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Digital Lifestyles

Google+: The Modular Social App

Google+ cannot be mentioned without comparisons to Facebook, which is unfortunate because as soon as something is touted as being better than “example media sensation” it seems to act as a strike against it.Think of all those films in the early 2000s that described itself as “better than the Matrix!” or any product that was termed “the iPhone killer.”

Instead, I’ll speak from personal experience. I attempted to manage my Facebook account to be my central “public identity” to interact with personal friends (many via my various tangential hobbies and interests,) family, business contacts, and fellow artists. I tried complex friend lists and constant adjustment and manipulation of privacy options. But it was a constant fight to fit a square peg into a round hole. Facebook constantly changes and updates its interface, often destroying my work and my privacy settings. Eventually, I gave up and made a “Fan Page” of my artwork and limited my personal account only to my friends.

Google+ is everything that I wanted Facebook to be. Through Circles, Google+ allows you to control who sees your posts and give you the power to address specific markets. This creates an environment based on content instead of how many “friends” you have. In addition to abetter quality picture sharing, this makes it especially attractive to artists. Each Circle can be created for a target audience. One can be created to share their work with others for critique and review,another of client listings, another for business contacts, etc. A person can also be a member of multiple Circles. This addresses the many problems having a single public stream such as: fears of some friend or family member bursting in with an unprofessional comment, a“Wall” for people to post inappropriate or spam material onto, or being hidden or dropped for posting content that the “friend” isn’t interested in.

Writer Mike Elgan elegantly summed it up as:
“Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to write a blog post now,’ or ‘I’m going to send an e-mail’ or ‘I think I’ll tweet something’ you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.
If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.
If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.
If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.
If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.
I’d say this is pretty revolutionary.”

Note: Google+ is currently available as an app for the iPhone andAndroid. Unfortunately, it is limited to showing just one stream.Hopefully future updates will include narrowing to specific

By Alicia Vogel

Al is a martial arts instructor who happens to also be a 6'4" armadillo. His day job is manager to the university internet cafe "Javadillos." ...Aikido Al is the nom de plume of Alicia Vogel. Born to a classical composer father and a singer/painter mother, it was foreordained that she would run towards the artistic side of life. This translated itself into a major in advertising design and sculpture, followed by graduate studies in digital art and graphics. With her master's degree in hand and a passion to fill empty spaces with cool looking stuff, she started a web comic about an Armadillo who taught Aikido in Japan, called Aikido Al. The comic ran for a year and a half. Alicia currently works as the Lab Manager for the University of Texas College of Communication, and as a freelance digital artist and cartoonist.