Through A Google+, Darkly

It’s Saturday morning. I’m sitting in a coffeeshop in San Francisco waiting for clean laundry, including a new-to-me jacket I bought yesterday. A jacket to dispel the summer cold that has once again descended upon San Francisco. While I wait, I’m finally starting to play around with Google+, with high hopes that it will likewise dispel a similar cold that has fallen across the internet of late…the cold, bleak specter that is Facebook. I will spare you my usual rant here, except to say I am more than concerned that our social fabric is being re-woven by a gaggle of white, privileged, twenty-somethings more preoccupied with profit than the privacy (or security) of their user base. Frankly, this is a political issue that must be addressed, and soon–an argument that Carne Ross so eloquently makes in her recent post on Alternet.org. (Also, please consult Danah Boyd’s required reading on privacy in the age of social media straightaway.)

Of course, as Ross points out, putting all of my hopes in Google is quite naive…believe me, I’m aware of the irony. But still, I can’t escape all of the benefit that Google has delivered in it’s quest to index the world’s information. A noble goal if there ever were one. “Don’t be evil,” remember? For me, Google+ shines as a glimmer of hope for the regained control of online identities we have so diligently created and readily handed off to corporate caretakers. And today, I hold that glimmer of hope in my lap, staring at it intensely, waiting for it to illuminate a new, just path for online identity and the social web.

Alas, I look through a Google+, darkly. As a Google Apps user–I have managed noveltimes.com through Google Apps since 2007–I am a second class Google+ user. You see, Google Profiles are not available to Apps Users, and Google+ is keyed to Profiles. The lack of Profiles support for Apps is an issue well documented in the Google support forums. And Google tells us that Profiles for Apps is coming soon, but “soon” can be an eternity in the era of social media.

Despite this hurdle, I have found my way on to Google+ through the Gmail account associated with my Google Profile. However, since much of the power of Google+ results from building a social experience on top of the wide assortment of Google services employed by the average user (think Gmail, Gcal, Picasa, Blogger, Maps, +1, etc., etc., etc.), this new social network will indeed seem dark. For the time being, I’ll play along at home, gingerly, so as not to invest too much time, effort and content in what may turn out to be a temporary Google+ profile. Here’s my profile if you want to say hello, but don’t get too attached, I may not be around very long. And I guess that’s the whole point. With the present state of social media, you can never guarantee control over your online identity. Let’s hope that Google+ comes a step closer.

6 thoughts on “Through A Google+, Darkly

  1. Hey LSG! I’m wondering where you are at with Google+ 6 months later. I fiddled around with it briefly, but wen I failed to perform basic functions intuitively and no one I new wanted to take on another social platform, it was relegated to my app graveyard.
    Are you seeing something different in the world of politics? Has it taken off for some and been left behind for others?
    PS – you were right, I should’ve voted.

    • Hey Jen! Thanks for saying hey! So I’m finally on Google+ now that they’ved turned on profiles for Google Apps (probably should update this blog post with that tidbit). Generally I like the platform and the interface, but it’s kind of quiet. Seems like most of the folks that are active are either technorati or Google employees. I’m trying to post more, but it’s not going to be really engaging until more folks get involved, and even then, it’s yet another channel to check.

      As for where G+ is heading, I’ve been reading some interesting stuff about how Google+ may start to skew search results. And it seems like the user base has recently been growing at quite a clip, so things may pick up, especially with the strong position of Android. In the end, though, I don’t see Google+ as a closed social network like Facebook or Tumblr, but more as a social layer that is being built into Google services. Which has a ton of potential considering how many people use those services. I also have a suspicion that we’ve only seen the tip of the social iceberg that Google has planned. Should be interesting!

      I tell you, though, Tumblr is the social network I just don’t understand. It’s like the wild west or something. Or a mashup of Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. Crazy.

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