Well, I didn’t start out with a Google+ invite, but I managed to sneak in on Friday during the Invite Circle period (thanks, Jaymz!). Short version: I like it. A lot. I think the spirit of FriendFeed lives on here, and that’s a good thing.

There’s plenty of analysis and comparison floating around (including an interesting criticism from an ex-FBer here), but so far, the important factors for me are: 1) it’s a SN reboot. Usually a good thing. 2) it makes it easy to create, manage and use Circles (lists). 3) it allows for one-way associations (following).

Social networking reboots allow one to push through a manifestation of boyd’s law: Adding more users to a social network [site] increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance. Like it or not, the easiest thing to do is often wander on to a new SN site. And with the added benefits of one-way associations and easy list management, deciding what to do with that annoying person added you a Circle message is easier. Either just leave it as is (dumping them into Incoming), or put them in a list you never use (which gives them the nice you’ve been added back message without telling them the Circle name is NeverPostToThis.

List (Circles…whatever) management is a big, big deal. The fact the the necessary tools to do this are much easier to use in Google+, coupled with the fact that they are part of the platform from launch, should make an enormous difference (comparing to Facebook, of course). I actually do use lists extensively on Facebook, but management and (especially) usage takes a lot more effort there. Most people don’t bother, and when you have 450 friends, posting has to fall to the least common denominator. Google+’s Circles already make it feel much more like FriendFeed to me, where I had far more interesting and varied discussions than I have on Facebook.

The hybrid relationship model is also useful; you can have one-way connections (similar to Twitter’s follow), or full two-way connections. For me, this makes connecting to BigNames like Leo Laporte (or even Sergey Brin) something that I’m far more willing to do. For whatever reason, I’ve never found the fan pages on Facebook a particularly compelling option. With the Google+ following model, I still feel connected directly to the person, rather than a separate page for fans; I just am only able to participate when they make a post that I’m able to see (usually ‘Public’). I think it strikes a nice balance.

I think I’ll use it differently that I do Facebook, and that’s not a bad thing (Among other things, I expect to use it more than I do Facebook). As I mentioned at the beginning, it reminds me the most of Friendfeed, a service that I really enjoyed several years ago (and which ironically was purchased by Facebook in 2009). Friendfeed still exists, but the majority of the user group seemed to move on after the Facebook acquisition. If Google+ can fill even part of that hole, I’d be quite happy.

One thing though…let’s get on with the inviting! I realize the field test is intended to help smooth out any hiccups, but lack of network is as big a problem as server issues. Google, you’ve got a limited amount of attention time to take advantage of here…don’t waste it!

One thought on “Google+: First thoughts

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