I recently had the pleasure of being invited by my blog buddy Kate, to trial the new social networking site Google+.
I have to say, when I got the invite I was fairly excited. I don’t like to be behind with new technology and for a number of weeks previous to my royal invitation, it seemed that everyone was talking about their exclusive participation on Google+, with me behind the red carpet ropes, jumping up and down screaming “pick me! pick me!”
It wasn’t that I had heard anything particularly special about Google+, with some people happy, others not and a decent amount of expected new technology confusion. It was more the exclusivity of the whole thing. By not offering it to everyone but leaking out enough information to set chins wagging, people (myself included) got curious.
Well played Google. Well played.
So, now that I’m a member of this cool new club, what do I think?
Well, at first I was confused. It sort of looked like Facebook, but with more colours true to the Google logo style, so I felt slightly deceived when I tried desperately to communicate on someone’s wall, only to discover that walls don’t exist in Google+ land.
After much exploring, tinkering and many scratches of my head, I finally figured it out.
Facebook and Twitter defied the odds, fooled everyone into thinking they were arch enemies, grand rivals, wild adversaries! When in fact, they were snogging in the back seat of the car, concealing their unrequited love, and stealing passionate embraces in the deep of the night. One thing led to another and then it happened.
Facebook and Twitter had a baby, and they called it Google+.
As is customary with brand new celebrity babies, it was bestowed with a ‘unique’ name, following the likes of Sunday Rose and Suri, and hidden from the media spotlight until it could be all but guaranteed that its first public appearance would bring great profit, stardom and popularity to said VIPs. I know you’re wondering how this is different to any other superstar couple popping out an overindulged lovechild, and I’m not sure that it is. I can say with confidence only that I’m neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed by this new celebrity rug rat. I’m just, whelmed?
From the onset you can see that it’s all very sleek and pretty. Like Facebook, you can update your profile information and provide more about yourself than twitter has ever consented to. The design closely resembles Facebook, with a few tweaks and changes, such as the +1 button where Facebook instead has the like button. But for the most part, it acts like Twitter. You can post on your own ‘wall’ but not on others. You can add friends to circles (the Google+ equivalent of ‘following’ people on Twitter), meaning you will follow their posts (the ones they make public or available to your circle, anyway), without their having to reciprocate the friendship.
There is a new feature called Circles, which essentially requires you to compartmentalise your friends into categories, which I’m still a little shady about. I haven’t yet figured out if those people can see the name of the ‘Circle’ you place them in, so be wary about your labels (I’m thinking ‘enemies’, ‘boring’ or ‘losers’ are probably not appropriate). Truth be told, I still don’t know much at all about the ins and outs of the Circles yet, unsure what happens when you have friends in more than one category and what exactly their purpose is, but I think it comes down to your posts and being able to easily manage what groups, or Circles, can see each of them.
As with any newborn, Google+ is experiencing the usual teething problems as he tries to make his mark on the world, but I haven’t found it too painful to deal with yet.
To be honest, I’m not sure whether Google+ is heading for the bright lights of fame and fortune that it’s famous parents have been blessed with. I love how clean it is, the simplicity, but as with anything, without the people there really isn’t much to look at. Currently, I have five lonely Google+ buds, which makes for a pretty slow and dreary post feed as we all walk around aimlessly in circles, bumping into walls and occasionally each other, trying to figure it all out. There is a distinct echo in the room.
There are a few other features, including the new group video chat ‘hangouts’, which I haven’t yet had the chance to experience, probably due to the aforementioned unremarkable number of Google+ buddies, but if you would like to know more about it, and other various features of Google+, you should definitely check out this very entertaining post at terribleminds. Here is an excerpt:
I’m also afraid that if I somehow turn on my webcam, the first thing I’m going to see is someone masturbating at me. Which is why I am prepared instead to masturbate at somebody. Fight fire with fire. Fight Onanism with Onanism. I have a very clear “first strike” policy on webcam jerkoffery. Once again, the need for “Circle Jerk” to enter the Goo-Plus parlance is dire. Dire.
Meanwhile, I’m feeling optimistic enough to stick it out for the time being, although I’m mildly aware that having three platforms to post on is somewhat absurd, and that somewhere along the line, something will have to give.
N.B. I think it should be noted that I’m resolved on one thing further; at the slightest whiff of a Farmville, Zombieland, Vampire eating, sheep throwing, masterchef making, pirate ninja war battling piece of spam making game, I can safely say that I will lose all respect for this royal lovechild. I’m hoping his parents will have the decency to teach him the error of their ways and save us all the spammy theatrics.