Google's experiments with social media have largely landed with a particularly embarrassing thud--Buzz was a security nightmare, Wave was incomprehensible, and Orkut is only popular in Brazil, for some reason. But Google is nothing if not determined, and today announced its biggest social push ever: Google+. It is definitely similar to Facebook at first glance, but there's a fundamentally different idea underlying Google+ that separates it from the pack. Facebook was an outcropping of networks like MySpace and dating sites--centered around the profile page. Google+, though, is a sharing engine.
Google+ is, despite that difference, essentially Google's riff on Facebook. It may not seem all that new at first, but it is a very big idea and implemented into Google's myriad properties, especially Gmail, on a scale we haven't seen before. Facebook was an outcropping of networks like MySpace and dating sites--centered around the profile page. Google+, though, is a sharing engine. Google describes the main thrust of Google+ as sharing: It's designed to let you share status updates, links, videos, and whatever else with exactly who you want.
To do that, Google created "Circles," which are essentially groups into which you place specific clumps of people--family, friends, co-workers, that kind of thing. Sharing is done to those circles, rather than to everyone in your social network (which might include coworkers, exes, relatives, and other undesirables). The layout of the Circles is pretty cute; removing a contact from a Circle blasts them into a puff of smoke, to which you are free to add your own laser noises. Interface has historically been a weak spot at Google, as many Android owners (or foes) will tell you, but the head of design for Google+ is an ex-Apple designer who seems to be overcoming Google's design woes.
There are a few other ways to communicate with a set group of people: There's an instant-messaging-type service for small groups, and a video chat service called Hangouts that lets you spontaneously jump into group video chats. The latter feature is definitely something we haven't seen before, and it's emblematic of Google's new strategy with Google+: Google wants you to spend as much time as possible in Google+, rather than the typical Google method of getting you in and out with your data quickly.
Then there's a feature called Sparks, which is sort of like an automated news feed--add your interests, and it gives you a stream of things you might care about, a bit like StumbleUpon, which you can then share with whomever you want. Presumably, Google Reader, Google's excellent RSS reader web app, will also have lots of Google+ sharing options. Sparks will run alongside your social feed (updates and shared items from people you know), though Google hasn't ruled out combining the two feeds sometime in the future.
Your actual network is created from other Google users, but you can add anyone, even if they don't want to use Google+. Just add an email address to a Circle, and that person can be emailed updates just like everyone else. According to this startlingly in-depth look at the birth of Google+, Facebook integration is not in the cards--apparently, Facebook is unwilling to work with an obvious competitor.
Google+ will be all over Google; aside from an Android (and, soon, iPhone) app, you'll see a link to your Google+ page whenever you use any Google web service, alongside the links to search, Maps, Reader, and all the rest. It's in a small private beta for now, as Google works on the kinks to avoid another Buzz situation. But this is going to be a major part of Google's identity from now on--if we're to believe the hype, this isn't just a new app. This is a new direction for Google itself. Whether people will use it...well, that remains to be seen.
this is good for businesses. i don't think it healthy for the average joe. from my experience with things like FB and MySpace, they are only for people with low self esteem. they need that attention because they are not happy with themselves. i just felt like that had to be said.
Your right, my low self esteem helps me to make my mom and father-in law so happy to see pictures of their gran-baby at will when then are out of state for long durations of time. Yup, you dont know what your talking about. FB is used for people to conect with other people. Familys across states who cant see each other much, and dont have the time to sit on the phone or take the time to send pictures in the mail.. or even email. Its a great new way to keep in touch with everyone. You sir are lost to us.. and of no use. I say good day!
lol yes low self esteem.... sounds to me like jedi has no friends on FB and is lashing out...MAYBE?! go troll some where else BRO
"Google+, though, is a sharing engine. Google describes the main thrust of Google+ as sharing: It's designed to let you share status updates, links, videos, and whatever else with exactly who you want. "
is this 'sharing' sort of like P2P? are we allowed to upload myriad kinds of files like our own apps aside from typical videos and pics? will it be integrated with google checkout, paypal, etc? can we use it in ways similar to ebay? can we also use it as a file storage system, like a personal cloud where only folks from my approved circles could access?
i see plenty of possibilities if file sharing really is the focus of this..
