In my opinion, social media has plateaued. Facebook is the norm. Everyone’s on it, everyone knows that everyone uses it, and the shock of grandma posting status updates is fading into the past. With Myspace’s death/resurrection cycle not getting anyone’s attention, and Twitter celebrating a half-decade of chirps, what’s a boy gotta do to get excited about the Internet these days?
Remember when you got that new toy, or checked out that new website for the first time? You thought you would never be able to fully understand its functionality, as it all seemed almost larger than life; every new step was more exciting than the last.
This is how I’m currently feeling about Google+, Google’s new social networking platform.
When Facebook launched, I was an early adapter. Only a few universities were allowed to use the service, and Elon was one of them. This was in 2004, and most people remember when the concept of a clean, virtual community was too much to comprehend by many, especially those who weren’t all too tech savvy.
In today’s age, the age of Google+, this concept is a norm. Friending, liking, poking, adding, and deleting: these actions are almost ubiquitous with our day-to-day lives; even stating this fact has become mundane. So what will become of this new service in a world that has already become accustomed to using what is hailed as the only worthwhile social media website on the planet? Where will Google+ stand, and what will set it apart?
I’ve been a member of Google+ for three days, and I have still yet to learn everything about it. I attribute this to lack of activity due to lack of ‘friends’ or ‘followers.’ I’ll take you through what I’ve learned from visiting Google+ for a few days and state my opinions on each feature. I will avoid explaining each feature, as Google has done a great job doing so in its online videos.
The first and most important feature of Google+ is the use of ‘Circles.’ I am a neat freak. I like things organized, and believe it or not, with two blogs and a personal portfolio, as well as an ever-updated Facebook page, I like my privacy. Circles are by far the most interesting and appealing feature about Google+ so far. This will be a lifesaver for the closet party girls ready to share their weekend with everyone except their bosses and professors.
I think it’s interesting that you can add people to your circles without them adding you to theirs. This is a nice feature especially if you don’t particularly want to hear someone’s online blabber constantly. (I’m sure as Google+ etiquette evolves, it will become almost mandatory to add those who add you, somewhat like Twitter.)
The UI of Google+ is a modern design lover’s dream come true. Clean, clean, clean—and the photos are displayed large and beautifully. I prefer this to Facebook, as well as the profile, which takes a lead from Twitter’s one-line description and simply allows you to share the bare-minimum essential information with the public (if you choose). Even Facebook’s ‘interests’ accompanied by a stock photo is becoming a bit too Myspace for my liking.
The photos tab is a bit confusing to me. So far I only have a few photos of those in my circles, but in my stream I am allowed to see many more if someone posts an album. Again, this is confusing, and I don’t know what is regulating the photos in my photos tab and those in my stream from becoming separate entities, or why the photos in my photos tab appear.
The ability to filter your Stream by Circle is great. This will come in handy for when that pesky etiquette comes into play, and you have to add someone you don’t want to, but then need to shut them up digitally.
Sparks are pretty amazing as well—a small and precise Google search pertaining to subjects you are interested in. These Sparks, if you add them, are almost like interests on Facebook, but news regarding these subjects are updated in real time and allow you to share with members in your circles, so you never have to feel like you don’t know the latest news regarding Russian gymnastics.
A few other things that I like about Google+.
Its integration with Gmail and allowing my chats to pop up right where I’m used to them being, as well as having my notifications bar in the top right away from everything else.
How many times have you congratulated someone on something, then had your phone or inbox constantly ring or expand because 9,000 of their friends are doing the same and your name is attached to the post? No more of that, thanks to the Mute feature on posts. I have yet to start a Hangout, or group video chat, but I’m sure that’s pretty cool, and it threatened Facebook enough to integrate Skype into their chat feature. Also, Google+ won’t allow fake names, but it will allow animated .gifs, so you can watch those kittens prance around on a loop for hours!
I’m sure as I bug more and more people into adding me to their Circles, I will see more and more activity within Google+, and I’m very interested to see how it will stand up to Facebook over time. I would love to re-visit this article in a year and give you all an update on my opinion of the service—that is, if I don’t stop using it altogether. So far, so good: Nice job, Google. +1.