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Some interim thoughts on Google+ - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Some interim thoughts on Google+
This started as a comment to an LJ friend, but then grew, so I'm making it into a post.

I've been using Google+ for a few weeks now and I am still not sure whether I really enjoy it or find it useful. Now that I have Yet Another Place to read stuff online, I'm starting to feel my online presence is somewhat scattered. It used to be so easy back in the days of Usenet. A group was focused on a particular topic and whilst a little leeway was usually allowed, if you were in rec.arts.sf.composition, you were supposed to be posting about writing SF. This also applied to the other forums I used. If I was posting to an OU forum, I was either in teacher mode or student mode, but I knew what was appropriate and I could adopt the appropriate register for my posts. (I've noticed that I use slightly different language in the different forums. Sometimes it's quite subtle, but there are things like different in jokes etc so a post that feels right for one forum doesn't quite fit in another.)

But I don't really know who I'm trying to be on G+. Am I the professional teacher, the amateur photographer, the writer, the reader of SF, fantasy and children's books, the person trying to lose weight and introduce more activity into her life, the mother or the sister? At different times and with different people, I am all of these things (and more), but until now I have tended to use different a different medium to communicate with each group or person. For example, I use the OU's own forums to communicate with fellow tutors or my students, Flickr is for talking about photography and sharing photos, Goodreads and LJ are for posts about reading, LJ is for posts about writing and exercise, SMS and Facebook are for communicating with family. This way I can adopt my writing style to suit the audience and subject.

Except that I get the feeling that Google want me to use G+ for everything. "See", they say, "you can have circles and read and post accordingly." Well, perhaps. Perhaps I need to think more seriously about how best to use Circles for both reading and posting, but right now I'm left wondering how can I write posts in a way that will appeal to everyone on my G+ contact list? The answer is, I can't. I can't be all things to all people.

Anyway, though that is perhaps a problem I can solve by better use of Circles, I've also noticed that while LJ posts are almost invariably about something (even if it's only what the poster had for lunch!), G+ posts are mostly about sharing something from somewhere else. Well, if I wanted to read things from elsewhere, then I would look elsewhere. I hang out online to communicate with people I know online, not to read the latest Cool Thing from X newspaper or Y blog. I can find my own online newspapers or blogs to read if that's what I want to do, which I don't.

Perhaps the idea is that the link is being offered as a starting point for a conversation, but I don't have the time or the mental energy to read numerous articles so I can debate them. OK, perhaps that just means that G+ isn't offering what I want or need, but it seemed like a site with a lot of potential -- if only I can work out what that potential is!

Ironically, I have picked up one useful idea from a link posted to G+ that does seem to be working quite nicely, namely to keep a notebook with a log of my daily activities. I had been doing this for some years on a spreadsheet, but I now do it on paper which moves one activity from computer to a non-digital format and allows me to draw silly little pictures to illustrate what I'm doing. (I'd link to the post, but though I can almost always remember who posted what on LJ and quickly backtrack through their posts to find the one I want, on G+ because you are stuck with one user icon and no way to customise one's journal, everything seems impersonal and I haven't a clue who posted the link to it in the first place. No, wait! Here it is "One keeping a logbook". I found it by rummaging around in my browser's history.)

The idea behind the log (for me anyway) is that when I'm borderline depressed, To Do Lists just increase the feeling that I can't cope and so I like to keep Things Done lists as well which help to reassure me that I did do useful stuff each day, even if subjectively it didn't feel as though I did. Also, now I'm keeping it in a notebook form it might help point out why there are some days when it seems easy to plough through the tasks and other days I just want to sleep or vegetate in front of the computer.

Anyway, this has rambled on long enough. Once I've finished this batch of marking, I'll sit down and rationalise my Circles and see if that helps me get more out of Google+. For the moment, I'll just regard it as a work in progress.

Current Mood: pensive pensive

15 comments or Leave a comment
ellarien From: ellarien Date: August 12th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've also noticed that my G+ stream seems to be predominantly sharing of images, links and videos from elsewhere. (And the limitations of the format don't always make it easy to tell whether the caption is the poster's thoughts or comes from the source material.) I wonder if this is partly because people aren't yet comfortable enough with the new venue to share personal stuff there, or have other places to do that. Also, the only person in my circles that I've ever met in person is a rubber chicken, so if people are posting personal thoughts and experiences I'm probably not in the right circles to see them.

