Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Getting social

Two good things happened yesterday; the problem with the house alarm was sorted, and courtesy of Mickey I received a Google+ invite. I should probably take a thorough look first, but whilst I’ve got the urge I may as well post now, haphazard though the result may be. At first sight it looks cleaner, though this is in part the ‘lick of paint’ affect, more space and less clutter; placed on another tab I flicked between Google+ and Facebook and not surprisingly they’re somewhat similar. In functional terms however, Google+ wins hands down.

Privacy on Facebook has always been a bugbear. My own concern is less with how much is public (it is a social network after all) but their strange inability to match privacy settings with the layout; the sections on the configuration page are as if for a different version of the UI, it’s that bad. Google+ on the other hand, allows me to configure the privacy in-line with the layout, and combined with Circles it becomes not only easier but more flexible. For example, my telephone details are only visible to people in my “Family” circle.

Circles are how you organise your contacts; Google+ defaults with “Friends”, “Family”, “Acquaintances” and “Following”, but you can create your own. It’s intuitive, you can tell they’ve spent a lot of time on the UI and it’s at the core of everything; who I share to and what I look at, the default is ‘Public’ but it’s very easy to change. I also like that the share function is plumbed into the Google toolbar at the top; Gmail, Documents and Picasa (soon to be re-branded Google Photos), to name a few, have got it so far.

Hangouts look like fun, though I'm not sure how I'll use them, and I can’t quite see how Sparks fits. With Google Buzz... at the moment my Buzz is a Twitter reader; once Google+ is fully featured I expect it to disappear. And one of those features not yet (but surely soon) available will be some kind of search function, combined with the possible use of hash tags, though with tags I’m not so convinced; of course I'm basing this on how I personally use Twitter.

What I’d really like is a level of integration - or shared functionality - with my blog, which given it’s hosted on Blogger (soon to be re-branded Google Blogs) may one day be possible. I read a post where one brave soul had decided to move their blog to Google+, and if you’re only concerned with content I can see how that might work; but blogs aren’t only content, they provide a personalised look and feel, your own brand as it were. Essentially I’d like to be able to share my blog content on Google+, and to share the Google+ comments within my blog; Google+ and my blog would thus become different frameworks for the same blog data, and my blog data one source to my Google+ stream. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait.


  1. I'm going to have to spend some time figuring this new toy out. Right now I'm using my husband's school computer and it doesn't have Chrome and we can't add or delete programs. I understand some people in my circles are having trouble with Firefox using G+.