Saturday, July 2, 2011


In case you don't have G+ yet, or just don't want to read the "Welcome" screen...
I just got in today, and so far, it's pretty spiffy.

Each person has a bunch of different "Circles" which are basically groups of people you can broadcast to. I imagine that on a boring day you could make a Venn Diagram to try to sort people, but that would get complicated quickly, unless you lump everyone into a "People" circle.

So adding people to circles is easy. You hover over their name, and there are a bunch of checkboxes you can tick. It's a very intuitive system!

Interestingly enough, you don't have to have someone in your circle for you to be in their circle. It's sort of like Twitter's following system, where you follow people, and people follow you except you broadcast, and people broadcast to you. When you view a person's page, you can see who is in their circles, and who added them to their circle. It's pretty general though - it doesn't say who is in what circle, but that's probably for the better. (Oh. My. God. I cannot believe that she has a circle without me in it. Wait 'til I tell everyone.) Back to categories. There's even a category to see the posts of people who have you in their circles who you don't have in your circles called "Incoming". Of course, the "Stream" category is all-encompassing, which is nice. Even better...

Yeah. None of that.
However, with the advent of Google's Web Store and Google+, I worry that if the two are (they will be) interlaced, you'll never see the end of Angry Birds high scores. Google+ is already connected to some other Google services, like Picasa and Gmail. People you add to circles without G+ can be sent emails with the message. These emails also invite them to G+! G+ also has chat; perhaps that will be integrated with Gmail chat?

It'll be interesting to see how this and Buzz interact. One or the other will die. Buzz has been a success so far, but it's basically a more minimal version of G+; perhaps it'll just be dropped? Currently peoples' profiles have a "Buzz" tab which lets you see what they've posted to that, but that seems really awkward. Like social networks within social networks within. No. Just no. Stop.

Posting is easy, and attaching photos, videos, and links (or your location, though I don't know why you'd do that) is very easy. In addition, rather than "liking" posts, you can +1 them.

It's a little change, but I really like this feature. Now if only we could give posts -1 as well, and have branching comment paths and then....waitagoddamnsecond.

There's hangouts which are basically video conferences/chats, and sparks which are interests/likes.

One very cool feature (to me at least) is on the profile screen.

You can see what your info screens look like to different people. I personally like limiting what information about me gets out and what doesn't, so this is great. You can also keep track of all your "+1's"; I try not to leave stray marks all around the web, so this is pretty cool as well. You can also download all your posts and comments if that's what you're into.

Unfortunately, somewhat opposite to the whole privacy deal is that no matter who you limit your posts to, anyone who has access to that post can share it with anyone else.

I really don't like this. And while you CAN prevent your posts from being shared, not only does it not apply to comments you make, it has to be applied individually to every post. Ew.
I suppose we'll all just have to be more careful about what we post to the internet. (Pffffftt. Like that's happening.)

In other words, Google is trying to solve the whole privacy issue by....eliminating it altogether?
I think that they should make it easier to be private, not harder, certainly.

You can also edit posts and comments, in addition to preventing your posts from being commented upon. I really like the edit feature. It even adds a (Last edited) tag so people don't go back and change their words!

So, what makes G+ better than Buzz or Facebook or Twitter or any other social network?
It's Google. They'll rule us sooner or later anyways. Give in now, get goodies sooner.

Pros: Intuitive. Doesn't take forever to figure out. (As I'm just reintroducing myself to Facebook, I can attest that Facebook does take a forever to figure out.)
Groups are easier.
No application spam. Though that may change.

Cons: Privacy. I like privacy. Then again, most social networking sites don't have great privacy. (Looking at you Facebook)
Beta. There's not many people on it due to it being Beta, so that kinda defeats the whole social networking bit. Unless you've got a slew of imaginary friends.
No real reason yet to switch. Like any other new application, Google will have to give a reason for users to switch better than "You can do all the same stuff here." Google has to do something to make G+ unique, and it has to be something social network users want but don't have. What might that thing be? No idea. Maybe porn in the sidebars.

Addendum: I just found this out. So, there's an updates widget in the top-right. That's all fine and good, but when you click on it, it loads updated conversations, and lets you post on them. That's amazing.

Also, hovering over the post date of a post tells you the exact time it was posted. (Yes, like Facebook and many other sites.)

So my final message? G+ is a shiny Facebook, but doesn't have a compelling reason to use it yet. It's got a few minor things on Facebook, but xkcd summed it's defining quality up already.
Unfortunately, I don't think that's enough.

I might do another update in days to come as G+ is polished up and as I discover new features.

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