Google+ — the missing manual

Author:  Kevin Purdy
Publisher: O’Reilly

When I picked up O’Reilly’s book in their missing manual series on Google+, I was interested in getting an overview of Google+, how it works, what it is useful for, and why I would want to add Google+ to my arsenal of social media tools. The book did not disappoint me in delivering on my expectations.

As a web designer, clients ask me for my opinions on the various social media tools out there. I don’t need to embrace each of them but I should know enough to formulate an opinion. This book helped me do so.

It goes through the basics of Google+. What it is. How it works. How to get started with it. So I used the steps to set up my own account.  If you have an email account with Gmail or use any of Google’s services that require you to log in, you can use that same account to set up your Google+ account. Otherwise you can go through the easy steps to set up an account.

I like the structure of Google+ and various features in it. For example, I think of my friends and associates as circles of people rather than Facebook’s various levels of friends. Google+ thinks that way too. With Google+ I can have a circle of people which are family, another one for business associates, another one for computer user group people, etc. Some of those circles have overlapping people which is just fine with Google+. It just seems that Google+ works in ways that I do, rather than trying to make me “like” everyone as friends (yes, I don’t necessarily “like” everyone I know and view them as close friends <gasp!>). But I do have circles of people. And the people in my business sphere don’t care to see my posting to family members and my niece in Florida probably doesn’t care about my upcoming business events in Connecticut.

Like most other social media, Google+ suggests that I give them access to my entire contact list so they can try to match me up with others. Nope, I don’t do that for G+, Facebook or any of the others. One of the things that impressed me about Facebook and LinkedIn when I first signed up, was their ability to take 3-4 of my “friends” and feed me a constant string of suggested others that I should befriend. But Google+ just suggested that unless I filled my circles with friends, I’d be mighty lonely. And they were correct. My circle still stands at a hand-full of people.

As you might notice, this is a review of the book as well as of Google+. So to summarize, the book is excellent. If you want to get up to speed on setting up Google+, this book will take you through the steps to do so. It is easy reading while being very thorough. My first impression of Google+ is not quite as enthusiastic though. If you want to use Google+, be sure to bring along your own circle of people who are also on Google+. Otherwise, be prepared to find yourself looking around like the first arrivals at the picnic wondering where everyone else is. I hope Google’s ability to turn their ideas into gold will work with Google+ because I like the structure of it. I just don’t like to be first at the picnic!

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