Social networks are an interesting experience, to say the least. I was first introduced back during MySpace’s height of popularity, but was never much into it. How the social network world has changed since then. With so many options and differences between the social networks, it gets easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer choice. It also took me a long while to get used to social networking. The idea of being out there on the world wide web was a scary notion. Eventually, I became rather hooked into it. And I’ve met people from all over the world and gotten introduced to the various viewpoints and cultures and its been lots of fun and I have been striving to keep it that way.
So when Google announces a new social network, Google+, I was…less than enthusiastic about it. I am not really that big of a Google fan, or at least I haven’t been despite using them for the last five years. They were just one of the best choices I had access to and for utility reasons kept using them. Had they massively screwed up or something during the past five years, I would have dropped them and moved on to the next best thing, but I haven’t had any reason to do so. So, I sit comfortably, using Gmail, GCalendar, Greader and so on. When iCloud was announced, I moved a few things over to it, but I continue to use Google’s services as they are numerous and useful. Funny enough, Google+ and the website updates has been getting me back to using their web-based applications consistently for the first time in a long time. That’s probably intentional ;).
I have been on Twitter and Facebook for some time now, so to split even more time and attention on a new network was the last thing I wanted to do. Last thing I really desired to do. I am busy enough as it is. So, I initially rejected it, blasting Google for their last failure, Buzz. I’ll admit that was unfair to Google. Over time, my opinion began to change and I became really interested in G+ as a social network and my usage began spiking. So why did I suddenly become interested in G+? Well…
Facebook. FB is the main reason my interest started shifting my attention to G+. Remember what I said about social networking being fun right? Well, FB has been getting less enjoyable and more invasive. Most of the time, I wonder if my posts are actually viewed by my friends. The settings are opaque and many times set by FB by what they believe to be “optimal”. Funny enough, this means you can potentially miss posts made by friends because FB believes you don’t care about them or at least that seems to be what FB infers. The changes to the interface have gotten steadily worse as well and when they combined top feed with recent posts, it made it a mess and reading several posts multiple times is now common, including my own! I don’t need to read my post several times FB, I know I posted it…but its just not something I want when I read three social networks. The mobile apps themselves are a pain to use and constantly frustrate me. Overall, it just gets old.
Ok, true that FB isn’t unusable and gets some things right. Pages are a great resource for companies to be social on. (Considering G+ just launched Pages today). Groups are a good idea too as it allows people to socially talk about subjects like podcasts or events, to name a few that come to mind. FB games with friends work well too, when they aren’t spamming you to death, and the ability to easily connect with friends and game together is a great feature especially when Words with Friends came out on the FB website. Now I can hardly keep up on that game.
Facebook is not terribly terrible….its just no longer fun. The features that are coming up have not sparked my interest and I would rather see the service get easier to use, not harder. Instead, it seems hell bent on ruling your life and making your entire life as public as possible. Something that our society is simply not ready for yet. The fact that for every app we enable with Facebook that we have to check just what that app accesses is concerning. Granted, we bring that upon ourselves. Compared with Twitter which is a public area and whatever we put there is considered public, we treat FB like its our house or apartment. You can see the outside of it, but the innards remain a “secret”, just waiting to be exploited. Thinking about that now, its probably the worst way we could treat a social network, but we do. We have made ourselves believe that FB’s privacy is absolute. It isn’t. Actually, that’s probably a lot of the reason that I’ve started liking G+ more and Twitter still seems fun after years of usage. It is probably because I treated them as public venues and then we treated FB like a Castle to hide behind, feeling under constant siege by “invaders” trying to steal our secrets. A poor choice of using FB probably, but it happened.
So yeah, Google+ offers a great user experience right now and so far the new features they have introduced over the last couple of months have not bogged it down. There is a lot of potential in the service, but what I’m most curious about is whether they will allow auto-posting to the service or whether they want to encourage “social sharing”. I can’t say which way they will go, its too early.
Here is what I enjoy about G+
- Hangouts. Hangouts are up-to-9-person video calls that make Skype lose sleep at night no doubt. I have really enjoyed using Hangouts, and the ability to watch YouTube videos with friends has been great. I am interested in seeing this expand to GDocs and other G-centric products. Having it available on the mobile apps is a big + as well and I hope to encourage its usage more :).
- Sharing is easy, straightforward and works on the same page as the content that you are sharing and lets you set who it shares to. FB sometimes doesn’t let you set who you share this with unless your on Facebook.com.
- Interface is clean. Liking very much that Games are kept to a separate page entirely and that I don’t need to go in and block every spamming game either.
- Editing posts and being able to post some really long posts.
- Notification system that works.
- API isn’t available for app developers to use yet. Unless I’m wrong. So your restricted to official apps only.
- Lack of people on it, though with Pages just getting put out today I think my feed will be busier than ever. *Hint: Join already :P*
- No ability to filter a certain circle out of the main stream. I would really like to see this on G+, that way I could add certain pages to a circle that I don’t necessarily want filling up my main stream with posts.
All in all, I’m not going to do anything like demand a boycott of FB yet. Mostly because forcing people to move to one network over another is not something I do. I do want to highly encourage G+’s usage though 😉. Facebook looks like it will be around for a time unless they screw up so for now, sticking with the status quo. However, enough is enough. I have to restrict to three networks or I’ll go nuts and then it will feel like work.
Wrapping up, Google+ has a lot of potential and I’m enjoying it more and more. Whether this is just the fact that its a symptom of it being NEW is hard to say at this point, so I guess it will be a wait-and-see thing, but I’m convinced its not…so far. I suggest giving G+ a try and seeing if it works for you. If not, then it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you. So there you go, that’s my GIGANTIC amount of thoughts on G+. Partly to make up for the lack of posting here as of late (my fault) and mostly because I had so much to talk about so I hope you enjoyed it. Maybe in a few months I’ll be eating my words, (hope not…) but these are my thoughts on the service as of this point. Post a comment, share this and I hope you guys have an excellent day! Oh and of course, add me to your circle on G+, I’m a chatty person ;).
-King Isaac Linksr