Me getting intimate with Google+

Given the fact that Google has improved on its interface design instead of its old data driven design pattern, Google’s new interface has enhanced users’ experience. Douglas Bowman leaves Google revealed the old Google lacked people who is good at design but had plenty of designers in Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) and Computer Science (CS) who design by data. Despite the old history with Google’s poor design, Google now undergone a serial of design revolution and the new Google + has definitely broadened Google’s marketing areas into social network sites (identity service).

As the last blog of my Google+ experience with the course COMU2002 (Talk and Interaction), I am going to give my own detailed analysis and experience about using Google+. As a multimedia design student, I have come across various website design and received both professional and public critics on my journey to computer based design works. My years spend with Google is approximately 7 years and have also used a number of products from Google, however, Google + is the first social network platform I have with Google.


In response to Rocky Agrawal ’s and lifebyexperimentation’s experience with Google+, first of all, Google+ just look like Facebook apart from the “popular” Circle feature. When I first join Google+, it does show me a bunch of people who I could add based on my Gmail address book, but there should be a section where they show you existing Google+ users.

Second of all, after exploring some main features, I did end up have some friends but they are not my frequent contacts since I am not using Gmail as my personal contact email address. I believe most of Google+ users end up the same situation with me — friendless. If having a social network platform without people you want to contact with, what is the point of using it or is this really just an identity service… Furthermore, as Kristin mentioned in her blog that “if you have a circle of your working colleagues or a circle of politics, it is highly unlikely that they are going to post things relating to work and politics.” If Google is such an excellent information management service, they should have making the content more organized and useful to users.

Lastly but probably the most important reason that I will not ending up using Google + is by analyzing my frequency of using different social network websites or apps on a weekly basis.

Given the fact that I have spent most of my social network time accessing other forms of social networks, there is simply no need for me to include an extra platform to separate from what I already have. If Google + decides going to act its own way in the world of social networks – meaning not integrating with other social networks, it is eventually going to lose its sparks.


Google+ and Google’s real ambition

After found out Google announced Google+ is an identity service instead of a social network site on Thursday’s seminar made me feel uncomfortable yet within my expectation. Google gives us an apple, we accepted happily; but after we ate the apple, Google told us the apple is actually just an orange wrapped with apple skin… It made me feel online users are merely just  puppets controlled by online giants like Google.

Priit Kallas from Forbes has noted that Google+’s percentage dropped from 3% in the beginning of August to 1.8% by the end of August. Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt’s announcements about Google+ is an identity service has definitely put Google into a dangerous situation thus led to a significant fall in Internet traffic. Now the “Nymwars” is really start to sparkle and the public questions Google forcing users to use real name only because they want to sell their personal information for advertising.

However, to get into more details, with my previous blog taking a stance on Google’s co-operation with the Government. If Google+ is truly being served as an identity service, each user on Google+ may be watched by authorities. Google itself saying that by promoting users use their real names is to make online community more civilized and eliminate cyberbullying. This reminds me of having cameras in public space to prevent crimes, people’s activities are being ruled and limited by engineers and politicians to achieve their version of a utopian society.

” The people who most heavily rely on pseudonyms in online spaces are those who are most marginalized by systems of power. “Real names” policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people. These ideas and issues aren’t new, but what is new is that marginalized people are banding together and speaking out loudly. And thank goodness” – Internet pundit dahah boyd.

Winston Smith kept his diary secretly, but we get to speak up and challenge the Big Brother, it is only a matter of time to win over the “Nymwars”.


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Google+: after the instant fame!?

It has been almost two months since Google first launched the trial for Google+, do people still in the rush of experiencing the latest social network? After reading through several articles about the battle between Facebook and Google +, most statistics and arguments are in favor of Google+ is not that unique and perceived an average feedback after user-testing.

(Image source here)

Based on the visual analysis provided above, which is conducted by the EyeTrackShop using eye tracking webcam technology. It has revealed the visual pattern of how online users perceived both Google+ and Facebook when they use the sites. The heat map appeared on the left-hand side image indicated the attention span of a user spends on a specific area on a site. Google+ after all, is still a social network site, it follows the identical design style/concept and user experience pattern with similar social networks. As far as I’ve concerned on this issue, the chance for Google+ to win over online users’ votes is really minimal. From Google’s history with social network sites and the popularity of Facebook, online users would most likely to keep using what they already used to, unless the new born Google+ is something really special out there. As the two visual graphs provided, it seems like Google+ does not have a bright future as we hoped when it first came out. David Lux mentioned in his article ” Perhaps Google’s design strategy was based on the old proverb – if you can’t beat them, join them”. I view David’s opinion as a criticism of lacking creative design concept in social networks’ trend.

The competition between Facebook and Google+ is a battlefield and one of them has to eventually step back because the functionality they provided as social network sites for online users are identical. It would be redundant for individuals to switch back and forth between those two networks. Before deciding which one should win the battle, the following video gives a pretty good insight of visual statistics comparison between Google+ and Facebook.

Facebook vs Google+ – “What’s Trending” CBS News from Jason King on Vimeo.

Are you ready to vote now?

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Screach for more !

With all the social network apps I came across, Screach is possibly the only one which made me exited and look forward to use. Screach is a social networking app of Screenreach, it is an interactive digital media platform which allow users to share live events, TV shows and other digital media. What it basically does, for instance if you are at a soccer game, this app will update info and players’ status for you to know before and during the game. Users can also vote for the best performance player and winning percentage for each team. You can also take a photo while you watching the game either it is in front of television or alive. These photos are then uploaded to the system and then share with other Screach users.

