I was lucky enough to have acess to Google+ during the first few days of launch. I played with it for a while and was able to see some similarities and differences between the services.
What I like about Google+ ?
- Design: The interface for Google+ seems very clean and intuitive for most of the simple tasks.
- Huddle: This seemed like a feature that I could see myself using. It’s fairly normal for most people to send a group text for a random last minute outing, but the replies are adressed only to the initial sender. This solves the problem that all the conversation is visible to everyone added to the huddle.
What I like about Facebook+ ?
- Closed Network: I have been using facebook since the fall of 2004 while I was doing my undergraduate degree. It was a nice and simple service that was public only to my own college network. Firstly, every friend on my account was someone I had personally met at least once. Secondly, every non-friend’s profile I was browsing was someone who already was going to my college and the probablity of meeting them was higher than using any of the existingg services of the time like frendster, hi5, where you could add people from half way across the world and have no clue if they are real or not.
- Being myself: Since everyone in my network is(or was 🙂 ) in my age group that I hung out during classes, libraries, or in the evenings, I am more comfortable talking about anything or being just plain silly. This was a true migration of the offline activity to the online world(read facebook wall) since it was just pure fun. This activity extended to “status messages”, “photos” as and as they were introduced with time.
What I dont like about either services today ?
- Public Network: Facebook had to eventually open up it gates due to it’s viral growth (and make money) to the general public. This meant anyone/everyone could have a facebook account and add you as a friend. Now, you had this new problem of deciding if you wanted to accept the friend request or not and then accordingly start curbing your “Being myself” behavior.
- Circles/FriendLists/Groups: Facebook came out with filters by placing friends into lists and having the option to create groups. And Google came out with the concept of Circles, which is basiclaly friend lists and groups repackaged in a nice and easy to use UI. It does solve the problem of segregating people from seeing private posts, but then it creates a new problem of having to mentally sort out content and deciding if/which posts should which set of friends see it.
- Circles (Google Specific): It’s been roughly 2 weeks since the service lauched and every other day I get an email saying “So and so” has added you to their Circle. Many of these are from people whom I had an email exchange or met them, but don really want to add them into my network. If I don’t add them, they will figure this out since they never got an email saying “I have added them to m circle” and/or find out from my profile. If I do, I need to create a new circle (again more work) for such people and start being careful what I share with whom. As of today, I do have grouped people into different circles, but all my posts are public since I am only sharing articles, or posting pictures of food/scenery. Posting content based on circles is too much work.
In all, I feel, I need a complete different network for my needs and not just UI filters like lists, groups, and circles. I liked the idea about keeping my college friends and similar people in facebook, my co workers in linkedin and so on. Ofcourse, I could always add a coworker into my facebook if we are pretty much like friends hanging out a lot and vice versa. Facebook definitey has the upper edge in real people social behavior being ported to the online world by starting as a closed college network. This didn’t happen overnight, it took years. In my opinion, I dont feel Google+ will be able to disrupt the social behavior that easily. Instead it might become a twitter like service where photos, videos, blogging is all inbuilt into the service without the 140 character limit, which is still a WIN for Google.