17 July, 2011

The Google Plus Ripple

Google Plus
Though I am an avid Google admirer and user, being averse to 'Facebook' like social networking, I haven't had that much enthusiasm for Google's latest and, most probably, their hottest offering in years: Google Plus. Google+ has become so craved for and so popular, that all other social networking organizations are immensely disturbed and worried. Facebook, the largest and most used social networking platform, totally taken by surprise by its very unexpected rival's ingenuity and Google Plus's initial incredible success, has been so jolted, shaken and wobbling on the ropes, that they are taking very drastic measures against their new competitor. As for Twitter, like MySpace, apparently the game is over for them; unless they come up with big changes for their product.

Through the years, Google has tried repeatedly to muscle in to social media; and repeatedly they have failed: Orkut, Buzz, Wave and Friend Connect have all been tried by the search giant but without much success. And now, they have come up with: Google Plus. It seems, so far, to be doing incredibly well. People are going crazy over it; reviewers and critics are raving about it. Social networking media, in whatever form, is basically the same; but through tweaks and refining the service's 'options' here and there, Google seems to have created the best social networking platform, so far, in Google+. So good, that many tech and Net pundits are predicting that the new media will overtake and even retire most social networking services. Reading some of the raves about Google+, you are left wondering at how obsessed some are getting with this new Google product. Read this.

Life is so fast, so mechanical in most urbanized and 'developed' families, communities and societies  - that make communicating through the Net, the easiest, the best, most convenient, most useful and most widely accepted form of socializing. Social media, for most people who use them, also, gives most users the 'advantage' and 'freedom' of being detached and yet at the same time attached to others. In my family and circle of friends, it seems, I am the only one who is not hooked up to social networking. Apart from blogging once in a while and regularly using email, I have tried 'socializing' over the Net but have always lost interest, fast. I simply cannot be patient for long with the digital, mechanical, detached and frigid like 'messages', 'tweets' and chatters- most of which are trifle - that incessantly go on in social medias. Human communication is always full of what may seem trifle, but it is best, healthy and most comforting done on a face-to-face basis rather than digitally through screens. The Internet is wonderful and excellent for reading, researching and enlightening ourselves. In my family and circle of friends - more than any of them - I read much more from books and the Web on varying subjects; and write more.

Rather than social network, there are many other tools and resources on the Net and from Google, that I find truly excellent and yet few people use them or even know of them. Some services are so unknown by most, like Ushahidi or eBird or Gapminder and yet they are so refined and useful; incidentally, Ushahidi is very much like a social networking service and so is eBird. As from Google, take Google Earth for instance; it offers such an excellent, vast, informative service and yet - how many use it? And how many use these superb, useful Google services? Or these? As I write this, I have been wondering: before Google+ suddenly exploded, we had been hearing much about Diaspora; apart from increasing the heat and competition against Facebook and now Google+, how different or more useful will/can Diaspora be?

+ Google Blog on the Google+ Project
+ Read: Social networking leads to isolation, not more connections, say academics
+ Read: Social networking under fresh attack as tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US 
+ Read: 'Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other' By Sherry Turkle