According to its official blog, “It’s perfect for big conferences as it is a really powerful tool for assisting with networking.” What’s even cooler with this, it would be really great to use this app for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it will be a great way to communicate with other soccer fans around the world, to vote for their favourite player in real time and share valuable moments. The closer for fans to interact with players, the better players would perform because of the personalized encouragement. With features Screach provided is going to offer valuable information and statistics from both professionals and spectators in important sports events.

The following video from NSCAA’s digital manager to walk you through how to use Screach and its main features.

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Tumblr – A better way to blog

I’ve had a Tumblr account for almost a year, but never really got to use it, and recently dug it out and noticed how Tumblr has changed in its interface and definitely enhanced social connectivity for online bloggers.

WordPress is more like a place for blog gurus where you have your own topic focused blog, whereas Tumblr seems to be a blogging platform for people who are new to blogging and the slick design is definitely something that drawn me into this. With all the social software I’ve come across by researching, Tumblr’s homepage design is my favorite. The simple layout and big buttons have improved its appearance and user-experience. Another important factor is that Tumblr offers more functions, users can customize their blog appearance, choose their own theme, post just about anything you could think of… meet up with people around you who are also using Tumblr (Meetups). Tumblr just provides a better user experience for bloggers.

With Tumblr’s explore function, both first-time users and old users are able to exploring the in Tumblr’s blogging space, to find out the top rated bloggers and popular topics. It also has integrated Google analytics and of course provide a number of third party apps for iPhone/iPad/iTouch, websites, mobile phones and desktops. The Goodies function further provides Tumblr bookmark, audio blog and their own t-shirts.

With Tumblr’s success in blogging, their design concept (layout and user-centered design) and high standard of picture resolutions made Tumblr a cosy place to hang out for bloggers. However, they seems to altered the location of certain links, which I found a bit hard to locate, for instance, with the function of Meetups and Goodies, users can only find it on the footer of the site instead on the top of the page…

It’s one of the apps that definitely worth to try and then fall in love with it:)

The failure of Google Buzz

Google Buzz was first released in early 2010, however it did not receive much attention as Google+ did. Google Buzz aims to integrate Gmail and microblogging together for users to share photos, videos, links and status messages. The time it enters the social networking market was the time twitter and Facebook are dominating the world, there is no space for Google to have a new social network which does the same thing, and with epic privacy issues when it released. The number of people who are using this is really minimal.

I’ve never used and barely heard any information about this social network. Google Buzz now has launched its own mobile phone application and now the first priority they mentioned is “Share publicly or privately.” Its iPhone application also seemed to address the privacy issue problem.

Since Google Buzz has integrated with Gmail, and despite the fact that it can share multimedia files (pretty much all social networks do now…) It is really hard for Google Buzz to win over users’ preference over a could of social networks.

The new functionality it now adds is to allow users to tag their location, which can be viewed on Google Maps. Buzz now also provide create a buzz community on Google map and allow users to send voice messages to fellow users as well.

All these features Google Buzz now seems better and has integrated with the latest social network technology, but there is one aspect I want to address about social networking applications is their brand name. Compare with Google+, Facebook or Twitter, the word “buzz” in Google Buzz is really annoying and irritates me when I heard the name, let alone use it everyday. As a potential user, I am not attracted by the sound of this social networking brand at all.

For social works, apart from functionalities, UI design and user-experience, the marketing side is also vital when establish a brand from a scratch. So if developers want their app to attract users, they’d better give them a good name.

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Tencent QQ: generation after generation – integrate all social networking features you can think of:)

Tencent QQ, generally refferred to as QQ is probably the most popular free instant messaging program in China. Just in this year, the active users reached for total 812.3million, which made it the world’s largest online community. QQ now is not only a simple messaging IM but have probably as I seen the most powerful system out there, it integrated all the social networking or sharing features a system could have, perhaps made it too powerful, which you won’t even use all of it.

QQ was founded in 1998, but I did not actually used one until late 2007. But as soon as I start using it, I found that the connection circles you could have with other users are infinitely expanding. This is web interface of QQ, which provide video chat, mails, space(Qzone),online share music, online game with other users, group discussion, news and many many more! Now it operates on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. The international official site provide more detailed information. QQ made me feel like they have everything except their own version of operating system.

The most recent QQ2011 for iPhone definitely raise discussion online. Their system now provide with video chatting and audio messaging features which similar to TalkBox.

Some think that QQ’s concept lacks originality since they always tend to use what already been released in the market. But I don’t see this as a major problem because the final decision making really is decided by users. If they are good at “stealing” ideas and then put it on their program, plus the important thing is they have achieved a relatively good job in connecting people effectively and efficiently, then it is a successful social networking program. Since QQ is originally designed for Windows System, there are still a lot more features which Mac system cannot have, which is quite annoying sometimes, their system can be a bit buggy, but if you are used to it, it’s perfectly fine to use it.

Here is a list of Tencent QQ software product, they are all free.

  1. QQ number
  2. Qzone(like MSN live Space)
  3. QQ Mail
  4. QQ Group
  5. QQ Music
  6. QQ Game
  7. QQ downloader
  8. QQ Chinese input tool
  9. Search engine
  10. QQ battlefield, a platform for online Internet gamers
  11. QQ Doctors, detect virus, etc.
  12. Tencent web browser
  13. QQ image processing software
  14. QQ dictionary
  15. QQ Live- free online internet television
  16. QQ media player
  17. QQ 3D MMORG game
  18. QQ management software
  19. QQ pet – a online community game
  20. QQ Mobile
  21. QQ game center
  22. QQ Microblogging
  23. QQ for Mac, Linux, windows, Android, iphone, and web
  24.  QQ membership service – may not be free if you want a higher level

Sorry for the long list, just wanna show how power they are 😀

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