Google+, Google+1

I think I may have been the first Unitarian Universalist minister to have gotten a Google+ account. (I’m one of four Scott Wellses, but easy to identify.) That’s the benefit of working at a tech-centric organization: early access to an invitation. And the lesson learned from thinking Twitter was nonsense and a dead-end when I first heard of it, what, three years ago?

Yes, I like Google+ my reservations about Google — so my ever-loving husband reminds me — notwithstanding. Yes, it’s much like Facebook, with the most obvious missing functionality being groups and pages. Also, there’s no real way for a group or business (read: church) to participate, but the word on the street is that Google will have something out for them in a couple of weeks. And I expect new features will roll out, and that Google won’t give up on this foray into networking and have learned from the Google Buzz and Google Wave feature and rollout mistakes. (I want Google Reader integration.) Indeed, Google has made getting an invitation like Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket and, yes, I’ve been doing my part to pass along invites. (Leave a comment if you want one.)

Two things make it better than Facebook:

  1. You can parse people you know into distinct groups, which means you can target your voice and can exclude your mother from the saucier parts of your life: the Facebook problem. If this carries to participating organizations, it could help shape its programming and marketing.
  2. It has much more fine-tuned privacy and data controls. Facebook has a terrible pattern of privacy over-reach; Google has a better reputation. Google allows you to export your data — like your contact lists; Facebook? forget it.

Facebook is like old Ma Bell. Most everyone depends on it and puts up with its annoyances to keep getting the bit they want. But I know many people who would give it up in a heartbeat if there was a viable alternative, and I hope Google+ is it. Just a few days in — and with most of the people I’m linked in having joined in the last 72 hours — I can feel the switch happening.

Now, I also have heard that Google +1 will be integrated into Google+; this is its “like” feature, so I’ll be adding a +1 button to this blog’s pages. Here’s how and what you get out of it. There’s also emerging plugins for the Chrome browser that allows Facebook integration, which I’ll examine.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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