Friday, July 01, 2011

Deconstructing Google+

Finally after months (if not years) of speculation Google has released a new social network named Google+, which has been primarily made with a view to rivaling Facebook's sky-rocketing popularity and re-instate Google as the undisputed boss of the internet.
Photo courtesy : mashable

Now irrespective of the fact that the term "Orkutiya" is now used on twitter to poke fun at hapless users with no sense of grammar or English, the fact remains that Orkut was one of the pioneers in the field of social networking (alongside MySpace and the rest). Then came Facebook. Then Twitter.
And Orkut was abandoned as users migrated to Facebook tempted by the prospect of a neater user interface, better privacy controls and a variety of (sometimes lameass) applications. Next (inane) flash games were introduced and people were hooked.
But only recently have people started to tire of Facebook due to a number of reasons and Google couldn't have chosen a better time to launch its competitor in the market.
Now let's pit Google+ and Facebook against each other and find the positives in Google's latest offering-

  • Before social networking only meant adding other people to your "friend's list'. It basically meant, a person once in your network, will be able to access all the information you post until and unless you tweak your privacy settings and hide stuff from a particular person. This was a hindrance no doubt. But thanks to Google+ none of that is needed now. You can now organize the people you add to your network as "Friends","Family" or "Co-workers" etc. You can conveniently put people in a group and share things exclusively with them. People in another circle do not need to know. Information concerning your circles is strictly yours. A member of a circle doesn't exactly know which circle he/she is a part of.
  • Once you post a status update or a comment in Facebook, it cannot be altered or edited. You need to delete and re-post if you have to correct a typo. But Google+ has included the very nifty option of editing both a post and a comment.
  • In terms of the chat feature, Facebook doesn't even come close to comparing with Google+ which comes with gtalk integration(same as Orkut). Personally I hated the FB chat because first of all, it would log me out often without permission and then it would lag considerably while transmitting messages at times. Gtalk, it goes without saying, is as smooth as smooth can be. Besides we have the additional Hangout feature(which I'm yet to try out) by which Google has no doubt tried to integrate a Skype-like gadget into Google+. It allows you to have a video chat or voice chat. Something which Facebook lacks. 
  • Sparks is yet another innovative feature which is missing from other social networking sites. Here you can find information regarding any subject of your choice right from the search bar itself and share it with others. Best thing is only you get to see the subjects of interest you have added. Although the stream of information available in Sparks may not always be the latest. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Google to refine this feature to perfection later on.
Click to enlarge

  • There's another extremely convenient option where all videos and pictures taken with your cellphone camera are automatically uploaded to a secure private album and you're free to make those public any time you want. You are free to enable or disable this option. I guess this is only available to people who will be using the Google+ mobile app.
  • Google+ notifications are just like the Facebook ones but here you get to respond to a comment merely from the notification bar itself. There's no need to visit the post or the necessary link to perform this action. This is again something Facebook doesn't have.
Coming to the cons, 
  • The first and foremost problem with Google+ is with photo privacy. I'm not particularly pleased with the option of having to share your Picasa albums publicly. Also settings don't enable us to really keep our pictures private that much.
  • Anybody, absolutely anybody, can add you to their circles and you wouldn't even know which circle you're being added to. At the most you can choose to block that person though, or adding that account to your "blocked" circle in Google+ jargon. A very twitter-ish feature in my opinion. Good and bad at the same time. 
  • Every post that you share with a circle or a group of a select few can be re-shared by anyone from that circle. That is unless you disable re-sharing of that particular post. There's no specific setting yet to disable re-sharing altogether. But Google has promised to refine the settings in the days to come.
  • There's nothing like a group or discussion forum which are both available in Orkut and Facebook. 
Apart from these things, Google+ seems good to go for now. What I like most about it is it allows you to keep a low-profile yet achieve your purpose of keeping in touch with others as well. It has generally steered clear of being too open in the same way as Facebook is, where you have a field to fill for every damn thing that goes in your life- relationships, work, education, recreational activities and whatnot. I guess this is what made Facebook such a hit with all netizens in the first place. But maybe that appeal too has ran its course.

Google+ provides you with the option of keeping things private as much as possible. Whereas the general tone of Facebook is one which goads you to be more open.

Despite the promising start, Google+ doesn't have enough to give Facebook some serious competition. Atleast not right now. Given for some users, the main attraction of Facebook is Farmville(and Yoville and Mafia Wars and so on).
But then again Google Plus has achieved its first goal, which is to grab the limelight and compel users to atleast spend more time exploring all its features.
Even Mark Zuckerberg couldn't resist getting a first-hand experience himself. So what are you waiting for?



Anish said...

