Google rolled out its Beta for its new social network, Google+, this week. I wasn't paying attention, and made a joke about being snubbed for not getting an invite to try it out. After all, I do host the legendary Google Buzz Tournies so I should be an obvious choice to try it out. Next thing I know one of my followers hooks me up with an invite and I'm in there like swimwear.
This thing is freaking slick.
OK, there's going to be a ton of comparisons to Facebook, so let's just jump on those right now. First up: networking. One of the things that I don't like about Facebook is the Friending thing. "Friend me!" "We're friends!" "Friend this person!" And then there's there's the always awkward "Well, why didn't you friend your Aunt Harriet?" There's people who make multiple Facebook accounts just for the sake of information sequestration. Because some people do want their family members to be on their Facebook so they can all keep in touch, but they want to share the pictures of that awesome night in Vegas with their buddies and those pictures at the nudie bar aren't quite appropriate for Grandma or little cousin Timmy. Google+ has got that all figured out with their Circles. You have multiple Circles for however you want to categorize and sort your contacts. You can have a Circle for family members, a Circle for Friends, and a Circle for people you know but aren't really tight with. I created a Circle for my buddies on there that I talk comics and other fun geeky stuff with. You can check out the feeds for just specific Circles to make information sorting a breeze as well as just share certain posts with specific Circles. You can also put people in multiple Circles, so if you create a Circle for your specific interests, and you have one contact on there that shares a couple of your interests, you can put them in both circles. This way you can can post stuff for your family without your friends all jumping in there, and put up a post about that great night at the bar without a disapproving comment from your mom. And the great part is that they don't know what Circle you put them in. That's your business not theirs. We did find out that you can only get 5000 people in one Circle. So I guess nothing's perfect.
Something really awesome for G+ (As wee cool kids call it) is the picture sharing. Its a little slow on the upload, but it more than makes up for it in picture quality. That and the unlimited space for pictures. Makes me want to post a ton of artwork. My buddy, Cass, on there is a photographer and he's loving this.
This is Google, and Google is all about information, so they have Sparks. These are your interests, and G+ will give you a feed of news stories related to your interests which you can share with your circles with just a couple of clicks.
Something I haven't tried out is Hangouts in which up to ten people can have a video chat using their webcams. People that have tried it called it "Skype without all the numbers". Then someone took it to the next level. He created an open hangout for anyone to join in. A Chinese fella hopped on and kind of lurked. It was obvious he didn't speak English. The guy who started the hangout, brought up Google Translate, typed in part of the conversation and hit the "Listen" button. Google did its thing and then with a little bit of lag the Chinese guy was in on the conversation. It translated the text and his speakers piped it out in mandarin loud and clear. His microphone picked it up and bingo. Now, that is some exciting stuff. Keep in mind, G+ is still in Beta testing. Someone does something like this, and its going to get noticed.
Facebook does have something that G+ doesn't, and that's games. So, no Farmville for you if you go on there. That may change later. Its hard to tell at this point. Right now though it is really nice to be on there and not see in my info stream that someone reached a new level in whatever game they're playing, or get a bunch of invites to game I don't care about, or get virtual farm equipment, or whatever. I'm quite happy with that.
Here's the bottom line: Google+ let's you share what you want to share with who you want to share it with. And its does it in a nice and easy manner. I don't know if it'll be a "Facebook Killer" because I don't see a casual internet user who just wants to keep in touch with a few people and play Angry Birds jumping on this, but if you want good, clean, and slick social networking, this is definitely the way to go.
See this book? It is, as I type this, the number one seller on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.com. Held that spot for a few days now. Here's the kicker: it doesn't exist. Yet. The cover was created by a fan of the writer. The book is still being worked on, and is due out next spring. The writer, John Greene, has a very strong following not only from being a best selling author but from producing videos thrice weekly with his brother on a variety of subjects.
He's got a large and fiercely loyal following to the point that upon announcing finally deciding upon a title for his new novel and stating that he would personally sign every pre-order copy of the first edition, this thing shot out of no where and straight to number one. Now that, my friends, is one helluva good trick. He's understandably thrilled about it. His brother is quite thrilled to the point of humping half the inanimate objects in town, which he then uploaded the evidence of said humping to YouTube. I'd link to this video, but its more than a little too much humping of inanimate objects than I am comfortable with.
Moral of the story: the internet is indeed a powerful thing. I have a modest following online, but its one I do greatly appreciate. Were I to announce that I am releasing a graphic novel of my comics, that following would generate a few sales. Nothing on the scale that John Greene has accomplished, but that's how things work now. There has to be a presence that your fanbase can interact with. The Greene brothers have it with their fanbase, the Nerdfighters, and that fanbase is completely down with mobilizing to support each other and Greene boys' endeavors. I'm not quite jealous, but more than a little in awe.
John Greene did not forget to be awesome.
YouTube is having a competition called Next Up. The winner get basically everything they'll need to really become the next big thing on YouTube: funding, training, profession equipment. Well, guess who got through...
Yep, that's our pal Lee running a victory lap through his house. He's a great guy. I like him. I like the videos he makes. He showed off a picture I drew. He's the kind of guy that really should win this thing. So please, go to his page, find the link in the video description to take you to where you can vote for him and do so. You can vote once per day, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Going with some Counting Crows this time around, and you might be thinking that its because I've have a pretty miserable week with being sick and still having to suck it up and go to work, so I'm going to play some soulful woe-is-dudes tune.
Screw that, time to rock.
That's everything from me today. No thoughts from last night's UFC because I'm still feeling lousy and needed some rest. I heard it was some great fights though. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend. Have a fun and safe Fourth of July. See y'all Wednesday.