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Is Google+ third time a charm?

Is Google+ third time a charm?

Google is taking on Facebook once again.

After failed attempts to break into the social networking juggernaut with Google Buzz and Google Wave (2009 & 2010 respectively), Google+ is focusing in on social relationships again with “real-life” sharing services. It looks like they take the Facebook Groups feature and kick it up a notch with Circles, Huddle and Hangout, allowing you to choose what you wish to share with whom.

The interface and maintenance looks pretty sharp from the video snippets. With all these new features, simplicity is key. People have spent a long time setting up the FB pages –  (uploading massive amounts of photos, adding/purging friends and playing plug-in games) – will users concede all those man hours to set up another network identity?

Is it just a “me too” contribution? Or will some of the new features be enough to create converters from Facebook? They will certainly be a bandwagon effect in the initial product push, but will users stay or wander back to Facebook. Perhaps it’s best to let Google enjoy the glow of the spotlight and see what the numbers say next year.

Here is a link to the Google Blog with videos of the new features and more concise descriptions of the latest features.

Will you be signing up?

I’m no Rocket Scientist.

I have been trying out Microsoft’s free Office Web Apps that came out last week. All you need is a Windows Live account (read Hotmail account, and who doesn’t have one of those?) Needless to say, I have been pretty impressed on how it is as a first-gen cloud app goes. While it does not have all components as a desktop version of the software, there is more than enough trinkets and tidbits to put together a respectable document. They offer Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Pretty cool.

I guess what stumps me is Microsoft’s move to the “cloud”. From a company that has made its mark (and its money) on operating systems and applications for desktop computers, what is the motive to move to the ethereal cloud and offer free web apps? Is a knee-twitched reaction to stay current with Google-who have their own suite of free web apps-or something else? What am I missing? While I applaud the move to web apps, I am curious of the business model to make it successful, profitable without snubbing users.

I’ll admit, me and Mr. Gates aren’t as tight as I would like, so I don’t have the inside scoop on how all this will pan out. I assume the first-gen freebees will be enough of a draw for convertible people before they get slammed with membership fees?

Even free comes at a price…

Social Media Strangers

There have been a few revelations on the internet regarding social connections. Facebook is still a roaring success of keeping in touch with user-selected friends and family, Twitter allows quick, rapid conversations within  140 characters. Two of the latest sites that are creating some buzz are ChatRoulette and Mystery Seeker. Both sites feed off randomness but in different extremes.

ChatRoulette

One of the latest video fads, large enough to be featured in Fast Company (here), pairs you up with random strangers via video or  text-only conversations. What originated from the mind of a 17-year old Russian kid, has quickly turned to a exhibitionists dream. Picture having a conversation about comic books with a fat guy wearing a bear costume, or a discussion of Latin in the 21st century with a dominatrix and her hand puppet… The opportunities are endless. It’s kind of cool to interact with others you wouldn’t normally think to, but as with most web platforms, it hasn’t taken long for there to be large amounts of sexual content. BEWARE!

Mystery Seeker (formerly Mystery Google)

The foundation of this site is based around the search engine Google, with the spin of receiving search results from the previous user. Naturally, I had to try it out. I looked up “Cat food” and received actual Google Search results for “Strep Throat”. Meh, the novelty has now worn off. It’s a kitchy, gimmick site that isn’t going to get any traction. So why is it still a hot topic online? Is it an opportunity to expand knowledge on topic you haven’t thought of? Or is it just an opportunity for voyeurism? I bet you will try this one out at least once.

Are these “random” sites the next progression of social interaction? Or is it just a quick zig when others zag experiment? What are your thoughts??

Facebook privacy issues are out in the open.

Once again Facebook, and primarily it’s privacy issues has reared its ugly head. If you are 1 of the 350 million users, you will have noticed that recent upgrade went live Dec. 9. Facebook changed its openness options on what updates, status changes, photos etc. can be viewed by who. Simply put, it’s about letting you set your security settings of who sees what.

This is not the first time Facebook has changed its policy. Read a previous post of the last guffaw on the issue.

Critic backlash has been swift. In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “These new ‘privacy’ changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. ” It added: “Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.”

Many users have quickly altered their profiles of what they post, as well as reducing the amount of use to the site. How easier will these changes make hacking or spamming you be with weaker security. How many users will jump ship over this one?

Facebook defends the change citing that it is not about users disclosing even more personal information, but about making updates findable via search engines. Does that mean that if I put that I had a rough day at work I will come up in searches for depression or job postings? How valuable are my updates to people anyways?

Facebook has quickly moved into a social site that is selectively social and private. People only invite friends they want to be in contact with. Chances are, if you’re not on my friend list by now, my being searchable via Google isn’t gonna get you there either.