If you have read previous posts on this site, you will have seen my posts on Diaspora.

Diaspora is an open-source social network created by students at NYU (New York University)
The social network was built with one thing in mind: Security

Firstly it worked by means of pods, that’s to say that you hold your information locally without it being on some database somewhere but connect to the general network.

Secondly it used an interesting revolutionary idea where you created categories which you placed your various contacts into.
The good thing about this is that you could make for instance a ‘family’ category and a ‘work’ category.
You probably wouldn’t want your boss to know what you have to say in your spare time, so you are able to send posts but select which categories they are sent to, giving you control.

You are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with Google Plus (G+/Google+). Well, let me tell you.

Google Plus: An original idea?

Well anyone who hasn’t discovered Diaspora will probably think that Google Plus is a new original idea created by Google, those who know Diaspora will know better.

It’s pretty safe to say that most features on Google Plus were ripped and renamed from Diaspora.
But before you get angry at Google Plus for that, that’s the beauty of open-source, copy and improve, exactly what Google Plus did.

Google Plus vs. Facebook

Everyone is calling Google Plus a Facebook killer, but that’s not entirely true. It definately could be, but there is an important factor that has to be taken into consideration.

Let’s have a look at Facebook’s features first of all so we can see what the most popular social network has offered us:

  • Post your latest status updates
  • Join groups based on interests
  • Play games
  • Chat
  • Let the world know where you are
  • Show off pictures/videos/music
  • Mobile application for Android, iPhone and Blackberry and a mobile site for all other phones
  • Content security (very basic)
  • Being in control of who may add you
  • Messaging
  • Liking a post
  • Replying to other posts
  • Updates by mail

As you can see, and already know most likely, Facebook has a lot to offer, but look a little deeper and you will find some things that may either make you feel a little unhappy and sometimes downright annoyed.

First of all, the privacy settings; they are basic at best. You pretty much can show all, or nothing to people visiting your profile.
Then there is the fact that if someone sends a request to become your friend and you accept, they can see your other friends unless those friends have privacy on their profile.
The problem with that is that there are some people who after adding you think it’s okay to add people they found on your profile eventhough they don’t know them (yes I’ve had those people).

What about when you send a reply to a post and the thread turns into a discussion about a McDonalds meal? Well, you receive a message every minute on things that simply don’t concern you. I know you can change it but still worth mentioning.

Then there is the problem that when you post a message EVERYBODY sees it, which in my case has caused me not to post at all from time to time.

Basically it comes down to this; If you join Facebook, you plunge deep into a social web, you either share with everyone or you don’t and that’s not good to me.

But lets take a look at Google Plus:

What does it offer?

  • Post your latest status updates (More about this below)
  • Add people based on interests
  • Play games
  • Chat (also with mic and cam)
  • Let the world know where you are
  • Show off pictures/videos/music
  • Mobile application for Android, iPhone and Blackberry and a mobile site for all other phones (more about this below)
  • Content security (very customized)
  • Being in control of who may see what
  • Messaging
  • +1 a post
  • Replying to other posts
  • Updates by mail

Basically in a nutshell to those who only use Facebook and are slightly curious:

Google Plus can do EVERYTHING Facebook can, and more.

You can do all the usual that you can do on Facebook in pretty much the same way, but there are ways of accomplishing the task that is very unique.

First of all you don’t add people in one large group like on Facebook (your contacts)
Instead, you create categories (see where Diaspora comes in?) called ‘Circles’, and whenever you add a person you can add them in a circle of your choice.
When you post something new, you are provided with a little green box usually saying ‘All your circles’ which you can close and select the circles you wish to see the post. No longer will your boss know about your secret love for furry handcuffs (unless you want to).

But this also works as a private messaging place. It’s odd and not very obvious to be fair, but if you write a message and delete the green box and instead type in the name of your friend, it sends it as a message to him/her.
From there you can also add pictures or music or a video just like Facebook.

