I’m a writer.
I like an audience.
I also tend to use more than 20 words at a time, like on Twitter, or 75 words on Facebook. While I’ll always love the challenge of having a brilliant and funny 140-character-or-less tweet, the unfiltered-length possibilities on Google+ make it possible for me to write my Unabomber manifesto for the world at the large without burying it on some obscure “notes” page on my Facebook account, while giving me a larger audience than I enjoy on this lowly blog.
So, there’s that.
And I can edit after the fact, which is fantastic for a neurotic type-A personality like me who wants to cry at support groups every time my iPhone leads me to fuck up and upload a typo. And there’s bold AND italics? Oh, editor porn! Editor porn!
It’s a slippery-slope thing, the after-the-fact post-editing, but it’s LONG overdue in social media, where every word we say can cripple us professionally or personally.
If Google’s smart, they’ll have a built-in system that allows for proper tracking of edits once comments have appeared on a posting. I think, in the interest of truth and transparency, a “track-changes” feature might keep people on the ethical straight and narrow with edits. As it stands, it DOES say the post was edited and at what time, but not the extent to which edits have been done.
Google+ Has Borrowed From Those Before Them
Now, this is early in the game. Yet people are commenting, “Oh, I would’ve expected Google to roll out something much more dynamic, given their global reach,” etc, but I question if these folks really realize the scope of what Google has unleashed.
If you think of Google+ as being the framework upon which The Goog is developing a social structure that spreads throughout the whole web, they’ve created a fabulous start. No one has the ability to catch up with Facebook’s infrastructure — but Google can.
Right now, Google+ offers you “hangouts,” which takes the Chatroulette web-cam socializing idea and runs with it. They have “sharing,” and privacy controls that are far simpler to adjust than Facebook (and more transparency about the lack of existing privacy).
The continuous refreshing feed and ease of sharing replicates the Tumblr-reader/blogger experience.
The +1 bookmarking makes for a DIGG or StumbleUpon replacement and there’s a page on your profile where it saves them. It’s called the +1 Page, but it doesn’t save all the things you’ve “liked” in your main in-Google+ feed (where you +1 instead of “liking” as you would on Facebook), it only tracks external webpages that have a +1 button. (You can change a setting in G+ settings so that Google assigns a +1 button on ALL non-Google pages, and that way it can truly be your new bookmarking service. I’ve been hesitant to go there, but I use Google for all my searches anyhow, and resistance seems futile.)
That Google owns Youtube, which is rolling out the COSMIC PANDA experiment as I type (for which you need to use the Google Chrome browser, I understand), makes for better video interfacing in-feed than Facebook offers, plus excessively-fun and easy animated-GIF posting.
The following options on Google+ are like on Twitter — it’s public and anyone’s game for you to follow without approval, unless they block you, but it’s easier to find people, and there’s a built-in, far more interesting and informative profile that makes the follow/unfollow option much more simpler.
They have ingenius “social circles,” and a smart user will create additional streams beyond the few basic ones that come pre-set by G+ — like I’ve added “local connections” who are people I don’t consider acquaintances but know through the local scene, “extended family” is obvious, “soc med influencers” keeps the Chris Brogans at bay, “news and info” will be news organizations or persons affiliated with them, which I hope are allowed onto Google+ sooner than later, because I think it’d be fantastic for that sort of content. I have “people I like” and “Journalists & Writers” and other stuff relevant to my life. People are grouped in multiple circles if they’re more relevant to me.
I foresee Google allowing a more toggle-able feed, where I don’t have to have all or just one, but can default to 2-3-4 preferred feeds that most affect my content-consuming time.
Built for Engaging
G+ will be, for me, a more powerful way of getting my writing out in the world, and a way to have a much better engaging with my audience, because I never really log in here and write comments, but I do love engaging on topics, and I’m more likely to do so on G+, since I’ve found myself having more ideological discussions there in a week than I have on Facebook or Twitter in a month, and at a far greater length and focus.
For now, Google+ is telling marketers to stay away until the end of the year. I think business won’t really get how to use it, and many will be awkward and shitty at content-generation like they are on Twitter, but one can get away with sucking more at Twitter than you could on G+. With more rope to hang themselves, I’m nearly confident most marketers will succeed handily at self-asphyxiation on Google-plus.
