So this Google Plus is the new black right? I may not be a devoted follower of fashion, but as a full on Neophile I cannae resist a new technology-ey thing! And seeing as all the cool kids are on Google Plus (all right none of the cool kids, but all the geeks, nerds and internet weirdos are!) I was desperate to give it a go.
I really like the idea of Social Networking. I use Facebook a lot (despite the fact I despise it to the very photons it displays) and I really love Twitter. Both are massively successful and pervasive. So whilst I was massively keen to try Plus I had some healthy scepticism about whether or not there was some space for a brand new social network to thrive in.
I have to say I was on sign up instantly impressed. Before I even got to know about how to use Plus I just liked the look and feel of the place. It was quick and clean. In fact it looked a lot like Facebook minus all the tons and tons of irritating rubbish that FB has been piling on over the years.
As I started to use it, it became increasingly clear to me that Plus has some real advantages over both Twitter and Facebook and that whether or not there is space for it, this effort from Google has a real chance of muscling into the market.
Google Plus has a feature called “circles” this is where you organise your contacts into various different groups. You can have circles for Friends, Family, Work, Hobbies etc. This becomes really useful in terms of sharing because it allows you to be much more selective about who you share stuff with compared to the all or nothing approach on Facebook/Twitter.
There are lots of stories about people getting into trouble with work because of stuff posted on Facebook/Twitter etc, but because in the main everyone who are friends with/following you see’s everything you post it can be quite limiting. Most people’s have grandparents on Facebook now and let’s be honest most of us have stuff we wouldn’t want to share there. I know a lot of people who have two or more FB/Twitter accounts to separate work, pleasure and family. The Google Plus circles mean that actually you can do all of that within one social network and one account. This is a darned good thing if you ask me.
Also the circles mean you are able to follow people who are not contacts of yours but from whom you want information. Twitter style following in a Facebook style social network is another nifty feature. Clearly the Plus engineers and writers spent a lot of time looking at what was good about FB and Twitter and tried to amalgamate the two.
The “Sparks” feature is a way of finding content that might interest you. This is a pretty vanilla feature at the moment. It gives you a pretty anodyne, unisex, list of topics you might be interested in. You can customise this to your tastes (though annoyingly it thinks “Football” is called “Soccer”, and “American Football” is called “Football”. What sort of godless heathens programmed this thing? ). I suspect that as Plus grows, and Google get information about the things you “plus one” that the recommendations will become more forensic. If it turns out to be a Last.FM of internet content that this might one day end up being the killer app of Plus.
Some pretty cool technology stuff. Had a quick go on the “hang out” facility for the group video chat and I have to say it is very, *very* impressive. I shall look forward to seeing if it becomes a useful tool. Also the Android phone app is very impressive. Given that this is still in beta testing and the app is in its first iteration I am blown away. It is already much better than the official apps of both Facebook and Twitter if you ask me.
So then will Plus be a success. An interesting take on that here, obviously Facebook and Twitter are established in the sphere. I think Plus will be a success but I am not sure to what degree. I suspect that it will have really deep, really easy to use, integration into Chrome Browser, Android 4.0 (Ice cream sandwich) and all other Google products. If this is the case then I expect by a process of sort of internet use osmosis it will do pretty well because it will be easy to use in lots of different ways/places.
We shall see. For me, right now, it is a network I like and I am enjoying using.