Friday, July 8, 2011

Google+ Google's last try at social networking?

Author: Riley Alexander, MD, MBA

Orkut, Buzz, Wave...3 things you may not remember and Google is trying to forget. Those were all Google's previous efforts at social networking and they all....well, didn't quite do so hot. You may even dispute that Wave was even "social networking," but it was pretty hard to figure out really what it was and it seemed like most people agreed on that...not a good thing for your product.

Well, last week, Google unleashed Google+. It had been floating around in rumors for awhile and the "+1" icon had been seen for sometime across the Internet, but no one knew the specifics until the announcement. And surprisingly, it actually looks interesting. In a time when we are quickly reaching social networking overload, that's no small feat either. A couple of the more interesting features it has are "Circles" and "Hangouts."

"Circles" promises a more organic way of organizing your friends/contacts than using groups and the such on facebook. This may be a niche feature, but as facebook has swelled in users and become much more like Twitter in broadcasting posts, it has become increasingly difficult to limit posts to people you want to see them. More than likely there are at least a few posts that you would like to post so that only your close friends see them and not your boss. While this is possible on facebook (I think), it's not very easy to do and most people don't.

"Hangouts" is a video chat platform within Google+. Interestingly, it allows you to "hangout" until some friend come in and they can join/leave at will. From the initial reviews I have read, they have been unanimous in stating that it's the best video chat platform available.

Google+ is currently in invite-only beta right now (as Google loves to do) and I've yet to actually try it out. I'm on the waitlist for an invite so when I get one, I'll be sure and write some personal impressions and, perhaps, send out invites to anyone interested.

About the author:

Dr. Riley Alexander is a pathology resident at Indiana University School of Medicine, blog "addict" and avid follower of technology. His primary interests revolve around how technology, especially mobile, will create increased efficiency, enhanced physician education and better delivery of care in the medical field. Dr. Alexander is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine with a combined MD/MBA, in partnership with IU's Kelley School of Business. Due to this, he is also very interested in management, healthcare policy and non-clinical aspects of the medical field and enjoys exploring non-clinical opportunities for medical students, residents and physicians. He completed his undergraduate education at IU-Bloomington.

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