Google Plus – Initial thoughts

I’ve been using google+ for a little over a week now. In general, I feel positive about it. I feel it’s worth my time to learn how to use it more effectively. I know I’ve generated about four times the traffic to this site from g+ in the last week than I have in a few months of crossposting to facebook.

The best thing g+ has going for it, IMHO, is the signal to noise ratio. It’s far and away the best SNR of any of the social sites I use. This may say more about where I hang out online than the g+ community, but there you have it. I think the circle model is well thought out and executed. I found it easy to find posts relevant to my interests and to communicate with the author of said posts.

The first real drawback is information overload. I’ve accepted several large circles I saw advertised, and frankly I think I’m subscribed to too many people. This is mostly my own fault, and I’m sure as I use it more I’ll be able to reduce the bandwidth to a level more congruent with my ability to keep up. For now, though, while I try to orient myself and carve out my own little niche, I feel bombarded. If history is any guide, as I learn to recognize specific users and get a feel for the culture I won’t be so frustrated.

Secondly, the circle model is intuitive but the page/circle/following/hashtag dynamic isn’t. I need to find a concise explanation of the difference between a circle community and a page community, and how to relate to each of them. There seems to be no small amount of overlap, which insinuates there is a design flaw in the way they are executed. Again, as a noob, I may not be qualified to pontificate too much on that point. There are hundreds of hashtags being thrown around. I have yet to find a good way to search them, though I did find Ray Bilcliff’s list of daily hashtags. This list, unfortunately, has no date and seems to be statically generated.

Probably my biggest gripe with g+ is that, according to my googlefu, there is no way to retrieve a list of posts that I have +1′d. This is especially painful to me because of the bandwidth issues mentioned above. Every time I visit g+, I see posts by users that I want to explore further. If I follow the users and posts, I lose my place in the stream (going back through browser history reloads the stream). If I don’t follow the post, I’ll lose it in the stream and likely never find it again. IF there was a way to see what I’ve +1′d, I could both come to grips with my stream (by identifying trends in users, hashtags, circles, pages, etc) and feel more confident plowing through more posts more often. As a bonus, it would be nice to expose my +1′s via API so I could automagically update my blog.

There is a lot of fantastic photography being shared at g+, and google makes it easy to share photos. Unlike another social site (which shall remain nameless but was founded by a guy with the initials Mark Zuckerberg) google doesn’t smash my files down to ridiculously small sizes causing details and colors to get compressed out of existence, have a barely-if-at-all workable upload interface and organizing system, and seems to have a tagging/permissions/insert interface that isn’t frustratingly byzantine. Google+ wins a first round KO in the image sharing arena, no question. They take a bruising with the black bar fillers on either side of the image previews in the stream, though. Those are awfully annoying and entirely without meaningful rational. The filler around images to make them fit in their div should be the same color as the page background.

All things considered I like google+ and will no doubt continue to shift towards it as my primary network. It’s far from perfect, but better suited for my needs than any of the other networks.