The Google + Project is the new social network from Google, and thanks to a friendly invite today I am now cruising around on the network. I have a limited number of invites left, and if you would like me to send you one, skip down to the comment section on this post, leave me a quick comment, then click the thumbs up like and share on facebook. I’ll respond to your email with a Google + invite. I’m not entirely sure how many invites I have left, but in an effort to share the love, I’ll give them out as long as I can.
There aren’t a ton of people on the network yet, at least not in my network, but that’s kind of the way Facebook started too, if anyone was around when it started in colleges. I remember trying to logon to Facebook after hearing about it from a few friends, but it hadn’t hit Lehigh yet, so there was no way to get in. And look at it now.
At first glance Google + seems to be setup alot like Facebook, with a wall, which google calls your “stream.” This is where you post your status updates and send out links and information to the world – or at least your immediate network. You can customize the streams you care to view, which is a great feature. Facebook has groups, but Google + Stream feature is great because I can set certain contacts in particular streams and view each stream with the click of a button. I can also filter out other streams which I don’t care to view on a regular basis. Right now, I have a stream for mommy and daddy bloggers, a stream for family members, friends, business associates, and one for people who put me in their circles – but who I don’t really know who they are.
Speaking of circles, that’s another interesting feature. It’s kind of like connections in LinkedIn, where you connect with people to which you have association, only Google + allows you categorize how you are connected with them. I have connection circles for business and personal uses, and post different types of items, and different levels of content to different circles. In general, you can post links, articles, pictures, movies, and other items to your stream and people who are in your circle will see the posts.
Some experts are saying that Google + will be the best social network, even better than Facebook by leveraging all the current features of the Google system and by connecting people with gmail addresses across the world. I’m not sure about all that. I do use many of the Google products, but one area where I see the network falling short on mass appeal is in applications. Facebook offers so many linked applications and games, and millions of people log onto facebook just for that feature alone. I don’t see how google is going to wrap that component into the project yet, or if they ever will. I also don’t see people using the chrome apps like they do with facebook apps. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see it yet. Google has had open source code projects for years, but few developers have chosen to make applications that integrates with Google. My guess would be because Google has already thought of it, tried it, or doesn’t want it. I’m not on the inside at google, so i can’t really comment further on that.
I did have the ability to do a quick webchat with several family members, through the Hangouts area, which is a really cool feature. Hangouts is exactly like it sounds. You create a room and hang out. Your circle mates can see when you are hanging and drop in to view your video, chat, or exchange web browsing links. In my opinion, it’s probably the best feature of the Google + project. This alone makes it worth using, and it is infinitely better than Skype. You can have an unlimited number of people in video chat, and it is all free to use. I think Skype’s premium plans start at $8. It was a handy feature, but you were limited to 6 or 8 videos at once, and even then the video processing was slowed dramatically.
Another cool feature of Google + is the Sparks feature, which categorizes posts across the entire Google + platform, not just your network, and then makes them available to you. You can choose from categories like movies, fashion, recipes, etc. You can also tap into google’s almost unreal search engine and be connected with just about any topic under the sun. I searched on the term “dad blogger” and got hundreds of results, and the ability to “pin” the project to my stream, which gives me the ability to access the search in the future.
Others are saying Google + will be used by some as a blogging platform allowing content publishers to post short articles, and then link to longer posts on other blogs. Some are even saying the site will eclipse Twitter in usefulness. Again, I’m not sure about either of those statements. Google certainly has not been immune to the failed launch, and while the launch of Google + has been supported more than its launch of Google Wave and a few other google products, only time will tell how the community at large will interact with this medium.
I’m really enjoying the Google + project and am looking forward to integrating it with my businesses and blogging platforms. If you’re a blogger using WordPress and want to get a widget to let people add you to Google + circles, you can download a cool widget called Google + Cards. You can see an example in my sidebar.
Again, if you want an invite to Google +, skip to the comments section below and send me a note. Don’t forget to hit the like thumby button thing and share to facebook. I’ll send as many invites as I can.