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Friday, July 1, 2011

Initial thoughts on Google+, other SNS


The New York Times covered Google+ recently, as did Reuters: their walk-through is worth a look, and has its funny moments too. Thanks to my MIT affiliation, I was one of the early adopter/invitees for this service, so I've had a day now to peruse its UI (by the time this post is published).

Due to the aforementioned privilege, I was an early user of other Google services. For instance, I've had a Gmail account since summer of 2004, and it wasn't generally available until early 2007. Which is why I can vividly recall how Buzz and Wave flopped (although NYT lists Orkut as another instance of defeat, I understand it's still quite a popular SNS in Brazil). The Buzz functionality is still extant despite what some of my colleagues seemed to think: my tweets are forwarded to it along with my networkedblogs-driven automated blog post summaries. However, my audience on Buzz is 6, despite my Gmail contact list which exceeds 250.

Speaking of SNS, Orkut, Friendster and MySpace were on my radar years before I ended up in my current role. I'd had - and cancelled accounts on all of these. I never bothered to join Bebo despite its popularity in Ireland. Partly due to my North American roots, Facebook is where the majority of my colleagues, former classmates and erstwhile friends have ended up, so I've been keeping abreast of the myriad of UI changes without too much complaint. In Facebook's case, I signed up fairly late in the game, in February of 2007. I'm (still) unable to join the premier Japanese social networking site, Mixi, as I have no cell phone number from Japan.

So, it seems that the niche that Google+ is trying to fill is to focus on subsets of contacts. The interface certainly does facilitate this compartmentalization of one's contact list. I'm hoping that it'll introduce a suggested circles list for those with Gmail contact lists, as in the best case scenario, I would be theoretically deciding where hundreds of people should be added (and they do allow a many to many mapping of contacts to circles).

However, Facebook allows for the sorting of friends into lists, which I've found extremely useful, and thus take advantage of to its fullest extent.  Personally I find Facebook to be no less trustworthy than Google when it comes to handling my personal data, so my implicit (and self-imposed) rule on both sites is to never share anything that could compromise my safety, be it online or otherwise. That covers anything from facts I need for security verification in password retrievals to where I plan to be physically (until post event/vacation.)

The first question I had regarding Plus was "is Google really trying to capitalize on users unwilling to compartmentalize their Facebook presence?" So far, I think their efforts are certainly promising; its ease of use and clean design are enticing.

The next question was: would there be an easy way to transfer photos and videos from a Facebook account into Picasaweb? And even if there were, would I want to? Mobile device uploads are extremely facilitated already via Google+ (particularly via Android app, which is unsurprising given its incestuously close relationship with Google). But as I haven't yet mastered the ability to focus well with my Galaxy S smartphone, the photos and video files that I'd wish to share all reside on Facebook, having accumulated over my years there.

More thoughts and wish lists to follow...

p.s. Happy Canada Day!

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.