What Demographic Google Thinks You Belong To
In which Google thinks I’m a 25-30 year old female with an interest in games, books, and scifi/fantasy on my work account…and an 18-24 year old male with an interest in baked goods and wrestling on my personal account.
“If talking is one thing, and conversation another, then what is chat?”
“Time is misspent twice: we talk about life as thoughtlessly as we live it. And the server farms know this.”
I had a brief taste of god-like invite power last night after wrangling myself a Google+ invite and doling out invites till I turned into a pumpkin and went to bed. As a result, a few of my friends managed to set up accounts before Google shut down invites. I’m glad - what good is testing a social network if you don’t have friends around to test it with, right? With so few people using Google+, it’s hard to say for sure what it will look like once more voices start filling the empty space. Right now it feels eerily like my Buzz feed felt when I first started it. Already avid Twitter fans, most of my friends never jumped on that particular Google train, but I’m holding out for Google+, if only for this reason.
A few thoughts so far:
- Fairly intuitive controls. Or at least for anyone familiar with Google, smartphones and social networking at large. It took a little while to find my way around certain features, the profile page among them, but it wasn’t anything the help feature or my friends couldn’t help me figure out. Of course, all of the friends who found their way on to Google+ last night are tech savvy sorts, so it’ll be interesting to see reactions from other sectors.
- Privacy. The biggie, yeah? One of my biggest pet peeves on Facebook is the inability to simply find and fix my privacy options. I constantly feel as though I have to dig through half a dozen pages to get to the offending drop down box, only to discover later that there’s another backdoor somewhere I’ve missed. This is not to say that Google+ is without its privacy faults. Still, Google is starting with a largely minimalistic space that already boasts a simple way to ensure what information is going where. As a beta, that’s a good place to start. They’re going to get a rush of complaints and concerns, sure, but that’s what betas are for, right? What’s more important is where they go from here and it seems like they’ve got their head in the right place.
- Creating friend lists really is as simple as grab and drag. The Circle feature offers you a way to create and personalize friend lists based on what you want to share with each group. This has dual purpose, giving you a way to privatize your communication while also providing a way to share articles, etc, with people who might be more specifically interested. As someone who uses her personal Facebook account to manage a work-related group, this is particularly important to me. Google+ essentially offers me a way to maintain my personal life without rejecting friend requests from my work contacts. I can cultivate work relationships without worrying that I will inadvertently post something that could get me fired. Good deal.
- Sparks basically serve the same function as tags on Tumblr. Instead of searching one site, however, Sparks searches the internet at large, bringing back related articles, pictures, videos, etc that you can then share on your stream with any of the Circles you’d like. You can even pin the interests you search frequently for easy tracking. Unlike Tumblr, however, the tags come back with more general results - searching “Game of Thrones” brought back book reviews and show news, but it also brought back a few politically geared news articles. It’s possible that Sparks will become more intuitive with consistent use (or as Google rolls out new and refined features) but that doesn’t currently seem to be the case.
- Messages and wall posts basically don’t exist on Google+, at least at this stage of the game. Whether this is to forward the understanding that this is not Facebook or because the options just haven’t been rolled out yet remains to be seen. I can honestly say I won’t much miss those options, though. The majority of my Facebook communication these days takes place in comments; messages and wall posts can just as easily be replaces by the built in chat feature, email, and Hangouts on Google+.
- Pictures can be uploaded straight to Google+ or through Picasa - they show up in both places. This feature comes with the usual array of privacy options, allowing you to set up each album so that anyone can see it, friends can see it, certain Circles can see it, or only you can see it. I would like to see an option that would keep your pictures from being downloaded, etc, without your permission. That may exist, but I’m not familiar with Picasa and didn’t see it in my first foray through the site, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
Overall, I’d say I have a pretty positive response for Google+. It will be interesting to see what Google’s response to Facebook groups and events turns out to be, if anything, or if they will rely on their calendar and Circles to cover that. I’m also hoping to see them roll out ways to integrate blogs like Tumblr - at the moment it appears that while you can list different accounts in the Links section of a profile, you can’t set it up to post automatically.
The important thing to remember about Google+ is that it is not a Facebook copy. Sure, it has a lot of similar features, but Google’s take on social networking is more about consolidating social networking, putting all your favorite Google apps in one place. It shows that Google+ provides a centralized web experience, with your profile as the foundation. There are few things I love so much as cutting down clutter and, if they do it right, Google could steal my social networking vote by virtue of having all of my most frequently used things all in one place.
The Cognitive Cost of Doing Things(via @Lifehacker)
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that goes for your brain, too. Every time you amass the willpower to do anything, it has mental costs. Writer and strategist Sebastian Marshall identifies a few of those cognitive costs to understand how to get more done while conserving as much of your…