The video reminds me of that creepy JP Morgan commercial..
I think it's more of a photo/office documents/video sharing place... I don't think Google is dumb enough to fall in the shareware community...
I have EXTREMELY mixed feelings about social networking. for the most part it is such an extreme waste of human energy and time. On the other hand like one poster noted its great to keep up with friends and family. I live 9,000 miles away from my family, and through facebook I say pictures of my life with my best friend and my family back home. I also get to see pictures of my neices growing up. Otherwise I hate facebook with a passion. out of 300 "friends" i only care what 5 or 6 of them are doing. 3 of those are family members. 90% of the time its a popularity contest.
with blogs, and facebook, and twitter, we can put out entire lives out there for everyone to see and comment on. JUST BECAUSE WE CAN DOESN'T MEAN WE SHOULD! but in this day in age it almost seems like we have to. like its the social norm. Oh your not on facebook? thats lame! why dont you get on facebook. okay I will start a profile, but you want to keep some info secret. Then your girlfirend or wife wants to know why you dont have her listed as your GF or Wife. "are you trying to meat other girls?" so you post that info!. everyone likes talking about themselves, so you put your favorite music and movies and books. Then you read about some politician who pisses you off and in anger you feel the need to now display your political allegiance.
on the other hand it can bring freedom to people who don't always have it like in China and the Middle East right now. I think that is such an amazing and beautiful thing about the internet.
There was a great article cnn.com about how the max number of friends should be limited 150 on these social networking sites. Its a number that has held significance for a long time with cultural anthropologists. Its the maximum number that makes up a "tribe" and in essence our online lives are our tribes. the article explains that if we would limits our online friends to the MAX of 150 it would make all our interactions more meaningful.
(google "Social networking 'utopia' isn't coming" for the article)
social networking has its benefits, but for the most part its trash, like popmusic and fastfood.
I would like to try this Google plus thing, and just add those 10 people who are really the only people in the world I care anything about. Other wise. You dont know me. and I dont want you to.
@JediMindset thats a pretty short sited comment about low selfesteem. 1/7 of the entire world in logged into a social networking site. there is a myriad of reasons.
@Kherzhul: does the artificial-scarcity of intellectual property fill you up with excruciating joy upon your insides?
is there no room for copyleft in your digital rights managed heart? lol..
if the world is only populated by tight-fisted men, where would our civilization be?
the internet is used as freeware.
or did it suddenly become proprietary while i was pressing the refresh button?
needless to say, i'm not advocating for piracy.
i'm just saying that software distribution needs to be more flexible to cope with the times.
argh.. why is there no edit button here? i just realized my above statement is slightly irrelevant to the topic at hand..
are there mods here who can delete that?
I see google becoming succesful with this *IF* it follows the same guidlines facebook did in when it was nothing but another trend "seedling" so to speak. And what I mean by that is if you compare myspace and facebook, it's like comparing a PC to a Mac. Facebook has a cleaner, more accesible layout, as compared to the clutter of profile customizations and twisted social connections. This makes it easier for older, less tech 'savvy' people who are not familiar with computers in the first place, to set up a family, or a frienship based connection, if they are say "out of state" or "in another country". Plus, the security configurations of facebook restrict the people who can contact/view your profile, as is the opposite with myspace hence anybody with the desire can view the information (which is usually alot for teens) that you spill out online. Anything can really be accessed by a "creeper" browsing people with the preference of age, ethnicity, gender, religion or even sexual orientation.
yeah its that if people aren't using it to keep in touch with family and real "friends", than they are using it to feel better about themselves. with status updates like "today was a bad day now feel sorry for me" its that kind of thing that pisses me off. by having a facebook, myspace etc. you are asking for someone to hack your page.
Finally someone who shares the same view as I. I just don't get it. Maybe I'm too old but I like to call people and meet them face to face.
To spend more than 15 mins on a stupid webpage looking for encouragement, satisfy narcissistic cravings and wasting brainwaves is beyond me.
I might go as far as to say that I wouldn't join FB or any of those vain social sites even if they paid me.
glad that you feel that way about it. the way i see it is if you really care about someone you either talk to them face to face or phone. i had a FB once. but after a week i deleted it. i saw no point in it. it made sad seeing how lonely people are and how much they need attention to feel good.