Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Will the Google+ Project Mean for Genealogy?

Google announced their Google+ project today - see a news article here and the Google+ page here.  There is a short overview with several short videos here.

The short summary is that Google+ is:

"Sharing is a huge part of the web, a part that we think could be a lot simpler. That’s why we’ve been working on adding a few new things to Google: to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with them in the real world. We hope you like what we’ve cooked up so far. And stay tuned, because there’s more to come. "

The basic elements of Google+ include:

*  Circles - "You share different things with different people. But sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself, just like real life. "

*  Sparks - "Remember when your Grandpa used to cut articles out of the paper and send them to you? That was nice. That’s kind of what Sparks does: looks for videos and articles it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something to watch, read, and share. Grandpa would approve. "

*  Hangouts - "Bumping into friends while you’re out and about is one of the best parts of going out and about. With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time. Let buddies know you’re hanging out and see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until we perfect teleportation, it’s the next best thing. "

*  Huddles - "Texting is great, but not when you’re trying get six different people to decide on a movie. Huddle takes care of it by turning all those different conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone gets on the same page long before thumbs get sore. "

*  Instant Upload - "Taking photos is fun. Sharing photos is fun. Getting photos off your phone and on to the web is pretty much the opposite of fun. That’s why we created Instant Upload: so that from now on, your photos upload themselves. You don’t even have to say ‘cheese’. "

What does all of this mean for genealogy?  Is this going to be "the next big social media thing" for the world, and for genealogy, or is it going to be a "flash in the pan" that fizzles out after several months? 

I'm betting on the former - I think that it's going to be Google's answer to Facebook, and that many genealogy researchers will adopt using Google+ for their circles of friends.  More importantly, genealogy societies and family associations will use it to change the way that the organizations communicate with their members.

I can visualize societies using Google+ by:

*  Using Circles to communicate with members.
*  Using Sparks to provide genealogy news and interesting articles with members.
*  Using Hangouts for chats between two or more members on a subject of interest.
*  Holding virtual board meetings in a Huddle.

How do you visualize using Google+?

Access to Google+ is limited at present, so we don't have an inside look at it except through the online videos.  Stay tuned! 

The URL of this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2011/06/what-will-google-project-mean-for.html

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website (other than through an RSS feed), then they have stolen my work.


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Great summary, Randy. Thanks for getting it out there early! ;-)

Kim Cotton said...

Thanks for summarizing. The biggest barrier for a social network is getting people to sign up. Google has a head start with many already claiming gmail accounts though that's no assurance of success. They also are pretty bad at follow-through (news archives or buzz are great examples). But it's been hard to get the less tech-savvy generations to sign up for facebook much less the tech behemoth of google so I suspect that until the younger folks dump facebook altogether (myspace, anyone?), google will be fighting an uphill battle. They should also consider a way to transition data from facebook over to google+ but I doubt we'll see that.
Regardless, I've added my email to list for the next round of invites, so hopefully we'll all be able to check out how it works in reality compared to theory soon enough.

Lineagekeeper said...

Talking to folks in a Google+ Circle is fantastic. Research teams, friends, family, etc., will find it to be the handiest tool since sliced bread. Create groups and invite your group members to join in the video conversations.

Sparks immediately invites exploration of ideas, links, et al as folks in you groups make "seed" postings.

Instant Uploads automatically scales your photo and video uploads creating thumbnails in addition to the full image view that can be shared with a click or a flick.

It looks like privacy controls are pretty well designed and dramatically easier and more intuitive than Facebook.

With HTML5 coding, the annoying and frequently problem plagued Flash, etc., problems are eliminated.

Google learned a TON from the problems in Wave and Buzz and have avoided them in Google+.

Bottom line ... You'll find me on Google+ day in and day out but only occasionally on Facebook during the week.