By now most of you have at least heard of Google+ and its promise to be a “Facebook killer”. I’ve been using Google+ since the first invites started going out and just like FriendFeed, google buzz, and goggle wave before it, all the geekorati are there hanging out (literally with the Hangout video chat feature) and kicking the tires of this new shiny thing. I’m not here to throw cold water on the party, no I rather like Google+, what I’m really wondering is will this affection last or will the technologies just be wrapped into other Google products.
There is no doubt that Google has played its cards damn well on this one. Nice early buzz in the press, opening invites to everyone (talk about a tech gold rush) for several hours, and cleverly tying all the google products in together, but for the first time ever I’m seriously looking at Picasa. Yeah, really.
No the Mac app isn’t as polished as iPhoto (although Picasa’s face recognition seems to work better and faster), but Google designed Picasa to play nice with iPhoto so it’s not really a one or the other kind of thing. Not only that, when you upload photos through Google+ they go into your Picasa account, but don’t count against your 2 GB upload limit. Clever huh?
Regardless, this post is about Google+ and not Picasa.
I think Google+ is one of those breakthrough products that will influence how we interact online.
Note that I’m not saying that Google+ is going to be a smashing success or kill Facebook or render Twitter pointless, because I don’t think any of those things are true. Google clearly saw some of the issues that people have to finding, sharing, and discussing information. Facebook is great, but it’s hard to segment with whom you broadcast too or read. Twitter using lists you can focus your attention on who you want to get information from, but sharing, it’s all or nothing. Google knew, as do the rest of us really, that the world isn’t that simple.
Circles in Google+ allow focused reading/discussing and focused sharing. I have some circles with only a few people. Close friends who I want to share things with, but don’t need or want to sharing with the world (this is not to say that I trust deep, dark secrets on Google+, there are some things that are just private). I also have large circles with colleagues.
And I’m also not feeling compelled to add everyone to my circles.
Focus. Attention. Privacy.
While Circles might be the most far-reaching feature of Google+ (the one that both Twitter and Facebook will have to think about adopting in the future), things like drag and drop photo sharing, easy embedding, and even rich text through a MarkDown-esque syntax make posting and conversing a great experience.
It’s the conversing part that might start winning the day. In something I Plused (?) earlier today:
Just thinking about the limited sharing model of circles and how sharing and follow will grow more slowly here (almost by design) that Google+ is for the conversation and dialog and Twitter (might become) the broadcast tool. From Google+
And while FriendFeed—I think—should be given a lot of the credit for starting us down the path, Google has paved the road and started to make a potentially really, really useful place to read, find new things, and discuss them.
Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog