Google+: Getting to Know the New Cloud on the Block

Egad! Do I really want to join yet another social network?  When the topic of Google+ began appearing in network streams and feeds, I sighed and then whined like many people. But then after getting over the fact that I’d have to buck up and learn new things and find more time to poke around cyberspace, I decided, hmmm, perhaps.  After all, Google+ does bring a few goodies to the grid that I’ve been wanting to see on other clouds – any other cloud – Ning, Twitter, Linked In, to name a few, but most of all Facebook, the place I’d pretty much settled into these past few years.

I hate change. But I also know that without conceding to change, there’s no way I can move forward, much less survive online. So, I accepted the invitation to connect on Google+ and began the process of learning how to float on this new cloud. It’s slow-going, as every new online venture. I operate on the principles of the turtle who whipped the hare in the infamous fable; its moral: slow but steady wins the race. I poked around, read help links, googled for reviews, and dug up whatever info I could before clicking links or even adding profile info. I’m a careful surfer. I haven’t stumbled on any irrelevant apps for Google+ yet, although there is mobile apps, but I don’t much care for either one.  I don’t do mobile gadgets and I don’t like Farmville (yeah, I know, bah humbug).

So far, I’m not finding something super different than other social networks, but I will say I’m more impressed than I’d anticipated. Some people are reporting that it’s just another Facebook, but that’s debatable. Oh sure, it has features similar to Facebook, but there’s no way to post on someone’s “wall” or profile page (at least, I haven’t found it yet).  Actually, I consider that a huge plus+. I’ve grown weary of those particular folks who think that posting ads for embroidery digitizing on my Facebook wall is cool. I don’t even pin up my own ads except on my business page where they belong. But it would be nice to remember birthdays – or perhaps not.  There are likely many who would prefer no reminders of age, such as myself (my mind refuses to acknowledge age – except, occasionally, it does come in handy when demanding respect or a senior citizen discount).  Besides, indicating a birthday can lead to stolen-identity issues, and the bottom line is that a private e-mail or Hallmark via Postal Mail is more meaningful.

Google+ has Pages. I haven’t made one for Moonlight Design, but I’m waiting as advised at Pixability’s “Don’t Create a Google+ Page for Your Business … Yet”.

Google+ has Hangouts. Same idea as Facebook Chat with a sophisticated face-to-face feature. Not a fan of chat. (The turtle needs time to reply.)  And never have been a fan of web cams or anything else that exposes my face pre-Avon (just not enough primp-time in the day).  Face-to-face or not, chat distracts me from work like an elephant walking by the school’s first grade window – just try getting the kids back in their seats after that!

Google+ has Sparks. This is still a bit foggy in my understanding, but referred to as a “recommendation engine” it appears to be similar to Facebook’s recommendations (and/or ads) based on interests shared with other friends. From what I understand so far, Sparks brings up results closest to your own interests when searching Google+ with keywords.

Google+ has little +1 boxes. Evidently, to +1 is to Like. But there are differences, such as I can’t find a way to +1 a reply made on a comment, which I’ll miss because it’s a nice fast way to tell someone you read and appreciate their reply. Then again, it gives reason to visit that person’s profile, see what’s up in their world and give a +1 back.

Update: Thanks to Erich Campbell, I have learned that the button to +1 a reply appears when hovering over the reply/comment.

Google+ has pictures and videos. I’ve heard that it takes longer to upload photos than on Facebook, probably because uploading more than one at a time isn’t possible (yet). It didn’t take long to upload my profile pic, so I’m wondering if the rumor is caused by something else I heard – that Google+ works best through Chrome and Firefox.  But I’ll give it time.  One has to remember: Google+ is still beta.

Google+ has Circles. I’m in love with this feature! The Official Google Blog states, “we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day….”  No one sees a comment who isn’t in that Circle, unless you choose to make the comment public, which then everyone sees — even those who aren’t in your Circles.  After a few years of trying to keep my comments to family, friends and business contacts separate through using Facebook Groups and Lists, (which by the way, help only to organize and view particular posts faster) this is the one feature that has sold me on giving Google+ a fair full-fledged trial run.

If you’re curious about this new cloud on the block, check out “Google+: The Complete Guide”.  I will be doing the same and poking around the net for more help, I’m sure.  I have so much more to learn about Google+ stuff, and it will take time for this ol’ turtle to get a grip on it all, but I think I might just have to hang around.  It will be interesting to see just where this cloud is floating!