If Google+ was a comfy couch at a conference…

Google+ barFor a while yesterday, Google turned on the spigot and folks were able to freely invite others to Google+. In that window of opportunity, I snagged an invite from NTEN’s Amy Sample Ward and have spent the last day playing around with it in between other projects.

Most posts and conversations today in my circles have been focused around making sense out of it all. Is it a Facebook killer? How difficult will it be to maintain when everyone is let in? Just how frustrating is it that it only works with old-style Google Accounts and not Google Apps accounts. It’s a new room, and folks are a bit too focused on the smell of the fresh paint. That will pass.

One difference is apparent to me: On Facebook, your posts are shared as widely as possible by default and you can take an extra step to exclude people. On Google+, your posts are shared with one circle by default and you can take an extra step to include more people.

When I go to Facebook, I typically skim back in my feed to see what I missed since my last visit. I don’t see myself doing that with Google+ although I do watch for notifications. For it to work for me, Google+ has to be less about broadcasting updates than it is about sharing with personal connections. I hope it stays that way. I decided for myself that I won’t be posting “Public” updates on Google+. I don’t see any value there over Facebook or Twitter or here on my blog. But I can tell already that I do like following, sharing and filtering by small groups based on criteria that is very personal to me. More intimate. Easier to just happen thanks to the black bar. I hid off my profile the count of how many people have me in circles. I visit profiles of my friends just to find friends we have in common who are already in. To me, I never want it be about building or comparing numbers.

To my mind that has to turn everything into an analogy…and in appreciation that my first Google+ contacts are predominately nptechie folks…to me Facebook is like NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). If someone is speaking at the front of the room, everyone can see exactly who is listening. There’s a clear area for brands (pages) and marketing. There are lots of organized networking opportunities. Some even complain that it’s too big. But now think of those comfy couches in the hallways and the conversations that just kind of happen there in between sessions as people are drawn together by common interests. That’s what I want Google+ for. Those side connections are not technically part of NTC, but for me it’s an essential part of the conference. The small, unplanned and intimate conversations in the hallways wouldn’t happen without the conference, and the conference itself wouldn’t be as rich without the socializing.

Sure, I can stand on the couch and shout an announcement to everyone within the sound of my voice…by why would I want to when the people I really want to talk to are sitting right there? Save the announcement for when I’m in the room with the microphone.


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