Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The End of Social Media Spontaneity?: Initial thoughts on the Google+ Project

So today Google announced its latest foray into the social web, the Google+ Project. I first heard from Gizmodo, and then got the fascinating back story from Wired.
One of the main features of Google+ is a tool called Circles. It's being presented as an answer to the problem of "oversharing": on Facebook, it's a hassle (though possible) to share something with selected friends without your boss, mom, girlfriend/boyfriend #2, or anybody else who may be your Facebook friend seeing it. So Cirlces is built around creating your own custom groups with whom you can share content. That content only goes to the selected circle, not everybody in your network. Again, this is possible on Facebook with friend lists, but Facebook does not emphasize this functionality, while Circles, on the other hand, is built around it. However, my thought as I read about hyper-targeted sharing of Circles is that sometimes I like the "oversharing" aspect of social media. I like the spontaneity associated with not knowing exactly who will like or comment on what I share on Facebook, or who will retweet or reply to what I post on Twitter. The unpredictability is one of my favorite parts of using social media. Circles seems to kill that unpredictability.
My other initial thought is the obvious question: will anybody use this? I will almost certainly get onboard to at least try it out (if I ever get an invite!). But just like any other social media tool, it will only be useful if enough people are willing to learn and actively use it. I'm not sure that will happen. When I told my roommate about Google+, his initial reaction was "Another one? I feel like there's some social media fatigue going on right now. Facebook...Twitter...do we need another one?" I think this illustrates the type of uphill battle Google is facing with trying to get people to adopt yet another social tool.
So I don't like ending w/ cheesy open-ended questions, but I'm seriously curious: What are your reactions to Google+? Do you think you'll actually use it?

Note: Thanks to Shakira for clarifying Facebook's targeted sharing functionality. 

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering what this Google + business was all about. Thank you for this post! I'm on the fence...

    Methinks that Google is taking over the world...