So there’s been a plethora of “new” social media lately. Well, if two = a plethora. OK, so not that many! but still, two remarkably similar (visually, at least) alternatives to Facebook, The Evil Grandaddy of Social Networking or whatever it’s called today.
First, by release, is Google+. Google+ had the advantage of being part of Google’s less-than-evil empire, and pretty good integration with all of their other stuff, which half the world already uses. I mean, I suppose I’m not necessarily typical, but I use GMail (several accounts), Google Apps for my business email, iGoogle to corral my RSS feeds and a few other bits and pieces, and I had tried Google Buzz and Google Wave, although they pretty much fizzled out in spite of some good things. So I could be more heavily-Googled than many, I don’t know.
So I got a coveted invitation, and quickly spread the joy as far as I could. People complained, “It doesn’t DO anything,” forgetting that the first component of one of these systems is the user: the user has to fill it up with pictures and jokes and stories and links and so on and so forth. It also needs a critical mass of users, which I think had been a problem with all of these Google things: where Facebook has been around for years now, and even your mom and your friend from 10th grade are all on there, they’re not on Google+ and not likely to join. And the hip thing about Google+ is the “circles” feature that lets you share things selectively, among certain friends but not others. But somehow we weren’t eager to invite all the old rellies and long-lost acquaintances of Facebook into our private circles.
Google has the +1 possibility, which is a little different from the Facebook “like” and has that implemented across other things like your Google searches. They also have the intriguing Huddle, which allows multiple users to video chat at the same time, like a super-Skype. Usage (mine and others’) has been kind of in fits and starts, the Google+, and then they added games. Well, I like a good game, so I started to play one. I got sucked in enough that I actually spent some cash money for credits. Their game is a LOT more expensive to play than the Facebook game I’ve put cash into. Like, exponentially more expensive. I finally had a “screw it” moment yesterday when for the billionth* time, it wasted minutes of use of my item that cost credits because the servers are overloaded or the game just isn’t built properly, or whatever the problem is, but I’m not into waiting for shit to load for minutes at a time.
So after Google+ came out, there were rumblings on the twitters that it looked a LOT like Diaspora*. Diaspora* was the original answer to Facebook, trying to capture all the people who leave Facebook in waves as various privacy barriers are breached. Diaspora* had been in alpha for a very long time (and I’d been on the waiting list for nearly as long, it seemed), but earlier this week or last week, they started talking about releasing invites, finally.
A friend got Wm Gibson to wrangle him an invite (excellent use of online resources), and he was kind enough to share with me.
Visually, it’s nearly identical to Google+ and if I were Diaspora…well, I guess all you can do is be flattered at the imitation. The Diaspora Aspects (stupid name, btw) were presumably the template of the Google+ Circles. No games yet, and a really empty, echoey feeling, but it is still in Alpha, officially, so we can expect things to get better.
I have more than 600 Facebook friends (many just game friends), and around 40 Google+ friends, and a mere 11 Diaspora* friends, so far. It’s hard to tell how it will be, but if they can successfully scale up to accommodate a bunch more users, I think they’re in with a chance.
We’ll see how it goes. If anyone wants an invite (to Google+ or to Diaspora*) do let me know and make sure I have your email.
* Possible exaggeration.