Allow me to begin with a turn of phrase I stumbled upon that I think sums up quite a bit:
Unlike other networks that I have to actually go to, this one is where I already am.
This above all other things is why I am so drawn to Google’s new social network. I already keep gmail open most of the time, and I use an Android based phone, and I use the Chrome browser wherever I can. I use calendar and reader and documents and a host of other Google applications already, so it just makes sense to thread a social network into all of that and put it right at the top of the page for every one of them.
Anyway, if you wish to find me there, click this.
When I first started using Facebook, it was built largely around Groups or Networks. I remember joining the network for my college and later my high school, one for my work and another for the state I lived in (or it might have been geographic region, I forget exactly). Of course, that was back when your status was just your status and not a feed of previous status or a place to share random information, but I really liked the groups. Then the groups got pushed the back and then they went away altogether. They are back now, but totally different. Either way, what I liked most about them was that I could talk to someone in the same group as me without having to “friend” them and give them access to all of me. So I was very happy when Facebook introduced Lists, which I immediately used to sort and group my friends, but still, I missed being able to chat with people who share an interest of mine but weren’t my “friends”. I suppose to a degree the fault is mine because I didn’t seek out Facebook’s Groups after they re-implemented them, but it is also Facebook’s because they trained me not to seek them out by taking them away in the first place and driving me toward a “one feed to rule them all” design.
I digress. On Google+ I’m enjoying the Circles. While on some level they are functionally the same as Lists from Facebook, the interface is much easier to use and it is brought to the forefront of the overall design, not hidden in a dark corner like Lists. And using Circles when sharing is several clicks easier than using Lists for sharing. That ultimately ends up being the central factor to why I like Google+ over Facebook so much: everything that is hidden under several clicks in Facebook is closer to or on the surface at Google+.
Google+ also feels more like Twitter than Facebook, which is good. On Twitter I follow a number of comedians and pundits and other random & assorted people, people who I’d probably have to Like their Fan Page on Facebook. And again, Liking a Page on Facebook just feels more removed than Following a Person on Twitter, even if the result is exactly the same. So on Google+ I’ve got a Following Circle that I’ve tossed in the people I’d follow on Twitter that I don’t expect to follow me back. And while I’m no celebrity, there are people who follow me on Twitter that I don’t follow back, and I suspect the same will eventually be true of Google+.
I’m also excited because I like being in the Beta phase of almost anything, especially when the developers are actually listening. A couple of rounds of fixes have gone in, and lots more are coming. It just feels good to be part of the process. I’ve suggested a few things so far and while I don’t claim all the credit because I’m sure others submitted the same requests it is kind of cool to see those things coming to be. I’ve made numerous suggestions to Facebook other the years and since not a single one has ever been implemented, either I’m absolutely crazy and wanting things no one else does or Facebook doesn’t listen.
Playing over at Google+ has eaten up a lot of my time and will probably continue to do so. I’ve always been luke warm when it comes to social networks, dabbling a bit here and there, but I think one has finally pulled me all the way in. Down the rabbit hole I go…