Still in its infancy Google+ has been the topic of many-a-tech blogposts. As a former tech-writer I love and hate this stuff. Sometimes I want to slap Mashable right in the ‘http’ and tell them to never do another “Top X Ways [name your industry professionals] Can Use [new social networking tool].” If you are curious though – here are the top five ways journalists can use Google+ courtesy of Mashable.
Equally I want to avoid speculation about Google vs. Facebook. There is already plenty of that. If a Facebook executive has a sneeze that sounds like ‘ahh-choogle’ the tech-press is all over it. I personally am not a fan of Facebook and welcome my Google+ overlords. I do have a post in me about privacy, silicon valley speculation, etc – but I don’t want to add my voice to that already loud chorus.
Instead I want to write about Google+ in terms of everyday average use. Both how journalists use the Internet and how everyday average people use the internet (assuming the later is slightly different).
Sure enough 10,000 Words (the Mashable of journalism blogging) recently did a post on the top 10 ways journalists use the Internet. This is the ENTIRE internet mind you – but the results of the study are revealing. According to research journalists use the Internet for….
1. Reading news
2. Searching for news sources/story idea
3. Social networking
6. Watching webinars/webcasts
7. Watching YouTube
8. Exploring Wikis
9. Producing/listening to podcasts
10. Social bookmarking
By rough estimate I’d say six of those activities can be encapsulated by Google+ in a way that Facebook doesn’t (partly because Facebook looks like a user-interface designer puked on the screen). One could argue with Google Hangouts you can add another one or two activities to the count and considering the network is still young, who knows where it could go.
While I won’t venture what the top 10 Internet activities are for non-journalists I suspect the majority of them are social in nature, including email (gmail having lots of penetration) and research (Google again). Now we can start to see some real Epic 2014 scariness/potential.
The real lesson here is that journalists on Google+ should keep in mind how they are using the platform and how the public might be using the platform. The two aren’t necessarily the same and all-too often we think the rest of the world uses web technology the same way we do. Whenever I want to be humbled I watch a member of my family use the computer and think to myself – ignorance is bliss.
The reason to be on Google+ isn’t because it’s the newest, hottest, sexiest thing. That might be a good reason to be on it as an individual (hard to seperate) but not why you should be on it as a journalist. You should be on these sites to understand how people are communicating and the vocabulary of this communication. Friendster informed MySpace which informed Facebook which informed Google+. If you ignore these sites you will fail to understand how a growing portion of the population deals with the flow of information and inevitably how more people will deal with this flow in the future.
If you are a journalist your JOB is to understand and insert yourself into the flow of information.