Monday, July 18, 2011

A Google+ Invite: I'm Somebody!

I have to admit.  Google knows how to launch a product.  You start off small by inviting a few people.  You let this select group test it before it's released to the general public.  When others hear about it on the news, they'll get curious and want to check it out.  Since they're not invited, you send them this message:
"Right now, we're testing with a small number of people, but it won't be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone.  Leave us your email address and we'll make sure you're the first to know when we're ready to invite more people."
You let them click on a "Keep Me Posted" button, and then you ignore them.  It just makes them want to join even more.


I clicked on that "Keep Me Posted" button on July 2.  I wanted to check out Google+ so I could write a review, but no Invite came.  People were tweeting and posting "I just got a Google+ Invite," as if saying, "I'm somebody!  I'm part of the chosen few!"  I clicked on that "Keep Me Posted" button a second time, and still no Invite.

Then on July 14, Google announced that they've had 10 million users join.  Really?  Where was my Invite?  After all, I had made my intentions to join known--twice!

I then came to learn that anyone in Google+ can invite anyone.  I asked around, and someone invited me.



If you want to be somebody, too, let me know, send me your gmail address (has to be gmail), and I'll send you an invite.  You don't have to accept the invitation, but at least you, too, will be able to tweet or post that you're somebody.

Now for the review, two weeks in the waiting:

On the most part, Google+ looks like Facebook merged with Twitter using a different graphical interface.  Google+ uses "Circles," which seems to serve the same purpose of "Lists" in Facebook.  You can assign people to different Circles.  When you send a message, you can choose which Circles can see that message.  You can choose one Circle, or several, or All.  You can even choose "Public" if you want every Joe-Blow to see your post.

You can add non-Google+ friends to your Circles.  Supposedly, when you send a message to that Circle, your friend will get an email containing the message.  However, when I tested out this feature, it didn't appear to work.  That is, my friend never got the message.  Next, I tried sending a message directly to that person.  She got that email.  She also got a Google+ Invite along with it.  Lucky her!

Posts appear in something called a "Stream."  It's just another word for "News Feed."

Unlike in Facebook, You don't need permission to add someone to your Circle.  You just do it.  Then you can see all of their "Public" posts.  This is like following someone on Twitter.  However, if they don't do any "Public" posts and they don't add you to one of their Circles, then you're just out of luck.

Then there's the "Incoming" stream.  This part's confusing.  It's for posts made by people who have you in one of their Circles, but you don't have them in one of your Circles.  Let's say I put Will Wheaton into my "Following" Circle.  Since he doesn't know me, he's probably going to ignore me.  Assuming he doesn't block me, any message I send to the "Following" Circle will appear in his "Incoming" stream.  Imagine the spam Will's going to get!!  Supposedly there's a way to choose which people's posts show up in your "Incoming" stream.  I can't imagine keeping up with 1000 new followers every day.  Even I (a nobody until today) will probably get barraged by spam in my "Incoming" stream.  I predict that eventually, everyone will just ignore that stream, and it'll become the butt of jokes on late night TV.

Just like in Facebook, you can upload videos and photos, and share links.  I noticed that Google+ went ahead and imported all the photos I ever loaded into this blog--even the photos I deleted.  It's unclear who can see these photos.  It's set to "Whoever has the link," whatever that means.

There's something called "Sparks," which looks like a glorified Google news stream.  You type in the subject you're interested in, and related news articles pop up.  If you like something you like, click on "Share" and it goes to your Circles.  It's a different kind of setup that may actually take off.

The "Hangout" feature also looks interesting.  It allows you to do a kind of conference video chat with several people.  First you have to download the plugin.  And if you're on a Mac, you'll also need the latest Flash plugin.  I don't know why--it's one of those weird bugs they're trying to fix, but I don't care, as the Flash update fixed things. 

But I don't have anyone to Hang out with, yet!  I just hope this turns out better than Skype.

The "+1" functionality is the Google+ version of the "Like" button.  I'm not sure what it does, but some people are saying it will revolutionize search engines.

The most awesomeness is that Google+ will be integrated with all other Google products.  Now that I've joined Google+, whenever I go to iGoogle, it says "+Melvyn" in the upper left corner of the screen.  If I click on that, it takes me to the Google+ home page.  It would be convenient if I could access everything I need in one place (though this will probably freak out all the 1984 conspiracy theorists--Big Brother is watching!).  In fact, if you look at the bottom of this post, you'll see a "+1" button down there.  If you wouldn't mind, could you click that for me?  :)

So there you have it: Google+.  It's different.  It's new.  And anybody who's somebody is doing it.  Will it replace Facebook?  Will it attract all those people who have been avoiding social networking up till now?  Only time will tell.  All I can say now is that Google+ is much more interesting than Buzz and other recent Google attempts.  It may be as good as Facebook.  It will at least give them a run for their money.


Joe said...

This is an informative review, Melvyn. Thanks.

Janelle727 said...

Please send me an invite! (

Anonymous said...

invite me, and i'll spread the word about your site :)


Melvyn Windham said...

Invites sent. Enjoy being somebody!

Joe said...


Scott said...

i like the blog.

an invite to scott(d)herting(a)gmail(d)com would be great

Melvyn Windham said...

Sent at least ten invites today. I'm only inviting people who have gmail accounts. That's kind of a drawback for Google+.

Melancholy Specter said...

Are you still inviting? I'm up for something new even though I seem to be one of the last people to hear about Google +. lol