Google Tries Again: Google+

23:36 Tue 28 Jun 2011
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Before, there were Orkut, Wave, and Buzz; now, there’s Google+, Google’s latest foray into social networking. I don’t have an account (if any of my Googly friends want to help me out there, I’d be happy to try it out), and most of my info comes from the intro, the announcement, and Stephen Levy’s piece.

First of all, I’d like to see it do well. Not because I want Google (or any other company) to dominate the Internet, but because I want there to be real competition in the social networking realm, and feel like it might take Google, at this point, to provide that.

The features they’ve announced at the initial launch:

  • Mobile: Making it easy to add your location to posts, making photo upload easier (and seamless), and something called “Huddle”, a group-messaging feature that sounds like it might be promising.
  • Hangouts: Group video chat, but skewed to social “gatherings” instead of business meetings. ChatRoulette, but only with friends, and with group capabilities? The implementation is everything, of course, but I feel like this could actually work, and beyond that could legitimately be really useful. Group video chat thus far seems an unsolved problem, and if this solves it while tying it into a social networking platform, that could be a huge boost for Google’s efforts in this area.
  • Sparks: I’m not at all convinced by this. Partly because it seems like it’s been solved relatively well already—people use existing forms of communication to share interests and it works fine. Maybe the implementation is amazing, or maybe it’s just an easy way to share stuff from within Google+, but right now it looks weak to me.
  • Circles: This could be the big one. Categorizing friends into different groups, essentially, but at the core of the entire product, and not as a difficult-to-use afterthought. If Google+ works, it’ll be because they did this well—and because they’re right about people wanting this. I certainly want this feature, and in the last in-depth discussion I had about social networks, everyone else at the table wanted it also. As with all of it, the implementation is critical, but even a coarse ability to structure who I want to share what with would be a major draw for me.

I intend to try it out as soon as I get an account, and I hope it works out better than Google’s previous attempts—I must say that so far, it looks more promising than they did. I’m naturally suspicious about privacy and information, but, perversely, Facebook may have lowered the bar so much that I’m not much more willing to trust Google with personal data than I would have been a couple of years ago.

If it turns out to work, and I like it, I’ll evangelize—because that’s what I’ll have to do to make it more useful for me. If there are enough people who feel the same way, who knows, maybe it will end up challenging Facebook.

One Response to “Google Tries Again: Google+”

  1. jeffliveshere Says:

    One of the things I really like about it is that it overcomes, at least partially, one of the hurdles of a new social networking site by allowing you to post things to people in one circle, and even the folks who aren’t on g+ will still get an email of your post. That seems like a fine way to “recruit” folks, although I can see it could backfire as well…

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