Yesterday my Google+ invite came through after someone kindly invited me earlier in the week - these things take time. This post is on my initial thoughts on using Google+
Before getting onto Google+ the only knowledge I had was from watching the demonstration video's and certain users views from podcasts like TwiG. This was probable a mistake as these guys are the Google fan boys and give an impression that it's great but I'll come back to the difference between them and us 'normal' users. The impress I got was I could find and join a circle/hangout - how wrong could I be - VERY!!!
So I logon Google+ for the first time and I'm presented with a blank canvas consisting of just me and a message from the kind soul who invited me. So lets find a circle to join, first problem met, there are no 'public' circles, you have to create your own circle and find people to add to it - they'll know they're in your circle but not what circle it is. If you're from the Twitter wealm think of a circle as a Twitter list which can't be shared, so rather than one person doing all the hard work curating a circle that can be shared, with G+ everyone has to create their own in the vain hope that everyone is roughly having the same Circles.
To start with I've created a Circle called Locals - South Lakes, Cumbria, England and using names from Twitter added 11 people with Google+ accounts (you search in real names not nicknames), so I've been using it for nearly 24hrs now and between the 12 of us in my circle we've conversed between each other zero times. This may lie a problem for ordinary users like me, I think you're going to have to have alot of people in your circle to get to the point of finding out whether it's going to be useful for anything. You could say twitter on occasions is the same, alot goes on during the day but once midnight comes everyone turns into a punkin and all goes quiet till the morning.
So why have the likes of Leo Laporte's TwiG clan taken to it so easily compared to Joe Public (you and I), well they've got the advantage to being able to quickly create a network of circles just by adding well known people from tech and as this network listen to shows like TwiG then Leo's Clan are invited into the right circles so they're able to get the most out of what Google+ is offering. For Joe Public we have to do alot of work upfront to just tip the surface to what Google+ has to offer and there maybe easier non Google ways of achieving the same goals for certain people.
So far I have 40 people in my circles and my feeling of Google+ is like it's just Buzz 2.0, I can see alot of newbies losing interest and sticking with Twitter and/or Facebook, too much effort if needed to hunt out other people you think maybe of interest and create circles for them. Then when you have a starting point the next difficulty is turning your one way messages into a two way conversion both in written form and in a hangout.
For me the only part I could see being useful is the hangout feature for discussing certain topics between upto 10 people via webcam, for example at work I use a suite of applications known as SAP Business Objects, there is a very good forum called BOB Forums for post requests for help regarding the application or helping others in written form. I think it would be good to have a Business Objects hangout for occasions when it makes sense to discussion face to face rather than through a long winded post thread. At the moment I trying to see if I can find a way to make this work - this maybe a long road as I'm having to try and set it up by posting in BOB Forums ask people to come and find me on Google+ - if Google was to allow people to setup public Circles then this would be a lot easier, all that would be need is for me to point people to the public circle.
I've seen this sort of hangout type activity happen very successful and easily using a combination of Twitter and TinyChat. It's a simply a case of tweeting everyone in a Twitter list asking them to join a TinyChat session.
My Initial Opinion - Google+ = Buzz 2.0
Improvements Needed - Public Circles