long, as I've decided to upgrade to an Android phone when I get the chance.

You can find me on Google+ by clicking here ... Be sure you add me to your "cool people" circle and not the "people my mom warned me about" circle.

Of course, I'm still on Facebook and Twitter ... for now.