This might come as a shock to you, but I never joined Facebook.
In addition to thinking it was all that was soulless and wrong with the Internet, I also viewed the privacy issues the company had (or, more accurately, created for itself) as a deal-breaker.
I took to Twitter immediately though, and one reason was that Twitter by its very nature is public -- the expectation is that whatever you post on Twitter will be with you for the rest of your life, so you post accordingly. The expectation with Facebook was that your content was private -- but of course that wasn't always the case.
When Google announced the Google+ project, I was intrigued. Could this finally be the long-awaited alternative to Facebook that so many people had been waiting for? As I said, I never used Facebook so I don't think I can definitively answer that question. I can tell you that so far I am very much enjoying Google+ (despite how difficult it is to hit that plus sign on the keyboard in typing this column) and am slowly but surely incorporating it into my online day.
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While Twitter is still my go-to social media outlet, last week I announced that my wife and I are expecting our second child in February on both Twitter and Google+, simultaneously knowing that between the two all our friends should get the news. That probably will be my workflow going forward.
WHAT IT OFFERS
'Circles': The biggest aspect of Google+ would have to be "Circles." They function essentially as lists that you create and add people to. Then depending on the content you wish to share, you choose which Circles see that content.
For example, I have several Circles set up: "Friends," "Family," "Tech Nerds" and "Packeteers." If I have a funny cat video to post, then I'll just share that with my Friends, Family and Packeteers Circles. But if that funny cat video included me being chased by said cat and falling flat on my face, then I might just choose to share that with my Friends Circle and not the Packeteers Circle so I don't get made fun of at work. Circles give the user a lot of flexibility, and I think it's well implemented.
'Sparks': Another features of Google+ is "Sparks," which allows you to search for any topic you're interested in and have related content appear instantly.
'Hangouts': This is another feature which I think will only get more useful over time. With Hangouts you can have up to 10 people video-chatting at the same time. The business applications of this feature are immediately apparent, but when I think of how my son's entire extended family in Idaho can be present for his next birthday party ... well, that's pretty cool.
WANT TO JOIN?
Although it has more than 20 million users already, Google+ is still invite-only. But if you need one, feel free to email me and I'll see what I can do.
Find me on Google+ by searching for "PacketITguy" and follow if you're so inclined. I won't promise a video of me falling flat on my face, but I will be posting the most relevant tech news of the day.