Not Dead Yet? Google+ Tries Again
Google still wants to be a social network player, despite the four-year floundering of its mercurial entry, Google+. The latest reincarnation of Google+ is rolling out now. Google is touting it as faster, simpler, and more relevant to what Google+ users have said they want. But that doesn’t mean it’s what normal people want. Find out what's new, and see if it's for you...
The New, Streamlined Google+
The original Google+ tried to roll all Google products - Gmail, YouTube, Hangouts, Picasa, Google News, etc. - into one hub around which users’ lives would revolve. The result was complicated, confusing, and unwieldy. It also alarmed users, many of whom felt Google+ was a corral into which they were being herded for advertisers to pick off at leisure.
Google didn’t help by requiring users to create Google+ accounts in order to comment on YouTube videos, or by automatically creating a Google+ account for every new Gmail address, or by insisting, a’ la Facebook, on “real names” for Google+ profiles.
Those requirement are gone now; pseudonyms are allowed on Google+, and a Google+ account is no longer required to use most Google services. Also gone are YouTube, Hangouts, and Picasa (now Google Photos), although one can still pull content from those services into one’s Google+ posts. The new Google+ is a slimmed-down, standalone product.
What’s left are two services: Google+ Communities and Collections. Both are, essentially, message forums; the chief difference is who can start a new topic with a new post. In a Community of, say, “moms who blog,” any member can create a new post (or start a new topic, if you prefer). Only the owner/creator of a Collection can create a new post. Anyone can comment on a post in a Community or Collection.
Well, not just anyone, necessarily. Communities or Collections can be wide-open to the general Google+ public, or restricted by their owner/creators to certain users. The owner/creator of a Community can admit and expel members, delete posts, and appoint moderators to whom these powers can be delegated.
Diving Into Communities and Collections
I was confused initially by the distinctions between Communities and Collections. Here's what you need to keep in mind: In a Community, any member can post a message that kicks off a thread of comments (hopefully). In a Collection, only the owner can post a message but others can comment on it.
That’s the essence of the new Google+. The Help files go into greater detail about how to create posts, control who can see what on your profile page (“newsfeed,” in Facebook parlance), and how you can filter the torrent of posts that might otherwise flood your profile page.
The search box at the top of every Google+ page will help you discover people, Communities, and Collections that match your interests. But until Google+ gains more traction, the results may be disappointing. Even when you find something that looks interesting, it may turn out to be an abandoned page. Google+ is not exactly a “ghost town,” but more like a scattering of survivors surrounded by a sea of zombies. You may do a lot of fruitless clicking before finding an active Community or Collection.
It’s interesting to note that Facebook and Google+ have started from opposite ends of a spectrum and passed each other going in opposite directions. Facebook began as a relatively simple message forum and added features, while Google+ began with every feature and is now streamlining for the sake of simplicity.
If you found Google+ confusing at first, take it for another spin and see if there's a group of like-minded people with whom you can learn and share. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 2 Dec 2015
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