Some Thoughts on Google+

I shared some of my thoughts on Google+ over at Women of Google+, which I’m cross-posting in part here.  I’ve only been using the service for a few days, so these reactions are still pretty preliminary.

How did you originally get invited to Google+?
My partner invited me to a Google Hangout, even though we were both in the same apartment, across the hall from each other. Even the cats got into it. It was cute and geeky. ; )

How does Google+ fit into your life or career?
I’m an internet and technology researcher, so having the latest shiny thing is more or less a job requirement! What’s been fantastic so far is that all my close collaborators, research partners and colleagues are also all wired in as well. It’s been fun to test drive Google+ as a collaborative research platform together.
Hangouts have been great so far, not only for long (and short!) -distance outings with friends and family, but also for research meetings with collaborators. It’s great to be able to do a synchronous review of digital materials without significant time lags or delay while people scramble for the same link. Combined with Google Docs or PiratePad and you have a great dynamic synchronous composition environment. Of course, all this was previously available by cobbling together different services and products, but it’s great to have it all available “in the same bucket,” as it were.

A particularly interesting story or thoughts you may want to add regarding Google+
A lot of folks have mentioned Google+ as a new Great Techno Hope for bloggers and activists in repressive countries. Whether or not the privacy policy, practices and user-facing controls are robust enough for that user population, I think, remains to be seen. Google+’s “real names” policy is equally problematic as it is for activists on Facebook.  (EDIT: Google+’s name policy is actually an “identified” name policy, which is differently problematic. For a good discussion of what this means in practice, check out Jillian York’s discussion of the issue here.)

Another issue I’ve been thinking about recently is the concentration of digital identity assets within a single family of products. This raises monopoly/customer lock-in concerns, but let’s talk personal nightmare scenario here: what if your Google account is compromised? ::hides under the bed:: It really stresses how much faith we’re putting in corporations like Google to keep our data safe, and how important it is to maintain best security practices on the user side as well.

Anyone else currently messing around on Google+, please comment with your thoughts on the service!