Next is the amazing feature called Huddle.
Facebook gives you the ability to chat to people individually, Google Plus takes it further by creating a huddle and inviting people to it. This means you don’t have to tell everyone about going to the local bar and asking if they want to come along. Simply open a huddle, invite those needed to ask and chat in a group.

If you like more a of a personal approach, why not create a Hangout, where you can have your friends join and you all chat with cam and mic, it’s a little like Skype but without the download and directly from your browser, meaning it can be done anywhere!

Privacy is intense, and so custom that you are in charge of pretty much everything.

By default, your circles are not openly viewable by everyone, only those circles that a person belongs to, meaning to a certain extent people can’t add others from your other circles.
But by going through your preferences you can even hide circles completely meaning they can’t see anyone in your circles.

But the greatest security feature when it comes to visibility is the fact that you can look at your profile and select what features you want to make visible and what you don’t simply by selecting that area of your profile. This means I can show what my hobbies are, but not my date of birth to people who haven’t added me or let my quote be seen by my family but not work mates. It’s extremely customizable to an extent that it feels that you are completely in charge.

Also you can decide what you are notified about and what not by email.

The +1 feature doesn’t need explaining other than that it’s like the ‘Like’ button on Facebook. The only extra about this is that it works outside of Google Plus too. If you are on a website and it has a +1 button, you can click it and on your Google Plus account it’s been added.

Photos and the like look amazing, they are categorized by which of your friends have photos from YOUR account instead of going through theirs, as well as looking nice too.

But, there is a downside in my opinion to Google Plus (it’s not too big though).

Since Google also has it’s own mobile OS (Android), they started with an application specific to Android, which absolutely rocks if you own one. They now also have one for the iPhone. But I have a Blackberry and you can only use the webapp for that if you have OS6+, and I don’t (if you don’t check out my post on how to get it working there).
It doesnt look as nice on the WebApp, although it doesn’t look bad either.

When I have to honestly say which I prefer, I have to say Google Plus. Their tons of extra features and handling of those we already knew, makes this just a little more special.

It is worth mentioning however that everyone can add everyone without needing to get permission. But in the privacy preferences you can opt for the visibility of posts etc for those who aren’t in your circles, so they can only see other things once they are in your circles. Kinda like letting them know you exist but from a distance.

BUT…There’s more

Google Plus vs. Twitter

Strangely enough, Twitter considers Google Plus more of a threat than Facebook does.

On Google Plus there is also a Buzz tab, which in case you aren’t familiar with it, is Google’s idea of a Twitter type micro blog.

It’s nicely integrated and can be connected to Twitter, but to be honest, is not as good as Twitter.

Buzz is pretty much a micro blogging application that allows you to post and receive posts, but it doesn’t really go futher than that.
I wish I could tell you more, but there simply isn’t. Although I have not really gone into it too much.

No searching, no trending (I think).

You can follow people on it but Google Plus is more based on it’s social networking rather than micro blogging.

Simply put, Twitter beats it hands down.

If Google Plus is so good, why is it not beating Facebook?

Simple, MySpace was once the social network everybody used but it was archaic in the use of HTML etc.

Then Facebook came along and everybody switched and got so used to it’s ease of use that the don’t want to switch.

Google Plus has the potential to kill Facebook, but it seems to much of a hassle to most people and they therefore don’t switch.

When Google makes switching all Facebook details to Google Plus easy, I’m sure we will see a battle between the two.

Conclusion

I now use Google Plus more than Facebook.

If you give Google Plus a chance, you will not look back, it has everything you already have and added features on top.

Google Plus is far better than Facebook but not on par with Twitter.
All in all, Google Plus is a fantastic product.

Let me know what you think.

Are you already on Google Plus feel free to add me by searching for ‘Arthur Moore’.

If you aren’t on Google Plus but wish to be, visit this link: https://plus.google.com/i/5RRoAsNAYio:C0LyucXjpoE

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