For a really long time, Google has been treating the social world the same way as Microsoft treated the internet. We all remember how Bill Gates back in 1994 said "I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years." and for many years (and still to this day), Microsoft suffers from their lack of internet mindset.
Google has been the same way. Social to them was an algorithm - something to add to search. But in recent years, things have started to change. First with Google Wave (brilliant idea, but the world wasn't ready for it - and it was too hard to replace email). Then Google Buzz, which flopped catastrophically. Then with several minor projects that didn't really catch on. To the recent Plus one button, which wasn't really social.
But now, it seems like Google is actually on to something. The new Google+ is all about you as a person, the connections you have, and how Google can help you to have a more meaningful "social circle." It is not about algorithms. It is about people.
I haven't tried it yet. I do not have access (for several reasons). But I can give you all the things I have seen.
There are good articles about it over at Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOm. You can also go to Google's blog and hear what Google says about it. You can see the Google+ information pages via this URL (Google Apps users can't enter via the front page - but this URL gets you in) ...or you can take the interactive tour here.
Or you can look at all the videos below.
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today's online services turn friendship into fast food-wrapping everyone in "friend-paper"and sharing really suffers.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, "What do people actually do?" And we didn't have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time - with their circles.
Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you'll always have something to watch, read and share - with just the right circle of friends.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles.
...and many other things.
It is really very very exciting.
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