My Google+ invite came in a good timing. I am seldom an early adopter when it comes to technology. I have yet to install a webcam for my computer. When I first signed up for Google+, I was curious, in a healthily skeptical way. The timing was good because as CNN has recently reported, some of us just need a reboot. Facebook has served its purpose. I have had a fun time interacting with friends whom I know, ‘friends’ whom I do not know online. There has been a lot of time investment in building my social network. Despite the good time I had, there is some discomfort in using Facebook.
Top of my concern is privacy issue and the lack of control over who should see the stuffs I write and the stuffs others write about me in Facebook in a micro level. I could set up groups and fiddle with the access control. But in real life, that is hardly practical. For instance, I could say, none of my acquaintances are allowed to tag me into their pictures. What if there is this one acquaintance who has this one great photograph that I wish I could have been tagged? Or I could say, all my good friends are able to tag me into their pictures. What if there is this one picture that I really do not wish to be tagged in spite of the good intent? Sure I could remove the tag. But most of the time, it is too late. Do I want my friends to be aware of my recent activity in participating in some of the political debates over other Facebook pages or the walls of my friends? Some interactions are meant to be segregated. I could tweak the security setup in Facebook to handle the situations as mentioned and more. However, balancing being too open and too close in Facebook is never easy.
Then comes Google+. It took me a while to set it up and get used to the way how G+ works. Once I got through the initial hurdle, the first thing I notice is that friends in my circles are really my friends (hence the reboot). Friends who I know of and am interested in reading what they share online. I have complete control over how each of my message is shared – publicly, to a set of circles, or even down to the individuals. Do I want to disallow resharing of what I write in G+? Do I want to disable comments? The decision is all mine to made, at the point of sharing, based on the circumstance.
The second thing I notice is that G+ promotes a more causal networking. Let’s say I find an interesting topic and I participate in the discussion. And I happen to like some of the comments one person has made. I find him interesting and wish to hear more about what he shares on a regular basis. In Facebook, I would need to add him as a friend. But is he really a ‘friend’? If I was him, would I want to confirm such a request? In G+, I can add people into my circles. They will be aware of my action. But it is up to them if they wish to add me into theirs and potentially see some of their more private sharing. In most cases, it does not have to be so. I could be interested reading more about how Jenson Button feels before and after the race. And what sports he does when he is not racing. But I don’t think Button would have the time to read what I share online.
Just an example.
That brings up to the second part of this entry: Twitter. I read that some start to complain having an extra social network to follow the same set of people and hear the same thing. Yet another place to broadcast or promote their online presence. To me, it is never an issue. I use Twitter to follow news and gossips. I use Facebook to keep track of what some of my friends do. Once Google+ is open for business for the celebrities and company profiles, I suspect I would drop Twitter. Because it is so much easier to zoom into the topics of my interest in G+ via circles. The quality of sharing in G+ seems higher too because there is no limit in characters and we are free to edit the messages and comments after they are published. As for Facebook, it may take longer for me to transit out of it because most of my friends are still clinging onto what may not seem broke to them. I still occasionally drop by Facebook. But the majority of my activity is on G+, for now.
It is still early to say if Google+ will be a success. I certainly welcome a break from Facebook and have the opportunity to approach social networking in a fresh new way. If you want a Google+ invite, you may drop me an email.
Circle me at http://gplus.to/wilfridwong