Despite being well aware of the inevitability, I still had my doubts that it would actually happen in reality. Today, I must confess that I have wholeheartedly adopted use of Google+
There’s no doubt that this is due in part to the implementation of Google Authorship (click through for a more on this elsewhere), but I could just as easily treat my G+ account as a static placeholder required for SEO purposes… so there’s more to it than this alone. In truth, the real reason I’ve found myself drawn to Google’s service lies deeper within the included functionality, and perhaps most shockingly of all, is actually to do with a social part of it – Google Communities.
Online collaboration – how things used to be
It’s worth remembering that this phenomenom of posting updates as public messages directly onto somebody else’s profile directly is a fairly recent development, coming into being organically on Myspace (remember that?). Before this, meaningful (and not so meaningful) interaction on the web was conducted in interest specific conclaves, whether that was on messageboards or newsgroups. Discussions lived or died depending on the ethusiasm for a particular topic, with people establishing a presence over time based on their contributions… not solely on a single point of reference as is the case with a Facebook style profile.
If, however, people have largely migrated from group discussion platforms towards those that are more individual-centric, then what’s so different about communities in G+? The answer isn’t anything terribly earth shattering. Quite simply, Google have managed to create a system that’s fully integrated into the other services that we find ourselves using daily, and actually managed to make it a pleasant experience.
Facebook groups – a social network failure
Whatever Facebook have managed to do well, its interface is not one of them. Infact, it’s often horrible to use. Posting is clunky, uploading pictures is temperamental at the best of times, search seems to operate on rules known only to itself, and the feeble implementation of a group feature has proven to be particularly arduous to use. In stark contrast, Google Communities have a slick, streamlined design that actually worksand makes posting and keeping track of a team workflow incredibly straightforward. This is especially true if you use Gmail, where comments can be made directly from within notification emails. Google have taken the best bits of the old collaborative approaches of the Internet and coupled it with the benefits offered by the social network model.
Don’t underestimate Google
Perhaps the biggest mistake of all is to assume that with the creation of G+, Google was just trying to re-invent the wheel and take on Facebook directly at their own game. This clever shift from the profile and status of the individual (at least for collaboration if not necessarily publishing) might well prove to be key to its success, as groups find out the advantages that it offers.
Image used under Creative Commons License – Stuart Maxwell.