Google+ (or minus)?

I figured I’d start my first post by discussing a social media application that I spent a bit of time looking at this week – Google+.  My study buddy and I defined Google+ for the course’s social media glossary, which can be found here, so I did quite a bit of reading and have to say that I’m actually pretty interested in how this application will fair once it hits the open market.  Currently it is being run on a trial basis and is not available for widespread use by the general public.

Currently I use facebook, which I believe is the closest application out there to Google+.  Google+ is being marketed as an alternative to facebook, which allows for more nuanced online social interactions and features a system through which you can divide your contacts into different groups, or “circles”, and communicate separately with each.  This means that you can send very personal messages to your best friends about your awful boyfriend and messages to your co-workers about the company’s next retreat.

There are of course many merits to being able to segregate information sharing, but personally I don’t use, or want to use facebook to connect deeply with the people I’m closest to.  If I want to have a real heart to heart with my best friend I’ll call her or meet up for coffee and a long chat.  I actually find facebook most useful as an inroad for connecting with people who I’m just getting to know.  I also use it for picture sharing and in place of email with closers friends, but only because doing so is convenient.  I don’t think I’d be that comfortable putting anything deeply personal on a social network site, even if I believe only close friends will be seeing it (just in case).  Essentially I’m happy with the more public form of communication available through facebook.  I don’t expect any social media application to truly be as nuanced as offline communication or enable me to communicate with everyone in my life in the different ways that I need to, so I’d prefer not to overcomplicate my relationships through social media use.  I suppose the usefulness of Google+ will depend very much on how you use online social networks, but all this categorizing, organizing and in some cases, ranking seems like a lot of unnecessary work to me.

To briefly foray into libraries, at a quick glance I can’t see this application being terribly useful to most library systems.  Libraries seem to use social media to disseminate information as widely as they can, so they have little need to segregate viewers into groups.  Even if the library did wish to provide different information to different users, I have no idea how they’d go about identifying who was interested in what.  That being said, I’m sure the system is much more complex than I’m making it out to be and the Google gods may have figured all of this out already. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

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