Is Google+ worth your time? A layman’s look at the newest social network
I regard social networks much like I do my car: I get a lot of mileage out of them but don’t ask me what’s under the hood.
HTML? Might as well ask me to rebuild a carburetor.
I can, however, tell you how my car handles and what makes it better or worse than other cars from a user standpoint.
This brings me to my layman’s review of Google+, which you may know by now is Google’s answer to the social network. As of this moment, the network is still invite-only but there are plenty of invites to be had. I, for one, have been handing them out like candy.
The question I keep getting is, “Is it worth my time?”
My answer: Depends.
Are you in the market for a sleeker, newer model with improved, albeit subtle, features? Or are you comfortable with your current vehicle that takes you back and forth to the grocery store and already has your favorite radio presets? (Yes, I’m continuing with the car analogy.)
A lot of the people snatching up the early invitations to Google+ are either searching for the next big thing or champing at the bit to get away from Facebook and it’s sketchy privacy settings, relentless Farmville invitations and its relative inability to let you talk to your friends about last night’s exploits without exposing your church group to all the gritty details.
Google+ addresses all of these issues: The photos are brighter and fun to edit; the video chat, “Hangout,” is already more expansive than the chat Facebook unveiled just last week; and there isn’t a Mafia war in sight (but who knows how long that will last.)
Running in circles
Google+ shares a lot of similarities with Facebook in terms of look and style but it separates itself with the advent of Circles. As soon as you connect with someone you know, Google+ asks you to put them in a circle: friend, acquaintance, etc.; lets you create your own; or allows you to leave them out in the cold altogether.
This will sound familiar to you if you maintained lists in Facebook, but the main purpose of lists, at least for me, is to organize whose updates I want to read and to keep certain groups from viewing certain parts of my wall, such as photos, videos or my entire wall.
But it’s cumbersome and time-consuming if you want to send updates only select people can see.
Before you send an update, photo, link, etc. in Google+, you choose which circles you want to share or not share with.
Some of the privacy ramifications are still up in the air, at least they are to me. You can set your post so no one else can re-share it, but I find it hard to believe that someone couldn’t find a way to share your post (copy and paste?) if they really wanted to.
I also happened to share a blog post today in which the original user had set limitations on who he wanted to share it with. I saw the same blog post on a friend’s Facebook page within the hour.
No business being on Google+
Another notable omission from Google+ are businesses. Google has asked businesses to stay away for the time being while they work on pages that should share at least some similarities with those on Facebook, but will hopefully be better. I’ve already shared my thoughts on the journalist pages. With the circles, I don’t think Google+ will even need special rules for journalists.
So what do you all talk about on Google+?
Because Google+ allows you to leave your inner circle without having to share all of your intimate details and photographs, there is much more discussion there than on Facebook among people who might not know each other very well, if at all.
This gives Google+ a little Twitter flavor, which I like. I’ve already met people who aren’t on twitter that I would have probably never met on Facebook.
So no games and no businesses? What the heck do you talk about on Google+?
To be honest, most of the people on Google+ are talking about Google+, kicking the tires, taking in the new car smell. I’d say about 65 to 70 percent of the updates are about the social network itself. That raises the question, at least it does to me, what will people be talking about when the novelty runs out?
Does it just become a newer, sleeker model of Facebook? If so, is that worth trading in old reliable – and the seemingly arduous task of moving reams of photos from one to the other? Is it worth your time to have both? And yes, they both have the capability to occupy a lot of time.
So is it worth it to you? You tell me.
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Tags: Facebook, Google+