Social

So, Is Google Plus Any Good?

-> HobbyMan on July 16 2011
Unless you've been living under a rock or you've only just heard about this new-fangled internet thing, you've probably read something about Googles latest delve into the world of social networking with the imminent public launch of Google Plus a.k.a. Google+.
At the moment, it's still in beta testing mode which means you can only get in by invitation, though at time of writing the current membership is over 10 million and the invites are still turned on. So, it's reasonably easy to get yourself an invite.

I'm not going to go through the how to's and where for's of how to get the best out of it as there are already thousands of blogs on the subject already and it hasn't even been launched yet. However, if you've just got a Google Plus account and are looking around on how to make sense of it, check out this link I came across: 61 Google Plus Tips, Thoughts, and Requests by Tristan Higbee.

You can also keep up to date on what's going on with Google Plus from the Twitterverse using a quick and nasty Hashtag search page I put together here.

So, is it any good?

Short answer; hell yeah!
Long answer, yes, but it needs serious tweaking.

When you first log in and get your circles sorted and start to follow the posts of your friends and others, it's a wonderful brave new world. The key function of G+ is the simplicity and brilliance of the circles idea. There are many great aspects to them but fundamentally, it means you get to choose who gets to see your posts, period!
So, no more sheepishly explaining to your family or job interviewer what you were doing in that photo.

The G+ equivalent to Facebooks Wall is your Stream, The Stream is the home page and it is basically a list of all your posts and the posts of anyone in your circles. The first major tweak that Google needs to sort out is the users inability to edit the stream. If you happen to be following some users who are prodigious posters, your stream will get filled up very quickly and can drown out posts from other people that you may be more interested in reading.
This point was made on Techcrunch where it was jokingly (sort of) referred to as "The Scoble Problem". Robert Scoble is a well known tech writer and is currently the 4th most followed user on G+. The problem is the sheer volume of posts you have to wade through when you add prolific bloggers like this to your circles.
True, you can view your stream by circles. But, the home page lists all the posts and comments from those in your circles and for the more popular posters, the number of comments can be insane.You can keep the comments under control if you use Chrome and load up the +Comment Toggle extension.
More G+ extensions here.

So, Google really needs to allow users to edit their stream so that even if you wish to follow someone's posts, you can choose which go to your home page while others can sit in a read later page.

Already, there are a large number of "users" following huge numbers of people, I can't think of any reason about what is up with these people other than the spammers have already set up base camp and are preparing for their assault. I hope google is watching these types of users and is going to do something about them as it is vital to G+'s survival that it not become a spammers/scammers playground like Facebook has become.

At the moment, there is not much to do except write posts or read posts by others. There are no groups, pages or games yet. There are also no adverts either which is probably because it's still in closed beta testing mode. Google will obviously want to montize this somehow after the public launch. I just hope they do it right and not distract from the easy going and engaging feel of the platform. No doubt, as soon as the API is released and opened up things will change considerably regarding functionality.

However, it has huge potential as even though it's being reported as a rival to Facebook, Google have not been caught in that trap by trying to be a better version of Facebook. They have very cleverly looked at the whole sharing/social scene on the net and examined how people actually interact in the real world and built something around the human aspect of relationships and not just Buzz+.

The truth no one knows how it will do once opened up to the public, all the prognosticators can do is watch and wait. Google is keeping things close to their chest and not letting us know what's coming next. My son logged in once, had a look around and said it was really cool and was looking forward to using it if he can get all his friends to move over. In the meantime, he's back on Facebook with all it's bells and whistles.
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