I’m sure that by now many of you have heard the buzz about Google+. The way I sum up Google+ is that it has Facebook’s way of posting and commenting, with Twitter’s “you don’t have to be mutual friends” awesomeness. It also allows you to group people into “Circles” so that you can only post to specific groups of people. I pretty much just post all of my stuff to everyone, since the only group I would post separately to would be my “family” circle (and so far none of them have accepted their invites … sigh).
You may have also heard some of the distaste about Google’s TOS (Terms of Service), which is summed up pretty well by Scott Bourne over at his blogs Photofocus and GoingPro. Scott has a valid point—there are some concerns about content (my main concern being photography) if it’s posted to Google+, since they are claiming a royalty free license to your content if you post it on the site. My “I’m not a lawyer but this is probably still solid” solution? I’ll continue to post my photos on my blog, 500px.com and on Flickr and then share the link (not the actual photos) on Google+. I doubt that Google could lay any claims to linked content, especially since that consists of the entire Internet and anyone can post a link to anything.
Aside from the TOS, in the few weeks it’s been open to the public Google+ has shown the potential to be a really beneficial social network to use in addition to Twitter and Facebook (the two I use the most). Right now I don’t see it replacing anything for me, since most of my friends and family are on Facebook and they are all unlikely to transition over to G+. I also find Twitter so useful on its own that you won’t see me quieting down over there, either. As a digital photographer who tries to stay active in both the photography and tech world I use social networks a lot (mostly Twitter) and I think that Google+ has potential to be a good way to network and meet new people.
My favorite feature (so far) is the Hangouts. It’s basically just video chat that will accomodate up to 10 people at a time, but is unique to many of the existing social networks. I’ve already met some cool people and made some connections … I’ll probably be having (and joining) hangouts regularly just to chat with other G+ users and photographers over time. There are some features I wish they would add, like reserving spots for specific users (especially the host) and ways to customize some of the settings (especially the sounds), and it would be great if I could do a screen-cast to share my desktop and also allow an “audience” if I wanted to allow people to just watch the hangout if it’s already full. But overall it’s still a really neat feature.
If you don’t have a Google+ account and want to try it out, Trey Ratcliff has a “pay it forward” thing on his Facebook page. Just watch for a post offering invites and add your gmail/email address (more info here on his blog). And once you get there, look me up! :)\
Update: I created a quick “Basics of Google+” video … click here to view it on YouTube!