I think that it might be down to the fact that I’ve been using Google+ for a few weeks now, that I’ve only just realised how little I’ve actually used it.
Sure, I’ve been sharing as much as I can, especially when it comes to shamelessly plugging my own blog posts, but the +1 feature is really all that’s grabbed me about the service. Circles, I suppose, have been useful so far, but I don’t imagine them becoming particularly important to me as a user until more people I want to add as a friend or simply to follow join the new social experience.
I’m not the only person that seems to think that Google+ has some issues in need of addressing, or certainly rethinking, at any rate. As far as I’m aware, the service is still in beta, and will be until the end of this month – only a few days away now.
But upon Google+’s release to the rest of the masses, will Google have spruced anything up to improve the service and how it works? My main issue is the use of Sparks, or should I say, the misuse of Sparks, as I haven’t touched it, other than once, when I initially signed up. When I realised that it wasn’t as brilliant as Google had made out, I swiftly cut myself off from it.
What I really want is a nice, perfect list of interesting articles about things I’m interested in. However, what I’m being given is not enough to satisfy that need. When I type in a certain phrase, for example, books, I get posts about cookbooks, religion, finance – none of which I’m interested in to the point of wanting regular updates about them.
If I am to become more specific about my interests, such as typing in fiction, I still don’t really get anything like the refined results I’m expecting. Obviously it’s completely unreasonable to expect Google to know exactly what type of fiction I’m interested in, but I was led to believe that the idea behind Sparks was going to make finding everything I want to read about easy and pretty much completely done for me. At this rate, I’ll spend ten minutes scrolling through articles with disinterest, until I find one that might be remotely interesting. If I wanted to do this, I’d just search for the one specific book I was interested in. Let’s try that, actually.
So I typed in Eragon, and the results returned were slightly better. Although there was the occasional post for the trailer of them movie adaptation (which is both several years old, and very very bad), there is some information about the author at Comic-Con, amongst other news items.
What have we learned from this experience? Well, nothing that you probably didn’t already know, but the important points are these:
- Google+ Sparks is actually harder to use than a standard search engine or an RSS feed.
- It requires a ridiculous amount of specificity.
- It’s unlikely that, even if you’ve provided said specificity, you’re going to hit gold with every single article you’re given.
- You should probably not use Sparks until Google have given it a major overhaul.
But don’t get me wrong – I’m really enjoying Google+. If you want to, you can add me to your Circles, or if you’re still waiting for an invite and can’t wait until July 30th (when I believe the wider release begins), you can email me for an invite – just check the Contact page for my email address. Hopefully then you can help me come to a conclusion about Hangouts, which I’m yet to try out…