This morning, I received an invite into Google latest attempt to slow down Facebook – Google+. It’s a service that has been receiving its fair share of initial praise from the technorati, probably because Google has implemented Google+ with what we’ve come to know as basic social networking conventions. Things like a newsfeed, profiles with photos, and groups (called “circles” in Google+). This doesn’t feel like the Gmail plug-in that Google Buzz felt like. Nor does it have the complexity of the computer science Ph. D student dissertation that Google Buzz was.
I’ve been playing with it for about a half hour now. And it’s…OK. Scoble is loving it because seemingly because of tech early adopters (in the same way that FriendFeed was). But diverse subject matter is exactly what Google+ is missing right now and only when the masses have arrived can full judgment on Google+ be made.
I did enjoy the process of creating circles of friends. The interface reminded me of a seating plan for a dinner reception. Work friends here…family over there…people I went to college with in this circle. The Hangout video chat feature contains much potential. I’m still looking for a social service that will cause group video chatting to tip. The Hangout has that promise.
Of course the big question is will people abandon Facebook for Google+? At this very early point, my initial gut reaction is no way. Facebook has embedded social networking within our culture, but not to the point that the majority of people are willing to switch to something new. Changing your social networking behavior is not as simple as simple as dropping Coke for Pepsi. For most, switching from Facebook to Google+ will mean convincing a dozen or so people to switch with you.