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Google+ adds to mad world of networking.

If the definition of insanity is attempting to do the exact same thing over and over and hoping to get a different result, then we need to start rounding up everyone and anyone involved in the development of social networks.

For example, if Google thought that launching its new social network would result in something that doesn't look and act almost exactly like Facebook, then a cadre of big burly men with straight-jackets should be on their way to Mountain View right now.

Well, I don't care what you've heard, but Google+ ( is not Facebook without the Facebook. It's exactly what Facebook would be like if that social network was populated with nothing, but Google employees, public relation nut jobs, geeks and, arguably the most whiney and argumentative of the lot, tech journalists. You can't swing a dead lolcat in Google+ without hitting another tech journo.

Can we now stop pretending that any new social network will result in anything other than what we already know? Please let the record officially show that the online world is filled with attention-seeking media gals, griefers and trolls. As evidence, we can offer a record of non-stop stupidity from Facebook, SecondLife, Digg, MySpace, World of Warcraft (and any other MORPG that you can think of), FriendFeed, Twitter and the ever growing list of social networks that just did not catch on, except among the lunatic fringe.

Epic failures

So why would Google decide to voluntarily jump into this Arkham Asylum? Simply, advertisers think they can make money off of the legions of crazies who flock to social networks, who they kindly refer to as their "audience." Oh, and because their previous attempts to tap this market with original, intelligent concepts (see: Buzz and Wave) were epic failures. It was time to crazy-up, and how better to do this than to one-up Facebook, and I mean that literally. 1+ is exactly the phrase (icon, whatever) Google uses to promote material in the network.

Google+ certainly has improved the privacy options, although I laugh every time someone complains about "the circles." For those of you who haven't yet received your Golden Ticket, the circles are a GUI (you're kidding, right? Go look it up. I'll wait) that make it possible to quickly and easily sort out who gets to see EoAC" or more importantly, who doesn't get to see EoAC" the stuff you post online. Facebook has a similar privacy option, but very few of the people I spoke to this week seemed to know this. Probably because Facebook's version on circles involved drilling down into the options, followed by hours of fun as you configure the privacy options on all 500 of your so-called friends. It is simply easier and less agonising to post something and apologise later to anyone you offended.

Some parts of Google+ are a serious letdown, so far. Their Data Liberation option, which sounds very cool, lets you export your Google+ account info before you wise up (or meltdown) and delete everything. It seems nice in concept, but in reality it's pretty boring and probably unnecessary. I already have my photos backed up, and the last thing I want to see is a history of my friends' post. Don't get your hopes up, though, as I did.

When I saw there was a way to view my Google data, I thought this might be a chance to view a digital version of my secret CIA/KGB/Mossad/HYDRA/fearful-organisation-of-your choice file. It isn't, unless that secret file shows that said organisation just couldn't be bothered to give a damn about you.

What I keep hearing most about Google+ is its potential, at which point I can't help but hear my high school guidance counselor harping at me for not living up to mine. Lucky for me I went into journalism, because not living up to our potential is the industry motto, unless you work for News of the World and you showed a propensity for wiretapping.

Unconnected options

However, in Google's case, what they mean is that there are a lot of, as yet, unconnected options. Image a social network with VoiP built-in, the ability to collectively handle and edit documents, IP-based email, blogging tools and a dedicated video storage site. Google already has all these, and there is no reason to think the company won't integrate its existing suite of web products into Plus. That just sounds wonderful on paper, doesn't it?

Yep, in an online universe of crazy people, we're going to add the ability to record video and voice. Of course, the real fun starts when Google+ starts letting the inmates invite the rest of you in, and we can all share in the mass pandemonium of having our group video conference broadcast to the world because of some underachiever though no one would ever guess he or she uses Password1. All we need now is for someone to invite digital lithium.



Social networksEoACA of the past

n Live Journal EoAC" launched in 1999 as a virtual community and blog hosting site. In 2009, operations where moved to Russia. The site lists almost 31 million accounts, although less than 2 million are reportedly active.

n Friendster EoAC" launched in 2002, this was the precursor to MySpace. In May, the site became a social gaming network.

n Friendfeed EoAC" started by ex-Googlers, this site launched in 2007 and was designed as a mega-social network that aggregated updates and links from all of a users other external accounts. Most people really never seemed to get the point.

n Orkut EoAC" Google's first social network, launched in 2004. Still popular in Brazil.

n MySpace EoAC" Bought by News Corp in 2006 for $580 million. Sold by News Corp. in 2011 for $35 million to investors that included Justin Timberlake.



Famous crazy people

Some say there is a fine line between genius and insanity. has a great list of seven EoACAyeccentric' geniuses who were clearly just insane.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 9, 2011
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