From my first days in Google+, I saw a lot to like. I felt that the system was very intuitive, and loved the style of communication on this network. True, it’s likely due to the mix of people in my circles so far, but the additional length allowed in comments seems to be encouraging more thoughtful conversations than I’ve seen on the other social networks.
Where I saw the most potential though was in the circles, and how it feels like I may be able to create a setup that balances my desire to keep in touch with family and friends while maintaining a clean environment for professional networking. To test out this setup though, I had to do what so many commentators consider the unthinkable – I sent my mom a Google+ invite.
As I live about 2,000 miles away from my family, I rely heavily on social media to keep in touch with everyone. Over the years, Mom and I have tried out a few video chat clients, but we have been pretty limited in our success. My main computer is a netbook running Ubuntu, so we have problems finding video chat services that will run on my computer and be easy for family to use. With Google+, we both just had a plugin download before we could get started. The fact that hangouts allow more than two parties is an asset for us, or at least it will be if we ever get my brothers and other family members to join.
As much as some people value new social networks as places without family, I felt that this was what Google+ needed for me. Until Mom joined, I had a few good interactions with professional contacts, but G+ is otherwise way too quiet. The network is in that awkward growing stage when there’s not quite enough activity for people to check in and participate regularly. But now that Mom and I have our video chats conveniently located in the service, I know that I will be there much more often.
As a friend posted on Google+ last week, “Are we gonna get to critical mass in Google+? I kind of keep forgetting it exists.” To which I replied, “I got my mom to sign up, so I’ve done my part.”