So, what is Google+?
That was the question that struck me today while reading xkcd.
It would seem that Google is trying their hands at a full scale social network.
They have tried and
failed not quite succeeded in the past. Google is fantastic at seaching, presenting information and seraching and processing your own data.
Their social services have been less successful.
Google Buzz never really took off, and their collaborative tool, Google Wave is now being killed off (at least as a Google service).
But maybe this time they will succeed. The central difference between Facebook and Google+ seems to be what Google describes as circles. Basically you have to sort your contacts. This ensures that things you just want to share with a select few of your contacts doesn’t reach the eyes of all your contacts. The obvious example being the pictures from last night that you may want to share with your close friends, but maybe not with your boss.
Facebook does have something like this implemented (they call it lists), but it is far from intuitive to use.
Another strength that Google has in the coming struggle with Facebook is their track-record. Google has a motto of don’t be evil. Facebook has with their actions time and time again showed that they in fact don’t care about the privacy of their users.
From my point of view, anything else than Facebook can almost only be better. However, that it will be up to everyone to make up their own mind on this matter. The problem with social media is that what really matters is if the people you want to interact with are using your network of choice or not. Not much fun sharing funny stories only with your self…
One issue that Google+ won’t be tackling, in regard to privacy, is the fact that all the data will be located on Google’s servers. Being an American company, that means that quite a lot of law enforcement agencies will have access to the data – and they don’t have to inform the people whose data gets handed over.
In the long run I hope to get all my social media needs fulfilled by some sort of distributed system, where I at least have the option to control my own data. When it matures out of the current testing status, Diaspora might be a candidate to provide this.
In the meantime I am very interested in seeing how well Google manages to implement their Google+ social network. As I stated above, from my point of view, anything is going to better than Facebook. The possible integration with other Google services, such as Picasa, also seems interesting.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.