So, It’s More Private Than Facebook?
[insert laughter here] Urm, definitely not.
Privacy? Are there better privacy protections? Arguably, no. This, however, is more transparent, and I think we’re all used to Google knowing everything about us anyhow.
If you want privacy, get off the internet. Really. The two do not compute. It’s like putting alfalfa in cheesecake. What the fuck are you thinking?
Are there issues? Yeah. If you don’t want something private inadvertently shared, you can’t just not include X circles of people, you also have to disable sharing on it. But, wait! You can disable sharing! And disable comments! Yay.
The reality is, Google+ just ensures you’ll be a thoroughly data-mined person in the Google universe, but who’s kidding who? You already are. Facebook has ya, your credit card company’s got a real sweet dossier on you. Fuck, every charity in the country knows when you’re a giver. Worrying about your information being out there, that’s just silly. It already IS.
The only privacy you’ve got is to not say anything you don’t want repeated. Shut up or suck it up, basically.
Google Takes Over The World, Story At 11
This feels very much like a social tool that’s truly social. If Google starts expanding it — and, remember, this company owns Blogger and has stopped developing it — the dynamic nature of their “socialness” will be nearly infinite. Google is among the only companies in the world with the wherewithal to beat Facebook, and mark my words — and many others — this might just be the tool that does it.
Yeah, I’m sticking around. Wanna follow me on Google+? Go for it.
In the meantime, it’s not all sunshine and roses. This damning article says the privacy concerns could blow up big. Other sticking points I’ve found are below.
But, hey, I’ve been on the web for years. My privacy got screwed years ago. Welcome to my party, people.
Shit They Gotta Fix
Comments are bothersome: You can’t collapse comments. I’m liable to unfollow all the “popular” people until this is fixed. For the moment, you can read the post and the comments, then click the greyscale “+” top right of any post and “mute” the post. This will not only hide it in your feed, but it’ll end any notifications associated with the post.
Invasive feed-refreshing rate: The continuously auto-refreshing feed does so while one is writing a post or comment, which doesn’t hurt anything, but can be jarring to the thinking process, and it’s clumsy. I’d like it to be possible to pause the feed.
Indiscriminate re-sharing: When one has shared things with a limited audience, it’s possible for their limited audience to then re-share to the general public, and, if so, the original poster’s name is on it. Great to have attribution, but it’s an invasion of privacy. Instead, G+ should build in a restrictor of some kind. In the mean time, you can disable sharing on each post.
Photo-sharing: When uploading photos, it creates a whole album, and one can share someone else’s complete album. If you ever geotag your stuff, whether it’s shot at home or you have kids, it’s unwise to allow these geotagged photos to be reshared, so, I would advise remembering to disable sharing on every posted photo album. UNFORTUNATELY, this cannot yet be done with the mobile app.
Circle-editing: You can’t edit a circle of friends and just move someone to a new circle, so you really have to be on the ball about it. Instead, you have to add them to a new circle before deleting them from the one you’ve decided they don’t fix, otherwise you have to re-ad them to circles in entirety, which is just irritating.
Ego-boosting fail: When I see great content and re-share it, I now get nothing out of the re-share when someone re-shares it off me. Instead, the person who originally posted it gets all the credit. I’d like to see “By way of Steffani Cameron, and Originally Posted by This Genius Guy” or something. Otherwise, you’re encouraging people to find the original source, upload it, and try to steal credit. Everyone wants their name in the game, Google. Savvy up there.
Buggy, bitches: The notifications, adding people, the numbers in circles, none of it is working completely right yet, but that’s to be expected with a new product that is achieving unprecedented influx of new power users in less than a week. This will smooth out, I’m sure.
Plain Stupid Things: That they request you to list “other names” like “maiden names” and stuff is absolutely moronic. Sure, it’s nice as a be-found-by-old-friends feature, but it’s also an identity-thief’s wet dream. Think twice before you’re so needy for antiquated social connections that you give scam-artists an open door to your identity, people.