This is why I just love Google+

Just the other day I re-shared a post from Tim O’Reilly. The post itself has (to date) had 283 comments and been +1’d 1482 times and been re-shared 728 times. If, like me, the person re-sharing the post has made a comment which indicates their slant on the original post that means the ecosystem of engagement and the range of views expressed is immense – I’m not skilled enough to garner those posts and analyse them but I do know they’re all recorded in one place, so you could search them out.

What I do know is that this level of engagement and the depth of comment that can be engendered on Google+ would not have happened on twitter – where the best one might have hoped to have achieved would have been a reference to a blog post you’d written with the comments (if any) stored on a myriad of blogs all over the place; and would not have happened at all on Facebook – where I’ve never observed any serious commentary occurring.

There’s really quality engagement and conversation taking place on Google+. I commend it to you!

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Review of Google+ posts

Thought it about time I got together a few links relating to Google+

I like reading O’Reilly Radar – posts here have a modicum of authority. They’re written well and don’t suffer from tech media hyperbole. So the post “Google+ is the social backbone” is worth reading; it highlights the fact that the Google+ will not be a walled garden, it trumpets the need for Google to champion “openness” more than it already does and declares the need for the G+ API (now being rolled-out). It clearly states that facebook does not have the platform, infrastructure or desire to provide a social backbone.

Mashable and Pete Cashmore is always a good resource for Tech Media stories. It tends to be more reasonable in its approach to technology developments and is never scared to go back and review its posts. Their 40 Essential Google+ Resources is an early list to take a look at. I’m waiting awhile before I start changing the ‘vanilla’ G+ extension (as I’ve written in a G+ post) but with the API now launched I look forward to increasingly better (and safer) ways of integrating my social networks.

I encountered Luis Suarez during my encounter with IBM software, he’s a refreshing antedote to the Lotus Notes fraternity I always felt. He’s a passionate advocate for social software and the use of collaboration tools. So when he says that Google+ could be a threat to email – I’m all ears. This is what I immediately thought, and nothing has happened since to change my views. It’s not only a threat but actually facilitates the transition to social software by allowing easy out-posting from the social software environment to email – it’s sort of a transition by stealth. There’s more to this post than just this however, you should read it all to see a strategic framework for social software emerging. It complements the O’Reily Radar post very nicely.

You’re interested in Privacy and Information Control of course, here is the guide that takes you through how to post, how to construct Circles and what to watch out for. It also covers the features to prevent re-sharing of posts thus preventing leakage outside the Circle you posted to as well as a few tips as to how you should set your Profile page up.

Two posts that challenge the new orthodoxy of using real names on Google+ and Facebook comes from Danah Boyd and Alexis Madrigal. These are both interesting points and I have a lot of time for the idea that, for some people, there are strong reasons for protecting your real identity online. I’m neutral on this one. I’m happy using my real identity but of course I haven’t got a “Thought grazing” identity on Google+. In one sense this doesn’t matter as I can use Circles appropriately and if necessary, and in any case the context of the post in G+ is much easier to explain when you don’t have a 140 character limit to restrict you. I just love the work @amcunningham has done on Privacy and Identity in the Medical Profession and the whole area of context, professionalism and identity is one that’s very close to my heart. However, perhaps being close to Higher Education is a privilidged position to be in. There is a need for whistle blowers and of course activists who would otherwise be persecuted, so a Real Names Policy does need to be tempered by a dose of reality and public interest as well.

The next one is a post from Tom Anderson (founder of MySpace). He writes “How Google+ will succeed and why you’ll use it whether you want to or not“. There’s so much in this post but the one I’ll concentrate on is that he reminds us that Google own Search, they have arguably the best email platform in the cloud, they own a decent (though not the best) blogging platform – blogger, and then of course there’s YouTube and Picasa Web. With so much integration possible, with the much heralded integration with Google Apps (and Google+ for the Enterprise) to come, this platform is going to succeed. You just know it is, even though you were puzzled about Wave and Buzz.

