Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Colonizing Google+

I'm in! I've actually been in (to Google+) for a few days now, but have taken some time to play with it and see how it works. And I have to say, I am really impressed and see lots of potential for this new social medium. You can find my Google+ profile here, so please connect!


Bacterial Colony in Petri Dish
One of the things I've been impressed with is how the designers of the Google+ social medium have initiated the process of "inviting" people to join. It seems that they did, in fact, actually "invite" a few people at the beginning, but now those people have invited others, who've invited others, and so on. 

All it takes now to get in is to know somebody who is in and ask them to invite you. So, if you want in, send me your email address and I'll invite you!

I was struck by how the people who are on Google+ are coming in through their already-well-established social networks. It's like we're colonizing this medium the way a group of bacterial cells colonizes a petri dish. The result can, at times, be quite beautiful, as shown in this photograph from one of my far-flung friends and colleagues, Eshel Ben-Jacob at Tel Aviv University.

I wish I could have sat in on the discussions of the Google+ design crew as they made plans for launching this new platform. How did they choose those first adopters? It seems to me that they chose people who had a lot of well-established contacts, people who were already enthusiastic and competent users of other social media. I, for example, received my invitation from Meredith Gould who is linked to more social media communities than anybody I know -- and knows how to use them.

I have the same sense of potential for Google+ as I did for Twitter when I first joined it about two and a half years ago. The medium is set up to allow a self-organizing system to flourish, and it will, since people are very (very) social and will tolerate even a poorly-designed interface to get more chances to talk to one another and interact. Google+ seems to have fixed some of the problems with both Twitter and Facebook, which is great, but only time will tell if these improvements are enough to get people to migrate to this new medium.

One thing I am impatiently waiting for is the day when all these social media will merge and I can just "go online" to one place and see all my messages, all the ongoing conversations, all the news, all in one place with one login. Google+ works for me, a Gmail user, because it pops right up at the top and side of my email inbox. I don't have to make a special effort to go look at it, like I do with Twitter and Facebook. I would love to see this trend continue. (Developers, are you listening??)

Note added after initial publication of this post: Just saw this study which estimates the number of Google+ users at 10 million -- and this just two weeks after its launch!

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