Google Plus or Google Minus?
Being a user of Gmail as our main email accounts at the library, we decided that perhaps it was time to see what all the fuss was about with Google + (Google plus), since we often have patrons curious about it.
Joining was incredibly easy. Once logged into Gmail, click the +You link in the top left-hand corner of the screen where all of the other Google options are listed. If you are not a Gmail user, simply go to the Google Plus homepage (plus.google.com), and click the Create an Account link. This will take you straight to the Google + registration page, where your information may already be entered (as Google has this information from your Gmail account), or you may have to enter yours in.
For more about Google Plus:
You will be given the option to add a profile picture, and the ability to allow Google to customize their advertising based on my likes and interests. We declined the latter.
Once you’ve clicked Sign Up you will be brought to the Google + intro page where you can add people and interests to your Circles. Basically, Circles are groupings of people that you can follow on Google +: the standard Circles include Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. Once you have completed entering anyone or anything you’d like into your Circles, Google + then takes you to your homepage. Here at the library we’ve concluded that the homepage is basically a mix between a Gmail inbox and a Facebook homepage, with a splash of Twitter – not a whole lot of creativity going on there, but then again, why re-invent the wheel, right?
In the centre of the page is what is known as your Stream (aka Facebook’s Newsfeed) – here you see the updates of friends, family, acquaintances and any celebrities/topics you might be following. The more people you have in your circles, the more interesting your Stream will be!
Google + also allows you to upload photos, videos, links and your location, just as Facebook does. The layout is incredibly similar, so becoming used to the interface should take minimal effort. You can also play Games on Google +. Many of the games are either the same as the numerous ones found on Facebook, or Google’s version of those games. The selection however is much smaller, with only 43 different games at this time.
The only two unique and truly interesting features that we’ve discovered with Google + are Hangouts and YouTube Playlists. Hangouts allow you to essentially have a giant video conference call with friends in your Circles via your webcams, or the cameras on some Android phones. The success of this feature would depend on how many friends etc you have in your Circles and whether or not they have access to a camera. No cam – no hangout. YouTube on the other hand pops up as a little button on the right hand side of the screen that minimizes unless you scroll your mouse over top of it. Once your mouse is on top, it springs out to become a text bar asking “What would you like to play?”. Type in the name of any artist or song title, and YouTube opens a miniature window that creates a playlist with either the artist or song in it. Now THAT is kind of cool.
Long story short, the move to Google + doesn’t seem to have invaded this side of the pond as much as in the UK (many of the topics/celebrities you can add are of UK origin). Are we moving toward a Google + nation? That’s hard to say right now. According to CBS Money Watch, analysts estimated that as of July 27, 2011, 10 million people had joined Google + (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-49640907/if-so-many-people-are-using-google-how-come-no-ones-using-it-yet/), however it’s clear to us that if those people have joined, they certainly aren’t using it at this point. Right now it appears as if Facebook and Twitter have a hold on the Google + market but what the future holds, we will have to wait and see.