An introduction to Google Plus

Published date18 October 2011
Date18 October 2011
AuthorKatie Elson Anderson,Julie M. Still
Subject MatterLibrary & information science
An introduction to Google
Google officially introduced the
project on their blog on June
28, 2011. A selected number of users
received invitations for the field trial and
those users were given the opportunity
to invite other users. Shortly after the
release, Google put a halt to the invites,
leaving those with invites even unable to
login. While potential users anxiously
awaited for this new social network to be
reopened, those lucky enough to get a
look happily shared information and
opinions regarding Google’s new foray
into social networking. With the buzz
surrounding the release of this project,
many people were able to see and read
about the network before they even
logged in for the first time, creating even
more hype. Google
is now open to the
public. Anyone can sign up for itþ
The reasoning for the initial
exclusivity is that the product is still in
a beta stage. Googl e is reacting quite
quickly to the feedback of the early
adopters as the product continues to
change on a regular basis. The day the
project was opened to thepublic, several
modifications and enhancements were
also announced. The initial growth via
invites has been notable with reporting 20 million
users in the first 21 days. Initially
requiring invites, Google
can now be
joined by anyone, although users are
required to have or set up a Google
account. A Google account is any
account used to sign into a Google
product such as Gmail, Blogger or
YouTube. Creation of an account in a
Google product creates a Google profile,
which is necessary in order to join
. At present, the profile
information does not appear to transfer
from one Google productto another. For
example, information on a Blogger
profile is not automatically transferred
to the Google
profile and vice versa.
Google’s previous attempts at social
networking resulted in a lot of hype and
a giant fizzle for Google Wave and a
backlash against privacy issues with
Google Buzz. The Google
seeks to provide the potential that
Google Wave held with collaboration
and integration with Google Docs and
other Google services as well as address
the privacy issues that plagued Google
Buzz and continue to be controversial
issues with Facebook and other
social networking sites. As with all
social networking sites, the Google
project strives to provide users with
collaborate, create, and share. The
advantage that Google
has over other
social networking sites is that it the
shares, communicates with and
enhances already popular Google
services such as Google Chrome,
Google Reader, Google Calendar,
Google Documents, and Picasa. When
a user is logged into these Google
services on a desktop, a black toolbar
(Figure 1) now appears along the top of
the screen. This toolbar provides quick
access to these services as well as an
easy way to get to Google
The Google
elements are presented
Like most social media products,
allows those in the community
to create a profile introducing
themselves and giving a little (or a lot)
of personal information. Profile fields
include the standard fields such as
employment, places lived, relationship
status, education, and contact
information, but also allows for a free
form introduction and “bragging rights.”
Google, somewhat controversially, does
not allow people to set up accounts
under pseudonyms or nicknames, but
does have “nicknames” and “other
names” fields in the profile. Profile
owners can decide if their profile should
be visible or searchable. The profile
page provides easy access to one’s
photos, videos and items that have
been þ1’d (recommended by the user
by clicking on the þ1 button on a web
site or in a browser).
The premiere portion of Google
“what everyone is talking about” are the
circles, which allow for more privacy
when posting. While Facebook will
allow people to put their “friends” into
categories, Google
allows for a more
complete separation or segmentation.
Users put their contacts into “circles”
by user-created category (“ friends,”
“family,” “history department,”
“library board,” “ALA committee”
and so on). The names given to circles
are not publically available but naming
a circle “people I don’t like” may not be
advisable. Adding people to circles is a
unilateral action; permission of th e
other person is not required. Google
users get a message when they have
been added to a circle. They can
reciprocate by adding that person to
their circles, or not (Figure 2).
Posts can be sent to individual circles
or more than one at once. At present,
posts cannot be sent to anyone who is not
in the sender’s circles. Likewise,
information can be posted to individual
circles, groups of circles, or everyone.
This avoids the information overload
from people who post frequently or
about topics that are of limited interest.
Users can also be blocked.
Librarians can create niche brands
by assembling circles for various
aspects of their professional life.
Library Hi Tech News
Number 8 2011, pp. 7-10, qEmerald Group Publishing Limited, 0741-9058, DOI 10.1108/07419051111187842 7
An introduction to Google Plus
Katie Elson Anderson and Julie M. Still

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