Google+, Google’s newest stab at the social networking world, launched a few weeks ago as an invite-only beta on June 28, 2011. I was invited in on June 29th, which marks a milestone for me in that I don’t think I’ve been in a network so early in its infancy. With so few people with whom I could interact in the space, I wasn’t sure at first what to do with this Google+ thing. Fast-forward to a few weeks later and I’ve watched the network grow in leaps and bounds as Google eases up on allowing people into Google+.
My first post on Google+? “I am not sure what I am doing. Per usual.” Just in case you’ve been invited in and are feeling the same way, or even if you are just curious what the hoopla is about, I thought I’d write a little post here to offer my initial reactions, insights, and hacks for Google’s newest, hottest service.
First of all, being one of the lucky early invites had a lot to do with my previously created, publicly viewable Google profile. [Full disclosure: I am a Google Certified Teacher and my university is a Google Apps for Education school. So I do a lot with Google.] This has to do with the main way Google+ operationalizes one’s networks: through circles. While Twitter has followers and folks you follow, and you may have various “lists” on Facebook, Google+ allows for different people to be added to different circles to make it simpler to differentiate content that you share to the various circles. Google+ suggests a “Friends” circle, a “Family” circle, an “Acquaintances” circle, and a “Following” circle. You may also create and label circles yourself (I added a “Professional Contacts” circle, for example.) As an encircler you get to choose who among your contacts go where. As a person being encircled, I am not told which circle you’ve added me to, only that you’ve added me to one of your circles (this CAN be checked in your profile, however: I’ve listed a site that walks you through making this feature hidden). Now, when you add a status update or a link, you choose who among your circles (from “fully public” to “just family”) gets to see what you’ve posted.
The rest of Google+ beyond the circles will seem familiar. There’s Google chat contacts. There’s a stream with commenting. Instead of the Facebook “like,” Google+ has a “+1.”
My favorite feature so far? The Google+ Hangout. I am no stranger to a video chat room, and I normally hate them. BUT I LOVE THE GOOGLE+ HANGOUT. The interface is dead easy to use, it’s really fast, and the quality is great. It also allows for text chat and sharing of YouTube videos, which you can watch and talk over (this allows for, you guessed it, KARAOKE!) I am already planning to use it to facilitate writing groups at a distance. With rumors that Google+ will integrate with all of Google’s services, I am drooling over the possibility of using a Google+ Google Docs combination for writing conferencing.
How are you using Google+? Let us know in the comments!
For more information:
- For comprehensive, easy-to-read, and step-by-step guidance to Google+, you can not beat this crowd-sourced, collaboratively written Google Doc. Complete with how-tos to get you set up to the best Google+ hacks. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cUjZ_7rlAmKRDVB6GXId73h_eUdXGKdjtSff0svbaz0/mobilebasic?pli=1&hl=en_US#h.7ssfy42v5qvp
- IMPORTANT information about hiding your circle information: “What do Google execs know about Google+ privacy that you don’t?” by Ed Bott over at ZDNet.
- Check out Mashable’s coverage of Google+, including “What’s in a Name? Google+ is Your Plus One.“
- I also love this post by @ryanbretag, who invites us to get excited and play with new things. It’s really okay to not be critical for a minute and enjoy whatever the new thing is. Critically evaluate tomorrow, right? “Go Ahead and Get Excited” by Ryan Bretag.
- From the Chronicle: “Professors Consider Classroom Uses for Google Plus”
- POST-EDIT: Brian Croxall over at Professor Hacker also posted today on Google+. Definitely check it out: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/introducing-google/34643
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