Google+

Google+

Friend or Foe?

I use google as a verb (a regular one of course). Google is great for quick answers and links. I can be googling whilst texting/chatting/tweeting and look like I know what I am talking about having searched for whatever the other person has mentioned. I have googled where the hash tag is on my Macbook (alt + 3 in case you were wondering), I have googled what hash tags are come to mention it. I use GoogleDocs with colleagues to work on documents together and can see it has infinite possibilities for collaborative work in the classroom. I was therefore keen to dabble with Google+.

I got my invite before the end of the summer term thanks to @spanishsam but it took me a few days to dive into it. Unless I’m doing flat pack furniture or Lego, when I thoroughly enjoy fastidiously following directions to the letter (or rather image), I like to run before I can walk. I have not found I can do this with Google+.

The general consensus still seems to be that it is a lonely place at present. I wish I could remember who tweeted that it is like a party that has run out of alcohol and everybody is just stood around in the kitchen. I can see where it fits in though. I got bored of Facebook a long time ago. There are only so many ex school ‘friends’ you can add and certainly a number of people I have on there tend to offload all the time (they will not be reading this as they do not know that I blog). I love Twitter, I really do. @bootleian said to me that Twitter is the friends you wish you had had at school. That is certainly true. I have a Personal Learning Network (PLN) of switched on, smart, funny, intelligent people who want to share and, more importantly, learn from each other. And so Google+ threw up it’s first problem. My PLN of Tweeps are using their real names on Google+, and often a photograph. Gone are the @ names and quirky avatars. I think it is going to take a while to build up my Circles on here.

I am not sure if Google+ will be the next big thing, or just an add-on to existing social networking tools, but it certainly has some good features when you scratch beneath the surface.

So for any of you that are still novices here is whatI have learnt so far:

Invites

There are plenty of Tweeps out there you follow who will invite you so just ask. Once you’re on all sorts of weird and wonderful people will start adding you to circles. Google+ likes to make at least 100 suggestions for people for you to add at any given time.

Logging in

Simple thing first – how you log in to this is really is not that obvious. You need to go to www.google.com and log in to your normal Google account. When you have Google+ appears as the first tab with your name: +[name]

Changing primary email address

Google+ need to sort this out. I created my Google Docs account a while ago, under a different email account to the one I primarily use today. I want to change this but cannot find a way to do it. I contacted Google+ but they did not reply. Strike One.

This also complicates things when you want to add a new person and search for them by email rather than name. Obviously you would need the email address linked to the account.

Account settings

These are to the right where your name and avatar are on the main screen – again it took me a while to first locate these. You may want to make sure you are not getting bombarded with notification.

Circles

To set up circles you simply find people then drag them kicking and screaming into your circles of doom… Or maybe I am being melodramatic? It is the school holidays after all and I need to amuse myself.

On your profile page make sure you have used the ‘view profile as’ link as it allows you to see how others (in circles or on the web) see your profile.

You can watch the official quick guide to Google+ on Youtube.

Privacy Settings

This is an area best left to the individual but do read the options carefully and ensure you are aware what you are sharing.

You can change your settings so that people cannot see which circles you have added others too – you don’t want to offend the person you put in Acquaintances instead of Friends now do you? You can even hide entire circles – I have hidden my Family one. I invited my mum to join me on there and although reluctant over security issues she dived in. It may be worth remembering the gmail hacking scam here and you will see where she was coming from:

Gmail hacking

I know however that my mother does not want random people to add her or see what I am posting to her.

Posts

When you make your first post you will get a rather patronising ‘Nice post’ comment back from Google+. On the whole however the comments when you are first carry out an action are quite helpful. Once you have made a post you still have the option to edit, disable comment and reshare. From there on it works pretty much like Facebook and the +1 option is similar to the Facebook ‘like’ button.

Apps

I waited patiently for the ipod/iphone app to be released as viewing Google+ on the mobile web on my ipod touch really did not support the full functions of Google+. I finally downloaded it last week, having lost interest in Google+ for a while. You can get it here It makes it easier for me to check what is going on, especially as I’m now using the same device I do my other social networking on. I rarely use my desktop for that. The Android app has been available for a while here

I found this clip before the iOS app was available but it is still of use:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJlKcmC3cdc&feature=fvsr

Huddles

On my app I had a notification that I was included in a ‘huddle’. I am still not quite sure what a huddle is and as I did not start it I am unsure how many people can see me ‘huddle’ but I joined in anyway. I am sure it is just a more intimate conversation – an inner circle maybe. I cannot find any huddles when I log on on my desktop either. If you know why not please do tell.

Location

Today I discovered (just in time) that if I shared my location using the iPhone app it would actually share my road. I really do not want that to be made public so changed it to the city location option. When I looked at what was streaming nearby I was taken aback by the public posts from various roads in the city. It wouldn’t take much to find out what number people lived at if you wanted to. I don’t mind sharing when I am out and about but my home? That is staying private, all the more so as I am a teacher.

Sparks

A quick mention to this option as it lets you follow streams about specific areas of interest. This is useful for teachers as it filters in the same way a hashtag does.

Finally…

Tweetdeck let’s me make multiple posts. Websites let me share on Twitter and Facebook, or bookmark things – when will this happen with Goggle+? I don’t want to cut and paste my 140 characters, or a web link, because there is not a simple link button. I am sure that these are issues that are being worked on by the Google team. Either that or I need to stop using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and just Google+ it. Or maybe not.

For further information on Google+ it is worth looking at Crunchbase. It calls itself ‘a free database of technology companies, people and investors that anybody can edit’. You could call it a wikipedia for techno geeks 🙂

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