Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google+ after the Initial Infatuation

So how many of you have already tried out Google+, the bold contender against the stealth monopoly of Facebook?
Not many, I suspect. After the not-so-secret launch this week, Google+ is now -supposedly-open for the great public to join. Although many became enamored with the sleek and clean design, the truth is that it is slightly... lonely. Yet. The new social network is, as I described earlier, a sandbox without active playmates. Or am I just the only one being left out of all the fun games on the yard? Can´t be.

Over time Facebook has managed to acquire not just headcount, but games, company pages and easy sharing options with Youtube-clips and print media articles. Is it even possible to do the latter with Google+ yet? As it is, besides posting the idiosyncratic egonews flashes on the like of "I am watching tv", people seem to like to share video clips and news articles over the social network. Pastime for the electronic masses.
And in many online publications, the button for Facebook is _there_, just a click away. Youtube is owned by Google. I tried adding a music video the normal way to my Google+-profile. It placed itself to the +1 recommended -area, where the actual video can be accessed and watched through redirection to Youtube. Why would anyone want to leave the social network to see my "recommendation"?

As Janne Ruohisto recently wrote, it is possible that Google+ will, over time, become more like a closed social network for purely professional circles, in the likes of Yammer and Socialcast. So far, they have a lot to catch up to. The interest is there, the desire to swift over from Facebook is growing. The once celebrated indie-spirited Facebook has grown into a megalith, which guards itself fiercely (try switching your friends over to Google+? We will bury your profile!!). Except when it comes to the question of privacy. The repeated accidental bugs opening up the private information are all too familiar for us.

The new announcement over the union between Skype and Facebook is great, and was magnificently timed. But the real question is, whether they will be able to answer to the much bigger questions out there: the division between growing amount of "friends" and the ownership of added personal information. Google+  has the idea of division beautifully embedded into its design with "circles". When will the same idea pop up in Facebook? Quite soon, I suspect. But also, the larger public has begun questioning Facebook´s policy of owning everything one adds into the system.Is it fair? Is it right? And more importantly, above else, should we tolerate it?

Google is bringing official  brand pages, or company page possibity, into the Google+ in two weesk. In other words, they are suspecting the critical mass to grow into such portions within this time period, that it becomes worthwhile. At the moment getting in, or "getting an invite into circles" is troublesome and takes patience and many, many tries. This illustration describes it perfectly. Still, will you be joining "The Plus" when you can? As a hint, it is good to start with old Zuckie in your circles. After all, he is the most circled person inside Google+ as I´m writing this.

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