I've nearly as many connections on Google Plus (3700) as I have followers on Twitter (4000). Those numbers don't convert into people who pay me money, read my blog, or buy my rounds at the local pub. But there's another page in this story and it has the avatars, faces, and tearaway commentary from hundreds of strangers, many writing in languages and type fonts I do not understand. I have discovered one very large community that incorporates thousands of smaller encircled groups of real people, often with really interesting perspectives when using Google Plus inside third level education or for business.
I do understand the sharing nature of online social networking and I like how sharing happens in social layers with Google Plus, Google Circles and Google Hangouts. I see interesting results when I search for watchlist terms inside Google Plus. After a single academic semester, I think I'm writing better training material now than I was a year ago with cross-referenced stacks of search engine results, Slideshares and Scribd documents.
For me, the most fascinating aspect of Google Plus lies in a form of engagement through threaded comments that I have always preferred to any other form of electronic collaboration. I've waded into some G+ comment strings (on threads and photos) and then started following people whose perspective I enjoyed. Sometimes they followed me back. This spontaneous circling is happening behind the public timeline on G+ which makes it very difficult for someone in their helicopter to see if Google Plus is a favourite way to hang out online.
Online social networking has always been a time sink for me. I have constrained my time on e-mail lists, discussion boards, Twitter, Flickr groups, and Facebook to make time for Google Plus. For most of my friends, they cannot see the point of reducing time where they enjoy their interactions. Other friends run their lives through e-mail contact and e-mail delegation. They have to keep an eye on the subject headings or their phones start to melt down. I get all that. And after four months inside Google Plus, I'm comfortably nestled in a flow of conversation that seems to be a lot more interesting than other watering holes I frequent online.
I am http://gplus.to/topgold if you want to connect there. Illustration by Elke Fleing.
Four Months Ago after one month with Google Plus.