So Google+ initially was just another Google beta that only Googlers and their high-school friends had access to. I didn’t know much about it nor had I heard anything earth shattering. I remembered Google Buzz and my disappointment with what it was and how I used it. It never really became the email replacement it was hyped to be. Google Wave wasn’t much of a success.
So Google+ slipped out onto the Internet.
Then, LifeHacker posted a Google+ invite thread to Facebook. So I went over to the thread and got swept up I the enthusiasm of trying to get invites. I registered on LifeHacker and posted but because I had just signed up I couldn’t get in. People were posting that they were in, then people would reply with their email. The whole point of the thread was to give a forum for people to pay it forward.
So I went all guerrilla and started watching for people who’d just got in and who where paying it forward. They’d post “Got in! Hey thanks whoever” so I’d go back in the thread and find their request. Once I found that, I would email them asking for the invite. I kept my email polite and short – explaining that because I had just signed up I couldn’t request and to please invite me.
At first, I didn’t know what to do. It seemed familiar to me, and the Google+ black toolbar hovered patiently as I poked and prodded the site. Some features made sense to me, like Circles. Others, like Sparks, seemed counter intuitive. But the biggest thing that stuck out to me was it was very quiet. Like some big city that had been built in the middle of China but nobody lived there yet.
Then it exploded for me. I started small, with the mobile G+ app on my phone. Then I started participating in discussions. Then I got to do a face to face video chat with Michael Dell while he flew to California.
I realized this wasn’t like Facebook at all, and I had to stop thinking like it was. This was something entirely different and new. A completely different perspective and approach. Suddenly, Facebook felt, frankly, like a small network of friends. Google+ felt like I was “outdoors”. What I feel is missing from Google+ is the feeling of my friends being outside with me. Maybe that will come as more join in and start using it. Some, I fear, won’t want to bother with leaving Facebook. And that’s ok – I don’t mind.
Now – hours upon hours later – after streams and streams of jokes, links, laughter, controversy, discovery, and contribution – I am hooked. And I don’t mean “hey this is cool, hooked”, I mean “for the love of Twinkie stuffing, this is sucking every bit of productivity out of me”.
This feels like the Internet has changed from a quiet, sterile world of darkness with lights of data to be accessed to a bustling city of activity teaming with life. It’s a uniquely social and personal experience all at once.
In a discussion with a total stranger, I summarized it as follows. For reference, many people on Google+ refer to it as G+.
Facebook is like living in a small town with a population just big enough where you don’t know everybody, but you have a pretty large circle of friends. Everybody knows who know everybody else is, who are friends and who aren’t. Every bit of detail is just there. And on every corner there’s a carnival barker, a preacher, a distant relative who’s codependent, and someone follows you around all day writing down everything you do and shares it with the carnival barker. Oh, and if you joke with a friend about some hot member of the opposite sex, your Grandmother starts putting scripture in front of her house.
G+ is like you are a stranger walking through a great big, busy marketplace. You don’t know anyone and they don’t know you. Everyone is trading information and breaking off into groups and discussing, laughing, and clapping. In random parts of this bazaar, you have people ( say+Michael Dell or +Kelly Ellis ) who are talking, sharing, and pinning up pictures on boards. They have people who take what they chose to share and they bring it you; but only what they want you to share. They may share dinner plans, also – but not with you. And you do the same thing. Your Grandmother might be in this marketplace also – but she’s in a circle called family. So when you start talking about that hot member of the opposite sex, you just leave that circle of people out of the conversation. They never knew it took place. Oh, and you can hold that circle of friends to secrecy by not letting them share it with just a click of the button.
Frankly – there are so many places for you to find details about Google+ that my sharing them here would be redundant and unnecessary. I’m anxious for the Google team, who are right there in the middle of the mass of activity, to feel comfortable enough to open Google+ up to the world. I’ve tried to describe my experience with Google+ in so many ways. Here are some other attempts, maybe you are a Google+ user and you agree? Maybe you soon will be and will feel completely different. For me, I feel like I found an online home that I actually care about.
For the love of all creamy stuff Twinkies – G+ is a productivity singularity.
G+ is like crack. They took the jubilant mayhem of IRC, the personal intimacy of Facebook, the democratic participation of forums, their Internet app suite of online offerings, the planar equalization of twitter, and they mixed it up in a dynamic UI that (at least while using Chrome, it seems) feels anything but like the web.
This feels like a tectonic shift in how I will use the Internet. This corner of the Internet just became a crowded, busy marketplace instead of a quiet temple. When search becomes fully integrated and the API opens up so people & organizations can "plus" their websites (adding forums, members, sparks, etc.), it’ll just grow.
G+ turned a sterile library of data into a Rave.
Something I love about G+. When Google opens up invites, you get all these new people – and when you read their comments on discussions they say things like "it’s so clean!" & "this is amazing" & "Wow++". And I think to myself "I’m right there with you, I’m so glad you get it, too."
Damn but G+ sucks you in –
I hope to see you all there very soon.