Also also, I keep getting added by people I've never even heard of, though so far this hasn't really been a problem.
jhetley From: jhetley Date: August 12th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am still wandering around there in a fog, trying buttons and such. I have noticed that finding people is not helped by the "real name" policy, when so many of the folks I know from a decade or so on-line have used pseudonyms. I know who they are under those names, but in Real Life?

And G+ suffers from the same limitations as Facebook, when it comes to trying to have an actual conversation. No threading.
green_knight From: green_knight Date: August 12th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm Green Knight, but I wouldn't have looked for the long version of your name.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 12th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've found and added you now. :)
lizziebelle From: lizziebelle Date: August 12th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I still haven't figure out what to do with G+, either. Most of my friends there are mirroring from elsewhere or posting links, too. Which seems a waste of time to me; if you're posting the same thing everywhere (Twitter, FB, G+, LJ), why bother having all those services? I'm trying to post different things in different places, and not overlap too much. Which takes up more time, but I hope is more interesting to contacts who also overlap.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 12th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a conundrum really! If you post the same content to multiple places, why bother having multiple places? But if you post different content to different places, then friends may miss out on stuff they are interested in because they only read in one place.
green_knight From: green_knight Date: August 12th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm more likely to post to G+ than LJ if I have something I want to share - image, link, quick thought - and particularly, if I'm out and about. I have to admit that I like seeing what blogs other people read and what sources *they* use - I don't have time to 'surf the net' so being pointed at useful resources by people whose interests overlap with mine is a useful thing for me.

I have an app called 'Epic Win' on my iPhone which casts achievements in RPG terms - it makes me smile whenever I use it. I'm also finding the Time Manager app useful - it can be depressing to see that I've just marked the whole day LJDW (which isn't true, but it means I couldn't be bothered to log it accurately, so it's information in itself.)

If G+ went away tomorrow, I don't think I would miss it much.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 12th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is quite easy to scroll past links on G+ that don't look interesting, so I suppose it's not a big problem, but I'm trying to avoid the Adding Yet Another Time Sink problem and it is tempting to try to read all the blog posts etc.
green_knight From: green_knight Date: August 12th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think this is the greatest difference between G+ and Livejournal. LJ/DW I try to catch up with - I don't read all of it, but I will try to glance at my whole flist in case something happens I want to comment on. G+ I treat as a running stream - I will look at it, see whether anything interesting is happening, and when I run out of time, I will go and do something else.

Part of that is that there is so much of it (I don't follow that many people, but right now some of them are posting a lot), but the algorithm that bumps things with fresh comments to the top mean that little-commented-upon posts don't get a chance to be seen unless you happen to catch them early.
muuranker From: muuranker Date: August 12th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't work out how to use g+, either.

If I want to share a link, I do that on facebook. I guess google+ might be for people who don't want to have facebook? Except on facebook, you can search for groups and campaigns, and I am failing at that on G+.

heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 12th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't like Facebook and only use it for very close family, so I thought G+ might be useful as another way to keep in touch with online friends. However, it seems pointless to just post the same stuff to G+ that I post here.

Having said that, I have added people on G+ who are not on my Friendslist, though whether they will read what I post, I don't know. :(
jhetley From: jhetley Date: August 12th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
A number of Facebook defectors to G+ have jumped ship, quite publicly, over Facebook policies. Just as some people have moved from LJ to Dreamwidth because of policies and difficulties here.
aulus_poliutos From: aulus_poliutos Date: August 12th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not starting another online platform. I have my blog, and I may get a website should I get published, but that's it. My LJ account is for commenting right now, with the option to use the f-lock feature to post writing snips I want feedback on from a chosen group of people.

I'm active in two book forums and a writer chat, and that's it. No Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Whateverwillbecoolnextyear. I'm the Grand Master of Procrastination already and don't need more evil minions. :D
ellarien From: ellarien Date: August 12th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Curiously enough, the latest Dreamwidth news suggests that they're picking up users on the rebound from G+ -- maybe because of problems with the "real name" policy, I guess.
dendrophilous From: dendrophilous Date: August 13th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm using Google+ for larger-scale networking. Unlike on facebook, I'm adding authors, agents, editors, etc who I don't know. Someday I'd like to ditch FB and LJ for G+ just to streamline things, but not everyone is there yet. I can also post twitter-like stuff there without worrying about length, and easily post links. So it's a mix of that for my friends and stuff geared towards the networking goal.

Things are scattered, but I watch Twitter and G+ all day, and do brief checks on FB and LJ approximately twice a day, so it's not too bad.
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