Topic 1. Google+: Are you using it? What do you think?

by Jacqueline Windh

Hello everyone, welcome to our very first discussion topic, and thanks for checking in. If you haven’t already checked out our ABOUT page, please take a look to see what this site is all, well… about!

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Today Writers Discuss our experiences with the new social network Google+.
To start things off, I’ll first link to a few references about Google+, then put out a few discussion points. Feel free to follow one of my leads, or to take things off in a completely new direction.

This discussion will be open until September 15, 2011.

Google+: The Complete Guide

Debbie Ohi’s GOOGLE+ GUIDES & TIPS FOR NEWBIES (especially writers & illustrators)

A Guide to Google+ Privacy and Information Control

Promotional Tools for Writers on Google+

Debbie Ohi’s compilation of various lists of writers and other literary people using Google+

Social networks:
There are a lot of social networks out there already. Although I’ve avoided Facebook because I never was comfortable with their ever-changing privacy policies, I know there are a lot of writers on Facebook. And on Twitter (which I do love!).

So, what do you think? Do we actually need another yet social network? Or does Google+ offer something new?

Google+ vs. Facebook:
Google+ is a direct competitor to Facebook – so I’m really curious to hear from the people who are on both. How do the two compare? What do you like, or not like, about Google+ compared to Facebook?

Are you avoiding GooglePlus because Facebook is already working with you? Or are you thinking of ditching Facebook now?

Putting all of your eggs in the Google basket:
Google uses the fact that everything they do is integrated – all linked together – as a selling point. To me, that is actually a worry. I don’t want everything to be linked together – because that means if one goes down, everything goes down.

What do you think? Do you like the fact that you can integrate everything under the Google umbrella? Or do you think that is too risky?

Terms of service for content creators (i.e., us!)
OK, this is the one that I am most worried about. For me, the big issue about Google+ is that, by signing up for the service, although we retain copyright to our work, we hand over to Google “perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive” rights to “reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute” our content.

Although this is more of a worry for photographers and illustrators (who are more likely to post samples of their work online) it is something that we writers should be aware of too. Our words are our content.

According to this article, Google+ Outs the Fox in Henhouse by Steve Rosenbaum, we should be worried about the Google+ Terms of Service because we lose control of our work: Google can use it in almost any way they want.

However, according to others, e.g. How I Evaluate Terms of Service for Social Media Web Sites – Google+ by photographer Jim M. Goldstein, these Terms of Service are necessary for Google to be able to reproduce any content online (which is what any social media site does:  broadcasts our content).

So… what do you think of this? Did you even read the Terms of Service before signing on? Or is that what is keeping you from signing on? Do you think that we writers, as content creators, should be concerned here?

I look forward to the discussion! What is your experience with Google+?