Who Will Own You(r Information) in the Future?

Facebook or Google? Where will you spend more of your time and share more of your private information?

Sarah Hill, from KOMU 8, introduced me (and a roomful of Multimedia students) to a key feature of Google+ that Facebook has not yet matched: the Hangout.

I’d heard about these things – basically extended, potentially endless large group live video chats – but had never thought about their potential application for reporting and producing. Hill likened these to a live video-truck on your phone. She pulled up a Hangout on the projector and invited contributors to KOMU’s U News show, which began this year. These contributors were based in various locations – England, Austria, Canada, the U.S. – but they were all right there on the screen with not-too-shabby video quality.

Robert Redl from Austria was nice enough to open Google+ on his iPad and his Mac to show us how you could potentially get two different angles in the same location. Bruce Garber joined the hangout and posted a YouTube video of the session.

The competition between Google+ and Facebook is a fight over consumers these two entities can bundle and sell to advertisers based on the unique information they collect about individuals.
demotivational posters - FACEBOOK & YOU

Since Facebook and Google+ are designed to do exactly the same thing, like BluRay and HD DVD or various game consoles, the winner will likely be determined by the content available on the two systems. In this case, the content is people rather than DVDs or games. It’s not like the competition between MySpace and Facebook (there were key design and functionality differences, Facebook was simply better) or Facebook and Twitter (again, key differences in utility such that some people are willing to use both). Google+ is angling to replace Facebook as the major social network. The hangout feature is part of their effort to distinguish themselves with superior functionality. Considering the random screwiness of Facebook’s chat setup, they might well be on to something there.

The biggest hurdle Google+ faces is that people are lazy. It’s a hassle to add all those people you’ve accumulated over years of Facebook use to your “circles.” It’s time consuming and tedious. Why not just keep using Facebook? Everybody still uses that network and few people have made the total transition to Google+ – most of the friends I have who were early adopters of Google+ are still actively using their Facebook pages (as I am).

For now, the wait and see approach seems best. Maintain both a Google+ account and a Facebook page. Get familiar with both. Post updates on both (Publish sync is a good Chrome app for this). Maybe it will turn out that the functionality of Google+ with the complementary social network and video-chat tools catches on and replaces Facebook. Either way, it’s likely that journalists will maintain both a Facebook, Twitter and Google+ presence to reach the widest possible online audience.

You can find me on all of these.


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