Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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More thoughts on Google+

I thought this presentation by Vincent Wong raised some interesting points.

It's public, so I assume anyone can see it, even if you don't have a Google+ account.

After following the link, if you double-click on the first slide, it will run as a presentation.

My personal thoughts on Google+ are that he's probably right. I don't honestly think Facebook are going to lose their core users, ie the people who want to keep in touch with friends and family that they know face-to-face. The inertia of moving 750 million people across is just too huge. Besides, there is no point for most people; if you know your Facebook friends and are genuinely friends with them, Facebook is fine. What Facebook doesn't do well, however, is enabling you to have different types of relationship with different people, for example being all chatty and informal with some and businesslike with other. Google+ does that really well.[1]

Neither is Google+ going to be a threat to Twitter which does the ephemeral, up to the minute public conversation really well. (Though you could use Google+ that way if you want.)

Where I can see Google+ really scoring is as a way of working collaboratively, whether that's for creative projects, business or teaching. When I ran my trial creative writing course, I set up a dedicated forum, but now I could do the same thing much more easily with Google+ circles. Instead of uploading documents as attachments, they can just be placed in Google documents and shared.

If you have your own dedicated forum, then it's likely to be slightly different to all the forums people have used before and the first few days are spent getting everyone familiar with how it works. If people already know the interface and have an account already, you hit the ground running. What I'm really interested in though are the hangouts. I've played a little with audio and video conferencing on the OU's system, but Hangouts seem to let you do the same thing much more easily. Yes, there was already Skype, but instead of either having to run a complex system of forums and videoconferencing that your students/collaborators/clients have to learn (which is what a big organisation like the OU can do for their students) or having to cobble together an ad hoc arrangement using a service here and a service there (as I was doing with my creative writing course), Google+ neatly integrates everything you would need. It could be absolutely brilliant for running virtual writers' workshops. Online Milfords, anyone?

You could do virtual conventions too. We already have bittercon on LJ, but with Google+, in addition to discussion of posts or links to other content, you could actually have panels in real time if you wanted.[2] At the moment, you're limited to 10 people in a Hangout, but that may be extended. It may also become possible to record a Hangout, so you could have interviews and panel discussions that people could access later. If things happen elsenet, eg on LJ, then you can just link to them and Google+ becomes The One Place you need to look instead of remembering to check the LJ feed and the various Wordpress and Blogger blogs and the blogs on people's own websites.

Anyway, I'm still dabbling around at the shallow end of Google+, but I can see that it will be far more that just another social network where you can chat to your mates, it has a lot of potential for serious collaboration.

[1] LJ does it, of course, if you have a paid account, but the user base is relatively small and people already have too many accounts online and if they're not here already, they're unlikely to want to create yet another one just to read specific posts by someone they find interesting.

[2] If you don't want to use the video, it can be audio only or text chat. Or a mixture of all three, depending on people's preferences.

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