Wondering where I have been? Well, I have a good excuse for my blogging absence (besides the regular life stuff of making our way to Ocean City and the holiday weekend). I have been playing on Google+ (Google’s new social networking platform).

Now, joining a new social media site might not sound like it should be all that distracting..after all, I am already on Facebook, use Twitter occasionally, have my photos up at Smugmug, I post to my blog, read tons of blogs via my feedreader, and use tools for keeping track of information such as Evernote, Instapaper and Pinterest. I even just started logging my books over at Goodreads.  I am fairly plugged in.

But I have to admit that I have really been sucked in by Google+. It is still in a “trial mode” and is not officially open to everyone (you have to get an invite to get in and they keep opening and closing the invite windows). There are still a few kinks that they are working out and some things have not been fully implemented (no businesses or organizations yet). Yet despite all this, I find that I have not been this excited about social media since I discovered how I could connect with my friends on Facebook.

Here are a few posts about what Google+ is.

What I find that is drawing me in is the flexibility and the comprehensiveness. Google+ is making it much easier to juggle my public online stuff and my more personal online stuff. The lines between Facebook, Twitter, blogging, sharing, status updates, email, public and personal seem to be getting easier to navigate and not quite so disjointed.

I can use Google+ to connect with friends like Facebook. I can follow interesting people I don’t know very well like on Twitter. Posts have no character limits, so in many ways it is like following blogs in your feed reader. But here is the kicker…I have complete control over who gets to read what I post. I can share publicly, to circles or individually. I have complete control over how I use circles and who gets to be in them (people only know if I have them in a circle, they don’t know what the circle is named or what I post or don’t post to to it).

The tricky thing for me about Facebook is that it is either all or nothing. If I accept a friend request, they get access to all my posts and other information. There is no (easy) way to filter things. Which for some friends, that is fine. But for others not so much. I have friends who may or may not want to hear my political ramblings. Or my homeschool ramblings. Or friends who I know little about who found me through my blog.

For the most part, I am fine with all this. There has been some interesting benefit of “mixing” all my friends…my non-homeschool friends have learned more about what we homeschoolers do, my more recent friends have been treated to pictures of me posted by my high school and college friends. And some of the folks I have met through my blog have become good friends.

But sometimes, it would be nice to have a bit more separation. Not complete separation, but maybe just a little more of an ability to fine tune things. To decide maybe this message should go to one group and this message can go to all. That is what Google+ gives you. Plus more.

Moving people in and out of circles is a not only a great way to manage what you share, but also a wonderful mechanism for meeting and getting to know people better. I can put someone in my “following” circle to get to know them a little bit better (they of course, only let me see what they want me to see by choosing what circles to put me in). As I get to know them better, I can move them to different circles as I want to. Much less commitment than on Facebook where you either have to “friend” or “defriend” people. Seems a bit gentler too.

And I have to admit that the left-brained, geeky side of me is loving the whole circle thing…you can make them as simple (friends, family, other) or as complicated (some folks are using numbers and decimals to order them and create pseudo-sub circles) as you want. Add as many circles as you want. Rename them any time. Add as many people as you want (ok, so there is a 5,000 person limit during the trial…I think I should be ok.) It really is a lot of fun.

So that is where i have been lately. If you are already on Google+, be sure and come find me!

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