Five Things to love about Google+

Facebook should be worried. Google has got something great brewing up in Google+
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

First things first: I don't have any Google+ invites. Sorry Ken! I had some, but only minutes after I got into Google+, Google closed the doors saying "We've shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest! "

I'm sorry about that. I'd give you all invites if I could. Why? Because why Google+ is still just beta, it has several features I really like. These are, in no particular order:

1. Easily Share Information with Select Groups: Circles

On Facebook, everything I say is, pretty much shared with everyone who follows me. That includes close friends and relatives who actually do care-or do a fine job of pretending that they care-about what "adventures" I'm having with my pair of dogs. And, it includes people who want to know my latest thoughts about Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com) or IPv6. As you might imagine, only a very few of my Facebook friends care both about my dogs and technology.

With Google+ circles, it's easy to divide up the dog-lovers from the Linux fans and vice-versa. Sure, you can rig up something like this in Facebook as well, but it's not simple. Advantage: Google+

Google Circles are easy to use.

Google Circles are easy to use.

2. I own my information.

Facebook co-owns anything I put on the site. That's never made me happy. While Google, as the more paranoid among us are acutely aware, tracks almost anything we put on the Web, also states in its Terms of Service that "You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services." Now, that's more like it!

Page 2: [Data Portabilty, Video & Sparks] »

Data Portabilty, Video & Sparks

3. I can take my information with me if I leave Google+

Once upon a time, I used an early social network called Live Journal. I stopped using it years ago, but there were a lot of good messages to and from friends I wanted to keep. Other than tediously digging through the archives, discussion thread by discussion thread, I couldn't do it. It's same thing with Twitter, Facebook, and all the others now. Getting the information I've placed into any of these systems anywhere is a real pain-in-the-neck. Sometimes, it's not even possible.

Google Takout: Finally! An easy way to get information out of a social network.

Google Takout: Finally! An easy way to get information out of a social network.

With Google Takeout, which, with Google+ is part of Google's larger Emerald Sea project, I can download an archive of my Google+ data whenever I want. I love this feature. Now, even if Google+ follows Google Wave down the drain of bad ideas, I still have my information.

4. Integrated Video Conferencing

I'm still just playing with this, but Google+ Hangouts, which integrates video chat, into the social network is already proving fun. In addition, I can also go right into Google Chat. Facebook has its own built-in Chat as well, but I far prefer Google's IM capabilities to Facebook's offering.

Hangout also lets you watch, in real-time, with a friend a YouTube video. This could be fun. It could also be useful in work as presumably Google, will make it possible to stream other video sources into it.

5. Sparks over Likes

With Facebook, when you become a fan of or "like" something all you often get is ads based on what you've liked.

Yes, Facebook, I like the music of Roy Orbison, but do I really need a message every day "from" Roy. I mean he died back in 1988. When I "like" something in Sparks though I get related articles, blogs, whatever on the subject I'm interested in from all over the Web and not just some ads from some store that wants me to buy an Orbison album.

Is Google+ perfect? Oh no. It still has its rough spots. For example, I can share something someone "shared" with me privately in a public circle. That needs fixed in the worse way.

But, as bad as that is, have you looked at what you need to do to secure Facebook these days? Facebook is a security nightmare.

Over the last few months, I've looked at a lot of the so-called Facebook competitors such as Dispora, and Google+ is the first one I've ever seen that I could say "I think this might just work." When the doors are open again-my educated guess is this won't happen until after the 4th of July weekend-see if you can get an invite and give it a try. I think you'll like what you find.

Related Stories:

With Google+, the social world could be gearing up for a showdown

Dear Google, where the hell is my Google+ invitation?

Invite your entire Facebook graph into Google Plus

Google+: It's friending, with benefits

Editorial standards