Will Google Plus let me hangout with Halle Berry?


I like Google+

I like any service that uses special characters in its name.

That's why I loved Yahoo! so much. It was exciting. But that was 30 years ago, and a lot has happened since then.

I'm definitely using Google+. I haven't been as heavy a user as I normally am with new services because I'm finishing my book writing in the next week, and I've found that using Google+ is highly negatively correlated with getting important things done.

I can't switch to it from Facebook, because only tech geeks are using it. I like diversity in my online life, and without my real friends, Google+ is just a cool experiment, but I think the service has great potential.

I'm looking forward to having another option in the social networking space because I think competition is lovely. These services need to compete for my attention. If I had children, I would make them compete with each other for my affection. It would make them better kids, and the winner would get my complete love. That's exactly what the Facebook vs. Google+ dynamic should be like.

Much of what I have noticed. I like.

Circles.

Facebook ruined the term "friend" forever by a) by making it a verb (real friends don't "friend") and b) by throwing every possible human connection, whether colleague, object of lust or creepy-kid-from-high-school-who-still-eats-paste, into the "friend" category. With friends like Facebook friends, who needs actual friends?

Twitter turned everyone into stalkers by categorizing its connections as "followers." I met a woman at a bar recently, and she was so excited. "Are you Baratunde? Hey! I'm following you!" Not cool.

Google+ gets it right by letting you put people in circles and hiding the name of the circle from the encircled people. Figuring out how to manage your circles and how many to have can be labor-intensive, but letting you share posts on a circle-by-circle basis becomes quite useful. Mostly I look forward to the Day Of Awkwardness, when people's circle names get leaked, and you find out that person you think is a good friend put you in the "People Who Think They Are My Friends" circle.

Stray thoughts on Circles:



  • I was chatting with Bill Cammack, and we decided G+ needs to let circles be concentric. There's a manual way to do this, but it gets labor intensive over time. I want the "Co-Worker" circle to always be a subset of the "People To Ignore" circle. Besides, sometimes you love circles so much, you want to put a circle in your circle!

  • What happens when you cut a connection to someone in Google+? Is that "uncircling," or "decircling" or what? Leo Laporte suggested "circumcising." I like that best.


Notifications.

I like the black Google bar across all my Google services. It's like a little reminder from Google that says, "Hey, don't forget about us. We know where you are. We know what you're doing. Also, you have five new notifications."

The way those notifications are presented is genius. I click a button, and my notifications pop down, and I can navigate all of them, and even respond to comment threads, all by paging through the notifications right there. I never have to leave my original page. It makes engaging in distractions much more efficient.

The "hangout" feature is the most impressive.

Not everyone is good at socializing. Some people go their entire lives without properly executing a hangout. Google+ solves this with a green button labeled "Start a hangout." It's quite simple!

When you fire it up, you can start a video chat with up to nine other people. The app just asks you to type in what circles or individuals you want to hang out with. I typed in "Halle Berry" because I really want to hangout with Halle Berry. She hasn't showed up yet, but Google+ is still in beta, so that probably explains it.


I did manage to do a full hangout with Scott Hanselman and seven others. I like the way the main video image tracks who's talking the most, and everyone else is relegated to a row of video thumbnails underneath. It reflects real life. When I'm hanging out with my friends (Hangout 1.0), the friend who is talking loudest becomes physically 50 times larger than the rest of us. It's terrifying, but that's just the way it goes.

I think they should call the main video spot, "The Conch" because then I could say, "I have the conch!" and it would work. In Scott's hangout, the eight of us who didn't have the conch did a cool thing. We did the wave! Yes, we did a Google Wave inside of Google Plus. We live in amazing times.

The Stream (aka your home feed) is an interesting place. If you don't manage your circles appropriately, your stream can become dominated by a single, prolific voice. I posted about how to solve this with respect to a specific user, and someone noted that they were getting inundated by my own posts. That was a dark moment, for in it, I realized that I am become Scoble, the destroyer of feeds.

Finally, I like Sparks, mostly because they are called Sparks and I'm a huge fan of fire, always have been. Also, there was that rapper Bubba Sparxxx.

Apparently, he's releasing an album soon. Maybe we can hangout. That would be swell. Me, Halle Berry and Bubba Sparxxx in a Google+ hangout. FTW.

Biggest downside to Google+? No hashtags.

Biggest anticipated feature: the 3,000 word magazine piece on how black people use Google+

You can find my Google+ profile at http://gplus.to/baratunde. If you're a G+ user, circle me, so we can hangout and start some sparks or something. If you're not a member, well, why did you read this far?