Google+ has certainly been the talk of the Internet over the past couple of weeks. And its success so far is noteworthy, garnering 10 million users in the first couple of weeks. And with invites becoming more readily available, this number is just going to increase.
Of course, of those 10 million users right now, they are mostly men and nerds. But it’s gaining ground – I’ve had a lot of questions about Google+ from non-techie, non-nerdy friends and family. At the same time, Google+ is garnering a lot of interest from the academic community, who see it as a ground-breaking space for educators and journalists alike.
So what’s the point of Google+? With all these people asking questions, I’ve had to come up with answers. Here’s just a few of the pros and cons I’ve discovered so far:
+) Privacy. Google+ makes it really easy to decide what to share with whom. Yes, nay-sayers point out you can do this in Facebook, but it’s kludgey. I like that every post I make I can decide which circles to share with. For all Google’s advertising, that is more like real life. And I enjoy that I will get fewer updates about things I don’t care about. I have a “colleagues” circle with whom I can share academic stuff – stuff that probably bores my other friends and family, who lead normal lives, to tears. So the circles is the biggest plus.
-) Overlapping circles. A lot of people end up being in a lot of circles. How does one define who is a “friend” vs. “acquaintance”? Which of my “colleagues” are also “friends” – people who care about the minutiae of daily life that so often gets posted to Facebook? In this sense, decision-making becomes more difficult for each and every post. I think the benefit outweighs the cost, but the cost is there and I acknowledge it.
+) Data liberation. I haven’t used it yet, but I love that there is a “data liberation” tab in your personal account that lets you download almost anything you want – your pictures, your posts, your circles, etc. It’s my data, it should be easy to get.
+) No games. I like the fact my news feed isn’t swamped by other people’s social media use, rather than their posts or their stories. I couldn’t care less who is playing FarmVille, nor am I keen to let people know how much time I waste on Facebook games. But I recognize that this is a minus for many.
+) Google integration. Maybe this is a downside for some, but I use Google for almost everything. And I “trust” Google – at least more than some of the other big companies right now – and others agree, saying it is the most reputable company in the U.S.
+) Hangouts. These definitely have potential to be cool, although the video is a little klunky right now. But the idea is great and the tools are there.
-) Redoing everything. One of my first thoughts when I got an invite was “Really? I have input all this information again?!” It’s a pain in the butt, especially with no easy integration process. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this hurdle and I agree 100%.
-) Maintaining 2 social profiles. Closely related to the above, at least while both are viable options, who wants to share the same thing in 2 different places? Creating, maintaining, and curating 2 profiles is time-consuming and further – it seems pointless. The Internet offers plenty to do (plenty!), so replicating your effort in two virtually-similar spaces isn’t going to cut it.
This last point, further, signals what the future holds. But as this post is pretty long already, stay tuned for my next post for my thoughts on what’s coming…