Online social networking sites prove again and again to be the lightning rod the rest of the Internet connects to. As Facebook emerges as the world leader in social networking, Google strives to keep up with, and eventually knock down the super power created by Mark Zuckerberg. With their newest venture, Google+ tries to fix what went wrong with Google Wave; by that, I mean that they hope someone will actually use this. Google Wave was too complex for its own good; but that’s neither here nor there, you can read more about Google Wave here. It’s all about Google+ now.

Registration can currently only take place if a user is invited by a member, but these days it’s not terribly difficult to find someone who can shoot you an invite. The network organizes all of your contacts into “circles” which you can create and edit as you wish. For instance, I have a Cinemablend circle, a Cal Poly Pomona circle, Friends, Family, etc. It’s a clever way to organize contacts, and is something that rival Facebook has tried to push on users for over a year now with Facebook Groups. Unlike Facebook Groups, Google+’s Circle system is casual, easy, and visually appealing. It’s another step down the path of complete content control -- with Circles, you can choose who sees what; so the photos of that party you had the other night is restricted strictly to your friends -- not your parents and boss.

The integration of your Google Talk contacts and Picasa photos further shores up the Google brand, bringing all of their pieces together to create one social network. Unlike Facebook, which was built from the ground up, Google+ is the integration of several different applications. For Google users like myself, this is great news; however if you’re a heavy Yahoo user, the switch will be a huge pain in the ass.

Google+ is a great medium between Facebook and Twitter. It is not yet popular enough or functional enough to replace either of those mediums, but in time it will be a fierce competitor at the very least, if not Facebook’s demise. So go get yourself an invite and get started on the newest social networking craze!

Some articles that are great if you’re just starting on Google+:
How to transfer your Facebook pictures to Google+ using Google Chrome

How to upload iPhone photos to Google+

General tips and tricks on using Google+

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