Google+ Arrives

Feeling a little left out because you haven't received your invitation to Google+? Don't worry, that's the point. After struggling through three previous incarnations, the New and Improved Google Social Network, awkwardly named Google+ is officially open for business. This is not to be confused with ?Google +1? which was released a few months back, and was ostensibly an opening salvo in their newly heightened battle with Facebook over social media supremacy. That was merely the Google version of Facebook's 'Like' system. With their unveiling of Google+, the search giant is now ironically acting as giant-killer in launching their own full-fledged answer to Facebook's social media juggernaut.

So you haven't gotten your invite yet, but the artificial scarcity that Google is engineering here (perhaps taking a page from the Steve Jobs handbook) is to engender a grassroots, viral campaign feeling to their roll-out. You're probably a bit more inclined to join if invited by your best friends than by having it forced down your throat every time you log into your Gmail. It's savvy marketing, and by all accounts, the buzz seems to be positive (no pun intended - Google would rather forget that little misadventure). Tech Crunch, Gizmodo, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and a slew of other respected publications and blogs have given it high marks, some with the caveat that it may be a little late in the game to be taking on Mr. Zuckerberg.

But for all intents and purposes, Google+ seems to strive to be the anti-Facebook on one fundamental level - that the world of online socializing is taking on a more grown-up approach. What they seem to be betting on is the long-held, and valid concern that Facebook is too social. When you make an announcement, post a video, 'like' something or interact in any way, it's broadcast to all of your 'friends.' And let's be honest, how many of those people are your friends? Granted, Facebook has grudgingly made adjustments to this problem through "Groups" and the like, but Google+ has made it easier, more streamlined, and by some accounts, somewhat fun to group your acquaintances into corresponding groups that are privy only to the info that you deem worthy for that particular "Circle". While some have lamented this approach (some commenters say they like this aspect and how it differs from real-world interaction), as social networks evolve into becoming an integral part of 'real-world interaction' people of legal drinking age require a more nuanced approach.

Either way, if it reaches some modicum of success, Google+ will be a welcome alternative for many disenchanted current and former Facebook members. But we'll see - after all, it's not a success or a social network at all unless people are using it.

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