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Google+ is Active, not Passive, Social Networking

This past week saw the introduction of Google+, the search behemoth’s entry into the social networking fray. A slew of posts, articles, opinion pieces, etc. were sure to flow – and as I settled down with some time and a backlog of links to review, here are my initial thoughts on the service.


Do I need yet another social networking platform? Not really, I’ve got my personal (Facebook) and professional (LinkedIn) networks somewhat segregated, and I am falling a bit behind in regular tweets and blog entries – the value waxes and wanes over time. Still, I’ve been impressed with Google’s overall track record on innovative tools for the “personal cloud” (i.e. how can I run my own life / my start-up / my virtual business sans infrastructure?)

  • Ahem … Google Wave notwithstanding … but everyone gets a mulligan every once in a while, yes?
  • In the various reviews / blogs, many call out that Google+ will replace / obviate the need for Google Buzz. Funny, I barely registered that one … a finnegan?

First impression: the basic interface / layout seems unimpressive, just another “skin” over the basic LinkedIn / Facebook layout. The UI tricks in Circles (drag and drop into groups) is cute, and it’s the little “usability” things that get a fair chunk of the universe to salivate … but I’m looking for something insightful …

Sparks just looks like Yet Another take on aggregated, automated search. I can follow news topics in Google News or companies on LinkedIn, subscribe to Google Alerts in eMail or RSS feeds in my feed reader; Sparks is just the Google+ version of an in situ enabler for watching the world go by

Hangouts actually looks promising – a video chat room that allows groups to speak and see each other. The first-time install process was a typical, classy example of well designed, tech savvy, user-empathetic instructions that eludes corporate IT.

  • Ahem … looking for examples of why folks don’t like corporate IT? Or, suggestions for skill sets and training required in modern IT?

However – to be a real enterprise tool, it desperately needs the ability to screen-share. The majority of my collaborative, video-enabled meetings-at-a-distance typically revolve around a presentation or spreadsheet that we are reviewing.

Active vs Passive: I found that I was looking for ways to incorporate feeds from Twitter and this blog … but I noted what MC Siegler called out in his writeup. Content doesn’t make it into Google+ unless I specifically put it in there; if/when I build up an active, complex nesting of Circles, that editorial tweak has the potential to jack up the overall relevance score, and make Google+ an impactful tool for workgroups in a professional setting. Combine that with the readily-available face-to-face Hangout interaction – it’s a social networking platform that leans a bit more to Active, not Passive, connections. Marshall Kirkpatrick has some very insightful notes on this idea, expanding on the notion that communication needs contextual integrity (a reasonable expectation of the proper level of privacy in this context – or, freedom from worrying about who’s listening in).

  • At this point, however, it’s very tough to get real interactions going – I need to get folks that I know – and would actively participate – to join Google+. I got my invite through a Lifehacker forum last week, and the person that kindly sent me an invite hasn’t even completed their profile yet.

Social Networking for the Enterprise: The really interesting notes come from folks like Dennis Howlett and R. “Ray” Wang, longtime commenters on the enterprise IT scene. Howlett’s writeup on Google+ in the Enterprise is  a bit breathless, but I suspect this comes from years of wading through the so-called Enterprise 2.0 offerings from other quarters; he also notes the contextual power of Circles (when done right). Wang writes about the Google+ and the consumerization of IT – where I (above) call out the usability, he is stressing his five pillars of Consumer Tech and how Google’s approach lines up so nicely with what the consumer market has been trained to expect.

But don’t take my word for it – check out these writeups, my link list for the topic (hey, I even tagged and shared ’em via Google Reader … and the

At this time, Google+ is still invite only – last weekend, there was quite a rush of wannabe early adopters, so I am not in a position to give out invites – but if you are interested, let me know, and I will send out invites as soon as I am enabled!

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