Finally, and now in G+ I find a platform that allows me to read his work and comment upon it occasionally as I have with Paul Allen as well, I come to Robert Scoble. He’s always been on my Google Reader Feeds, but did I get round to reading what he wrote? Unfortunately not. Now I find someone who’s actively and entusiastically moving, shaping and forming a community of users and it’s just great to read what he writes as well as the comments that follow. He’s said that he never got so much worthwhile inter-action with his traditional blogging, or with twitter, and I can agree with that. You use G+ to work up ideas and then do the blog post, or whatever. In “Help, I’ve fallen into a pit of steaming Google+ (what that means for tech blogging)” he describes (eclectically) why he’s in love with Google+. I must say I share a lot of his feelings. Google+ is definitely the best thing that’s happened to social networking yet!

[However he’s not totally blind to the issues relating to content being held by Google – a very recent post (after I’d completed and published this by about 10mins) is interesting in that it foresees the need for legislation to control Google at some time in the future.]

For the future, I wait for diaspora and see what that will bring. I’m promised an invitation in October … I’ll give you my thoughts on it as soon as I can! [UPDATE: Thanks @m1ke_ellis – will be investigating later but like the open source credentials.]

How Facebook threatens “the social network” [UPDATED]

It won’t have gone un-noticed to any readers of this blog that I’ve been quite impressed at Google+ – what it can do, and more important what it could be possible of doing to our use of social networks. I’m particularly impressed at the implied movement away from the “social graph” to what has been described as the “interest graph” and the focus on task-related posting rather than people-focussed posting. In fact the demise of Google+ which has been trumpeted by the tech media press is almost certainly the result of posts disappearing from the “public stream” with more selective posting to Circles. A success story therefore you might argue for anyone who values their privacy.

Copying is said to be an indication of success too, and we’ve seen a “re-launch” of Posterous, trumpeting a feature that was always there which looks very similar to Circles, and of course there’s been the changes to Facebook. These have been thick and fast over the past few weeks, culminating in the announcements last week. First of all, I have to hold my hand-up … I’m not a great, nor active, Facebook user. It’s just too complicated to get the privacy controls correct, and as they keep on changing things, there’s just that nagging doubt always present in my mind that I might inadvertently be sharing something with people I don’t want to share with. So what goes on Facebook (from me) is generally of little interest to my “followers”, or it is factual and not likely to cause me any concern. But all that’s just changed because Facebook wants to change “the social network”, hold even more information about you – which you can’t get out without deleting your account, and wants to share that information with even more people that you don’t want to share it with.

Every time Facebook changes the timeline, or your profile, or whatever, a groundswell of complaint can be heard “from those in the know”. Of course Facebook probably doesn’t care about them (us) anyway – they’re more interested in the information they’ve trapped inside the Facebook firewall provided by the far greater number of users who don’t know, or who prefer not to know, what they’re doing. However, this time there’s been an up-welling of comment that beats most previous announcements and I thought I’d share some of that comment with you.

First of all take a look at the summary of features listed here. [If you want a sickening few minutes (you won’t want to stay to the end) watch the video of Mark Zuckerburg’s launch address.] “Is Facebook trying to kill privacy” – well yes it is, and this is seen by their view that “the social graph” should be open, so that everything you do can be made visible to just about anyone – read a review from Wired here. All those apps that you’ve allowed access to your Facebook profile, well now they will be following you, and what you do, even though you’ve not given them permission to do so – read Phil Bradley’s excellent post here, and as he and others have commented – it’s shameful that The Guardian has signed-up to this invasion of our private lives, and I’ll be even more worried if The Independent follows suit.

Two more links I ought to share with you as well are this one, detailing how the social reading apps will work, and this one which gives very wise advice – never leave your browser logged into Facebook, the cookies may be tracking everything you do.

[UPDATE: The storm doesn’t seem to be abating – @briankelly this morning (26/09/2011) tackles some of us who were tweeting that Fb is a walled garden with a riposte that suggests Russell Group (and presumably all Universities) can not afford to ignore it as there are so many fans using Fb Groups and suggests its not a walled garden anyway. However, my doubts are beginning to firm up even more and you ought to read “Facebook’s New Features Might Not Be as Private as You Think” and some of the comments that follow to help you come to your own conclusions.]

So … I’ll be reviewing my applications on Facebook again. I won’t be taking any of the new features and if I’m forced to change I’ll be deleting my account. My “followers” will always be able to find me on Google+ where I can then decide whether I want to follow them, or more importantly, post updates to them. I suspect The Force will remain undisturbed by any actions I take!