Google+ … It’s life Jim, but kinda like lots of stuff we’ve seen before.

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So, yes I too am now on Google+, but it  kind of feels just like Wave and Buzz. We came, we saw, we f*cked off again. It’s populated largely by [awesome] friends in tech space and with that, mostly UK friends … for obvious reasons. Although… as I write this very post, I have now added two friends in Canada. It’s almost exciting.

Didn’t like adding people to “circles” and struggled particularly with people who I socialise(d) with in professional communities who were more than acquaintances, but not quite friends. And I’m not sure I want the hassle of creating a label for them. Do I update Google+ when relationships with acquaintances become friendships? Will Google be able to track this communication and recommend associations? For instance, I used to berate a certain pal for introducing me as her “work friend”.

That makes us both sound lame” I grumbled, “why can’t I just be a friend that you met through work? You don’t have to sum up our history in the introduction.

To try and group people who were/are more than acquaintances, just not quite friends…. and also actively participating in the community, I created the circle “game changers – smart people who do cool stuff”, since these are people who I think are changing the world around them. But then I worried that they could see that they were in this circle and cringe at the compliment or sigh at the expectation. As it happens, I don’t think this is the case (read this article), but I don’t think it’s that clear what I see and what everyone else sees. 

This brings me on to my next point, what’s with the copy? Let’s consider the “start a hangout” callout on Google+… Are we fourteen again? This sounds like something my parents would occasionally say when they’re trying to be cool [usually my dad]. For all its super-brainy technical genius, I’m not finding the language especially reassuring. Pernickety? A little…. but as one of the largest, most important and influential companies in the world AND its reputation for seeking out the smartest brains around – Google raised its own bar. It’s not our fault if it can’t reach it.

As far I understand it, I can only invite additional people through sharing additional media/articles/posts/comments etc? I can’t invite via email [yet]? I have to populate the network with content, in order to populate the network with people? True, it’s a clean design, but it’s like wandering into a living room with a sofa, but nothing else – a visit is fine, but you don’t want to spend time here. I probably ought to watch a video on how Google+ is supposed to work, but hate reading instruction manuals. My finest moments of technical enlightenment have been by accident or by [tech] friends [who do read instruction manuals] pointing out that there’s usually a faster way of doing something [usually Rich].

I tried creating a “spark” for wearable computing, but note that the results for “wearable computing” are obviously much stronger than the results for wearable computing (without “”). Were it not for the fact I used to work for an SEO agency several lives ago, I might not be aware of the importance of search operators  and characters, which makes me wonder if someone with less exposure would find this frustrating. I daresay the significance of such tools decreases as search algorithms become more sophisticated, but what I like about Facebook is the way I can identify what I’m looking for, who I want to follow (e.g. Economist, Inhabitat, Etsy, Mashable etc) and then share this so easily with all friends. I spend lots of time on Facebook because I’m consuming news there, not because I’m poking folk. In fact, the time I spend on Facebook consuming information, is time that has been taken from Google. Although I avoid multiple, consecutive updates on a particular topic, in general I think it’s a positive thing that I don’t compartmentalise my updates into circles and groups. I don’t understand every update I see from friends and they don’t necessarily get all of mine, but I want them to choose whether or not they receive my updates rather than me choosing which updates they should see. 

I’m not a Google expert, but sometimes wonder if its self-sufficient evolution is hindering it from play. It’s like having a friend that’s so super-smart that you don’t want to do stuff with them, because they’ve already worked out all the possible outcomes as a result of that activity. The fact we simultaneously long for escape and reassurance doesn’t compute.

In the midst of thinking about the title for this post, I remembered this song from school days…. switching my mood from somewhat ranty to more melllow at the recollection (even though it’s a little naff).

This is testimony to the fact that although Google+ is not competition for Facebook (yet), the digital documentation and facilitation of relationships is an exciting challenge still open to all players. 

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