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Google + A Real Life Social Network Story

Over a year ago Paul Adams who was then the user research lead for social at the Google UX team told a story in a power point presentation at SlideShare of the evolution of Google + . The story of a little girl Debbie and how she has several different circle of friends and family with whom she can share and talk on varied topics without opening her life to all.
The circle was born out of such brainstorming at UX. Even then Google+ was devised as a social networking site based on the perceived drawbacks of Facebook. Adams said that this not a criticism of the rival network but was rather an evolutionary process and a fundamental change in architecture of how people will use the web in future. Nobody knew then why Adam was so diplomatic about Facebook.

Adams quit Google to join arch rival Facebook a few months later in Christmas following a year of high profile and key departures to Zuckerberg’s camp from Google. By the end January major changes were offing at Google after Eric Schmidt’s repeated failure to break the Facebook stranglehold of Social Media. In came youth with co-founder Larry Page deciding to step in as CEO and creating the base for an all out turf war with Facebook for dominating the social media. The cast was being set since long. Now Google + has been launched as a project not a product. Why?
Simply because Debbie’s circle is only the first step of a long list of features listed by Adams in his PPT presentation that has fetched 713737 views till now and still counting. The 160 slide presentation gives a literal blueprint of how Google wants to map, learn and assist the growth in social media and lead it to increased interaction and conversation.

How it wants to publicly protect privacy but actually encourage the ‘bare it all’ phenomenon by urging the human instinct to let loose inhibitions and try become a celebrity in her chosen and pre-selected circle. Blending the personal image building with some crafty advertising from top selling brands Google wants to layer the online social life of a person with her choice of products and friends to create a unique mix of people activity and commerce. How is this different from Facebook?

While the current model of Facebook is probably the stone age art of ‘social media based commerce’, the Google Plus model is its refinement to script and beyond. The Google plus project looks truly evolutionary, but whether it will have the punch and power to eclipse Facebook or even restrict its growth before its 2012 IPO remains to be seen.

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