I finally had some time to play around with Google+, the new social network from Google.
I was inclined to dislike Google+. Google got me twice recently with their over-hype of Google Wave and Google Buzz, both of which were awful. After those two debacles, I believe I was on record saying, “That’s two strikes Google!” Well, Google will be happy to know that they’re back in my good graces with this one.
Google+ is very, very similar to my preferred social network, Facebook, but it is, in fact, better. Although I am a Twitter user, I do not like their interface. I know there are plenty of twitter fans out there, but I’m not one of them. So Google+ has them beat by a mile in my book.
Basically, Google learned the lessons of those that have come before. Sleek, clean interface (sorry MySpace), and more-tightly integrated security over who can see what (sorry Facebook), while keeping all the good features, such as image tagging and “liking” a post (or +1 in Google+ lingo). And the best part so far? No annoying game messages! (sorry Farmville) We’ll see if that changes in the future. I have a bad feeling there’s no way to stop it.
The best part about Google+ in my opinion is the integrated concept of “circles”.
Basically, all of your friends are categorized into one or more circles, such as “friends”, “family”, “acquaintances”, or anything else your heart desires, such as “college friends” or “red-headed step-children”. Then, whenever you do anything on Google+, you decide which circles you’d like to do it in. For example, are you telling the entire world what you had for breakfast, or just your family? Are you sharing that picture with your co-workers, or just your close friends? Do you want to see the whole stream/newsfeed, or do you want to skip the updates of mere acquaintances?
I have been using the lists feature on Facebook for quite some time in this manner, and I love it, but it always sort of feels like a late-game add on. It is a bit more difficult to use and manage, not nearly so tightly integrated. Whenever I tell someone about it, they’re always surprised to hear it exists. And really, I think it more closely represents the way we *want* to use a social network. There are some things we want to share with some people, and not others. We need the ability to sort through the overwhelming amount of information and read the updates we care about.
So, +1 to you Google+!
The problem, however, is that the thing that makes social networks social is, well, people to socialize with. Since most of the people I interact with are on Facebook, then I have to be on Facebook too. I can’t just up and switch over because I feel like it, abandoning my entire existing social network. And, although Google+ is better than Facebook, it is not *enough* better, that everybody is going to up and move. So, for the time being, I guess I’m stuck with two websites to check.
So, if you’re on Google+, you can find me here. And if you’re not, drop me a comment, and I’ll send you an invite.