Well agree with some parts-disagree with others.Orkut was launched on Jan 24,2004 and Facebook on Feb 4 2004.So almost simultaneously.Also Myspace was popular in America,Orkut in the Indian subcontinent and Brazil,but Facebook and Twitter are worldwide popular.
Coming to the pros and cons,the Circles feature here seems a lot like the following/followers feature of twitter and adding to circles like making lists on twitter.Also with respect to privacy FB has all the options but they are set to public by default which people need to change.
The Sparks is indeed a good feature and so is the editing posts/comments feature but apart from that it's too similar to Facebook/Twitter for my liking.Also it does not have the best feature Orkut/Facebook has-the communities/groups.

Overall if I had to choose between Google+ and Facebook I would choose Facebook for now.Twitter has no competition for google+ at all.Neither from Facebook.

Pulkit said...

You summed it up pretty well. Another nice feature is to mute posts, so that you won't receive notifications for any follow-up comments on any post, which makes Facebook annoying at times.

Personally, if they add the groups option, I'd like it much more than Facebook. And considering it's just Field Trial, that's probably gonna happen.

Prateek said...

FB has Cityville but G+ don't. :p

Samadrita said...

@Anish: Yes I didn't mention all the details. What I meant was Orkut was one of the initially popular social networking sites alongside Myspace and others. Both lost out on all their charms later on. Facebook may have been launched at that time, but it gained momentum later on. And right now Google+ doesn't have that much to rival Facebook but it has shown promise. Better than Wave or Buzz atleast. Now let's see what happens.

@Pulkit: Yeah the "hide posts" feature in Facebook didn't quite work. Muting posts is much better. I'm hoping for Google+ to disable photo-tagging or atleast seek permission from a user before a photo is being tagged with his/her name. This is one majorly annoying feature of Facebook.

Samadrita said...

@Prateek: Cityville addict! :P

D I B Y A said...

I feel Google is going to have the games feature as they have made several deals with online gaming companies in the past. There must be cooking something somewhere.
Coming to the most important point, Google+ can be FB killer though just a few hours ago I believed otherwise. Google+ is similar to facebook and that's why facebook faces the threat, not twitter. Like facebook was similar to Orkut still Orkut was popular(in India) for many years. Suddenly everyone migrated to facebook and forgot Orkut. Why? Because there is no point in sharing/doing same things on two similar platforms. It's just like, no one owns/uses both blogger and wordpress accounts

Vamsi K Mohan said...

I'd vote for twitter anytime as the best social networking concept. I personally feel the term social goes more with real time info. And twitter supports that best. Anyways we are talking about googleplus here. This is an informative post. Thanks to this post, I guess the page rank of ur blog might increase a lot :P coz I presume that 'google plus' should be the most searched keyword in the moment :D

sush said...

all i would say is, "interesting write up" that i enjoyed reading:-)
catch me on sushmaspage on blogspot

Bikramjit said...

another portal to waste time now :) people spend so much time on facebook now this comes up he he he he :) ooops did i say something wrong :)


Giribala said...

Thanks for the info!I will wait and watch :-)

Ketan said...

Though, have not yet experienced Google+, your review is really good. Makes me more 'aspirational' about Google+ and less 'dissy'. :D Personally, I never really liked fb much. As you might know, am hooked to twitter. :)

wisewit said...

Sounds interesting, but probably not my kind of thing--at least, not for now. Truth is I don't even really put enough of my time into Blogger right now. :(


Selenium said...

I liked google+
I just hope they fix all the minor issues so that I feel confident enough to try it. Social networking isn't my domain... -___-

Nethra said...

I hope that citiville, farmville thing wont come on google+ too. I'm liking it too but not many there yet. I still like twitter more.

Meera Sundararajan said...

This is a very informative post for someone like me who is just discovering FB. Thanks

CooperJal said...

Very useful blog.

Avada Kedavra said...

Orkut and FB were launched in the same year. It was just that Orkut was more famous in India, while in US and abroad people preferred FB. I have a feeling FB is going to stay :)

rahul aggarwal said...

i guess google plus is in and is going to stay.....facebook will surely look for covers!!!

google rulez!!!


Priyanka said...

Good post this:) Very comprehensive.

But for me, FB remains awesome until and unless G+ has something amazingly different to offer.

Plus G+ irks me because my circles are so small *pout* Have to wait till everyone gets on board for it to actually become a 'social networking' platform.

☆ ayu☆ said...

wow..i didnt know this..o.0

Rinaya said...

Am more worried about the additional work involved when someone asks me to 'share' a post..+1,Like,Tweet n all dat..
Orkut ws good up to sometime until all the spamming happened.FB chat is really bad indeed,agre whole heartedly,haven't tried the new chat with Skype integration yet..and still in the process of discovering Google+.The photo privacy settings or rather the lack of it is a nuisance indeed!

Giribala said...


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