Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five or so reasons you'll want Google Plus

I got a Google Plus invite a little while ago. In case you ignore some of the chatter in Geek Land, it's Google's latest attempt at Social Media. After trying it for a couple of weeks. my verdict: thumbs up.

It's still in "Field Testing," which means you can't just go and sign up - you need an invite from someone who's already in. Which is easier than it sounds. There are numerous sites that will send you an invite just for asking (just Google "Google Plus Invites."). Heck - even I will.

Why would you want to get Google Plus (or G+ as it is sometimes referred to)? Let me list a few reasons I see.

Biggest reason you'll like Google+ : "Circles."

Circles are how you organize the subtle balance that exists within your relationships. They allow a high degree of granularity in what you choose to show. By putting someone in a Circle, you define what you want to share with them. When you post something you choose who to share it with: Family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances or the public at large. Note: these are just sample Circles - you can create as many or as few as you want to mess with, and name them anything.

Adding someone to a circle does not tell them which circle they are in -- so no bruised feelings from Aunt Sally. They can see posts you've shared with them, but not that you've put them in the "Prudish Old Relatives" Circle. And you can add people to more than one circle.

Adding someone to a circle does not automatically reciprocate by placing you in someone circle.  Aunt Sally might add you to her "Favorite Nephews" Circle, but you won't see any of her posts until you add her to a Circle, too. That's an important distinction, especially if you get an invite from someone expecting to automatically being set up to share stuff.

If you mark something Public, the whole world can see it -- friends and strangers alike. All they have to do is have you in a circle - any circle - and it will show up. You don't have to add them to a circle for them to be able to see it. In this way it's treads intriguingly close to Twitter territory. I'm waiting to see what the universe of mobile G+ apps looks like in the next 3 months.

If you are already using Gmail, G+ integrates nicely (and automatically) with your Gmail services. Google Chat can be done from the main G+ home page. It will also suggest people to invite from your Google Contacts. Your Picasa Web Account is also integrated (if you chose to make it so).

The other thing that I find deeply satisfying about Google+ is that I'm no longer bombarded with Farmwille accomplishments and related bullshit content. Sure you can turn those off in Facebook, but it takes some digging around, and Facebook doesn't make that sort of anti-social behaviour easy to get away with. Google+ has chosen instead to make this an environment for Adults.

A feature I haven't tried yet is the "Huddle,"  which sounds like a web cam / chat room sort of conglomeration.

There are downsides of course -- since technically it's still closed to people without invites, you'll find a lot of your friends aren't on G+ yet. The upside, if you want to look on the bright side, is the ratio of idiots to non-idiots favors Google Plus.

If you're already in and want to add  me to a circle or follow me (I'll most likely reciprocate), go to my Google Profile and click "Add to Circle," then choose which circle to add me to. My Google Profile can be found at: https://plus.google.com/100277960733821127666/posts. It's still a little barren but I'm slowly adding more snarkiness.

Be a trail blazer!

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