You have to wonder how many of the Google Plus reviews are being inspired by the press releases. Here’s a typical one today, which I picked at random.
Rob Pegoraro writes: ‘You don’t add friends to an all-encompassing list and then, maybe, slice it into subsets; instead, you group them in “Circles” and then pick which circles (for example, “family,” “alumni,” “editors”) see each update.’ This appears to be the one area of differentiation, and I concede it has some merit. It’s no surprise every journalist has seized on this one. The argument here: if this social networking fad is declining, will I want to invest more brain power into grouping friends? I have them arranged in different places already with Facebook, LinkedIn and A Small World. And that’s good for me right now.
‘Unlike Facebook and Twitter, but like Buzz, Google Plus lets you edit a posted update—no more being stuck with a late-night typo—and add basic formatting like bold and italic text.’ Here’s the one that inspired me to write as I keep reading about it on reviews. Am I the only one who realizes that Facebook allows edits to an update, even a comment? Admittedly, you have to do it quickly after posting. Anything too old with a typo, I don’t care about: I let it go. But I have to say that being able to add bold and italic text is a biggie, since a lot of people have demanded that that be possible in Facebook. (It used to be possible, incidentally, before it was dropped again.)
Bringing in Hangout is a good idea, and admittedly, some people will prefer to do that rather than go on Skype, which, for me, has been incredibly buggy (e.g. 35 minutes to sign in).
It looks like Google has come in when Facebook is losing users and Skype is at its buggiest, which is not a bad time. But I doubt either competitor will sit still—Facebook is launching some offensive on Wednesday US time and there’s speculation that it might involve Skype.
CNN’s Amy Gahran notes, ‘Plus, it offers huge potential to connect with all the other Google services I’m already using: Google calendar, Gmail, Google docs, and more.’ I use none of them, so the carrot’s not there, and I don’t know anyone who has drunk that much Google Kool-Aid to go for such a wide spread of the company’s offerings.
Mr Pegoraro concludes:
Google Plus looks most promising as an experts-only social network—say, for people who now ﬁnd Facebook overgrown and yearn for a more private channel; for closer friends. But before you sign on, consider one other thing: If Google already knows your searches, your calendar, your contacts and even the content of your e-mail, do you want to hand over this much more of your life to it?
For me, that’s a big no, and I don’t even let them know my searches, calendar, contacts and email. I’m already concerned with the ineptitude with which they currently deal with the little data they have on me.
Of the reviews I have read so far, the Cnet one is the best for me. It’s a real-life glimpse at how its staff found Google Plus on day one.
This status update, from Jay Greene, was interesting:
Google+ suggestions is odd to me. It’s Buzz-like in that it pulls folks from my Gmail account. But that account, which I set up for reporting on my book but barely use anymore, offers suggestions of sources I haven’t talked with in more than a year. And, of course, none of them are on Google+. Just odd.
Google has, therefore, learned from the Buzz débâcle in pulling Gmail contacts (which is how I wound up with a Plus invitation), but this time they are suggestions and not automatically added into one’s network.
At this point, Plus interests me as a computer user (aren’t we all, in these luckier countries?), but I still see no compelling reason to join. Robert Scoble may be right: like Quora, it’s a tech-geek hangout.