The first wave of Google + (www.plus.google.com) invites will be going out soon and in the next few hours, we’ll probably see more posts with loaded with praises or criticisms. The first few weeks of reviews won’t probably do much to prove or disprove the idea that the search giant’s social initiative will actually eat up Facebook as it inches towards its rumored 2012 IPO.
In the meantime, the Google+ Interactive tour gives you a glimpse of what could be in store and I am wondering if Google’s rendition of social media will be anything like its interactive tour. Meaning, will it be visually organized like a mind map instead of a grid?
One thing that has always bothered me with Facebook is the visual clutter that’s organized in a linear timeline or stream. It would actually be cool if it’s organized like a sphere in 3D space and if the graphic interface would show threads in discussions according to certain keywords or patterns in sharing. That would actually make it easier to track what the heck everyone is talking about.
Google+, so far, has a much more streamlined places for interactivity. It actually just has 5 points of interactivity versus the gazillions on Facebook and they are mainly:
Circles – The feature basically allows you to group friends, family, and various associates into groups. So, perhaps, this means that you can organize your social life by interest or type of association — instead of having their updates stream together in just one timeline. So, maybe, just maybe, you can have separate walls for movie friends, book club friends, work friends you like, work friends you don’t like but would like to keep an eye on, absolute strangers whom you find interesting, and of course, family members who remain invisible for most of the year just like in real life. Then again, isn’t this already a feature on Facebook?
Hangouts — Looks pretty much like private messages on Facebook where you’ve got several people on the same thread. I
Instant Upload — Promises to make uploading photos more fun because with “Instant upload, your photos and videos upload themselves automatically in a private album on Google+”. Which probably isn’t a good idea if you have a habit of telling co-workers to just open your e-mail account because you uploaded a file but forgot to send it out to people. Or if you share an e-mail account with your girlfriend and believe “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
Sparks — Okay, here’s how Google describes it: “Tell Sparks what you’re into and it will send you stuff it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.” Now, why the heck would I do that when people on Facebook and Twitter actually take the time to read my timeline so that they can spam me? The economy is shrinking and people need jobs Google! Why deprive them of all the hours of useless drudgery… Oh wait! I forget, they’re outsourcing spam to China and pretty soon the world will know what “Ma Ling” is. (Sorry, that’s a Filipino joke.)
Huddle — It’s a group chat. Plain and simple. If you hate people who chat you up on Facebook, I wonder if you’ll love a group chat on Google +.
Anyway, as far as I am concerned, I just hope Google+ doesn’t tank like Google Buzz. To this very day, I haven’t gotten around to figuring out what to do with Google Buzz. My friends tell me not to worry though because they were never on it and so couldn’t tell me what I was missing.
Will Google+ be THE Facebook Killer? Will people say, “Google plus me”? Will it actually help me get more things done or get more traffic for my blogs? Will it actually help me improve the social skills I imagine having?
Anyway, right now, I’m monitoring a stream on Twitter and it seems some pretty nice people are offering invites to people who will DM them their e-mail addresses. And if you are actually gullible enough to believe that absolute strangers will give you something that almost everyone seems to want at the moment… Well, you might as well start answering that e-mail from some African bank where someone who has your name left millions of Euros.
Looking at Google+ from outside the shop window, my initial reaction is that it may just be a paired down version of Facebook with none of your friends on it. People are going to sign up and the numbers are going to be pretty for a while, but the real verdict will be a couple months down the road. If at all, Google+ ought to think of how it can actually help people see their relations in real life as more preferable to their relations online.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.