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.