Google+ bursts forth onto the online social networking scene
July 18, 2011
by Mark Ollig

It was predicated 20 million users would be interacting over this new Internet social networking site by July 17.

This impressive statistic from Paul Allen, founder of the popular genealogy website Ancestry.com, was posted by him on this new social networking site.

“The user base is growing so quickly that it is challenging for me to keep up,” Allen said.

Many folks out there in the cyber blogospheres and throughout the twitterverse are saying this new social networking site may well become a legitimate competitor to Facebook’s dominance.

The leading online search engine, Google has put forth their latest effort in the social networking contest by making available their new online social network called Google+.

Why they did not simply call it GooglePlus is beyond me.

I suppose someone may have thought having it read as Google+ would make it look more contemporary.

Maybe the “+” is just a way of saying they are adding yet another feature set to their existing online suite of offerings, such as Google Docs, YouTube, Chrome, Blogger and Picasa.

Why I am so fixated over a plus or +, I do not know.

This shortened URL will take you to Google’s currently active online product list: http://tinyurl.com/3zlwxlf.

Your humble and every-now- and then educated online social networking columnist recently viewed the official Google+ online demonstration.

Currently, Google+ is made up of the following collection of social networking features:

• Circles

• Hangouts

• Instant Upload

• Sparks

• Huddle

When using Circles, Google+ allows the user to create their own individualized categorizes. Under each category, the user selects the Google+ friends they want to add.

You can have an individualized circle of friends you associate with on a weekend, people who you visit when on vacation, your work associates, bosses, parents, kids, grandparents; people who share in your favorite sports teams, people you went to school with, friends you share common hobbies with . . . you get the idea.

You can also chat online within your circle of friends. By enabling the Google+ chat feature, your preselected individual circles are allowed to know whenever you’re online and available for a chat.

Hangouts allow for unplanned meet-ups. A Google+ user can alert specific friends, or an entire circle of friends, to let them know the user is available for an on-the-fly get-together.

This feature notifies others they are invited to stop by and chat online with you.

With Hangouts, you can see and hear each person in real-time, so look sharp and fire up those web cams!

The mobile Instant Upload feature provides for sharing your videos and photos instantly from your cellphone, tablet ,or other mobile device. Once you have taken that awesome photo or video, it can be directly uploaded to your Google+ private album; from there, you can choose who sees it.

Sparks asks you what your personal interests are and then searches the Internet to find the related content for you, be it video or articles.

Google+ demonstrated Sparks using examples of some personal interests, such as fashion, music, and food categories.

The Sparks categories you create are continuously being refreshed and updated with newer content; if you want to check out your categories’ latest updates, just visit Sparks.

You can also choose whether to share your Sparks categories with others.

When you want to invite, say, six of your friends to go to a movie theater, or meet someplace downtown, instead of having to do all that individual texting and placing of phone calls, Google+ offers Huddle.

With the Google+ mobile Huddle feature, you can set up a group texting chat with all six friends at the same time, with each friend reading and responding in real-time to each other’s text messages.

Google+ is still undergoing testing and is currently in its field trial period.

For now, in order to access and participate in the Google+ field trial, a person needs to receive an invitation from another Google+ user; however, Google is limiting the total number of users who can be actively using the service at any one given time.

A person can also sign up with their existing Google user account to be notified by Google when more people are required for Google+ testing.

Eventually, Google+ will conclude the field trial period.

I would then expect it to enter into a beta testing mode.

Once beta testing is completed, Google+ will become freely available to all.

I believe this new online social networking site has potential – once all the bugs (that will be discovered) are worked out.

You can read more about the Google+ project at www.google.com/+/learnmore.

Google’s YouTube account recently uploaded a video about Google+ you can watch at http://tinyurl.com/6e8ht9e.

Facebook, the world’s largest online social networking site with 750 million users, has no real reason to be worried about Google+ . . . just yet.

However, stay tuned.

Something inside me says this online social networking contest is just warming up.

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