I realize I owe y'all a post on the ethical eating project. But the question I've been asked most often in the last few days and some of the other related questions bear answering.
1. You sent me a google plus invite, what does that mean?
I like you and wish to remain connected with you and/or video chat with you at some point in the near future.
2. You didn't send *me* a google plus invite?
Either I didn't think you were into that sort of thing or I didn't feel like I knew you particularly well. If you want one, shoot me a facebook message. If we're not facebook friends, that's a big clue why I didn't think you'd be into that sort of thing.
3. What does google plus do?
It's a social networking site, kinda like Facebook.
4. Well, yes, but what does Google Plus do that Facebook doesn't?
A few things:
First of all, for legal types and other professional folks, being able to keep your work contacts separate from your social contacts is a lovely thing. Google Plus uses "circles" to make that easier. Arguably, if you don't want your parents to see something, you shouldn't be putting it on the internet in the first place, but if you like to keep your family stuff separate, that also is an option.
So far my favorite new feature is the "hangout" where you can announce yourself available to all your friends for video chat. I had a nice chat with a friend from college. Ok, slightly awkward, but nice. I'm really looking forward to using this for meetings in the future. I'm not sure I will keep it open most of the time, because I have stuff to do, but I will be trying it out over the next few weeks.
There's a feature called "sparks" that I haven't really explored yet. Something about sharing interests with other people. I will report when I figure it out.
So far, the most subtly striking feature I've seen is that any time I'm on gmail, I have notification box that lets me know that I've got a new message on plus. Given the number of people who use gmail for work, it is possible that staying off of google plus will rapidly become next to impossible for those of us with short attention spans.
5. How else does it differ from Facebook?
Well, as this XKCD comic indicates having a Facebook-like feel without being Facebook has some real advantages. The two primary things facebook has that google plus thus far lacks are annoying webgames and a willingness to hand out your private information like digital Halloween candy.
Of course, you're giving Google still more information about yourself, but at this point, it isn't like Google doesn't probably know everything about you that they want to. I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.
Anyway, that's what I have to report. If you're on google plus, feel free to friend me. If not, I can't say that I see it as a lifechanging big deal so far.
6. Any implication for online connectivity among religious people so far?*
I've never had time to join a covenant group. I'd be interested in trying one one the "hangout" feature sometime. No, I don't think everybody's covenant group should be online. But I think it is worth a shot.
To me, at least, this video chat felt a little more natural. Goodness knows it is easier to use than most chat programs I've tried.
So that's that for now.
*If you're new to my blog, one of my serious interests is religious faith in a digital world and the way technology can be used to form meaningful connections between people. I realize this is kinda weird if you only know me in a law school context.