I have been on Google+ for almost a week now and it's been fascinating for me to watch how it is evolving in my "circles," namely the United Methodist Church online world, campus ministry people, and my college students. I scored an invite first from a recent grad, but couldn't figure out how to accept the invite and then a fellow young UMC clergy sent me an invite which I did figure out how to accept! Within a day, I found people that I knew (in real life and in the digital world) and other people found me. It was fascinating to watch how quickly people popped up on Google+. I was actually an early adopter of Facebook (when I started, it was before it was public, as some Southwestern students lobbyed the FB folks for a network. I believe we got one in early 2006.) and a fairly early Twitter adopter. I got pulled in to Facebook by my students and I got pulled into Twitter by UMC young clergy colleagues, and I got pulled into Google+ from people that I followed on Twitter. We'll see how things take off with G+, but here are a few observations that I've made:
- I have been surprised at how many of my college students have already gotten on G+. It seems that with the exception of a couple, most of my students did not jump on board with Twitter. In the last year, a dozen or so (that are in my world) have begun tweeting, but I already have that many students that have signed up for G+. This gives me great hope that all of the collaborative potential that I see for G+ might actually be able to be used!
- I think that people really are gravitating toward the idea of selective disclosure of themselves, ie., the various ways that that they can reveal their online selves by posts going to particular circles. Facebook certainly has that ability, but one must be pretty savvy and disciplined to sort people, add to lists, etc., etc., in order for it to live up to it's potential.
- I'm hoping that G+ stays away from the online games and such that has been the legacy of Facebook. I know that there is a certain kind of community in online gaming, but I don't want another Farmville request! I'm not interested! :-)
- I "follow" many of the same people in FB, Twitter, and G+ and right now, everyone seems to be posting all three places. I'm wondering if that will change with time..if we will figure out where the best audience is for which type of communication and connect there. I'm sure that this will evolve as we figure it out, and I'm curious how it will develop.
- I'm not a Mac devotee and I was pleasantly surprised that the G+ app was on Android first! It is awesome! I can definitely see how I would use G+ different on my phone and I like what I see!
Anyway...almost a week in and I'm encouraged that Google+ could actually do what FB and email haven't been able to do in my ministry: make communication with my students a little easier (they don't get on FB to "communicate"--it is for entertainment, and many don't read email at all or very frequently!). That remains to be seen...it could just be that it's the shiny new thing, but it looks promising!