Hanging out with Google+

Over the past few weeks I’ve caught @Sorgatron and friends in a Google+ Hangout. At first I thought the experience was “meh,” but after using it a few times I’ve come to understand how cool it is.

How Cool?

First off it is incredibly easy to use. There is a plugin that you need to install but the process is painless. After that step starting or joining a Hangout is as simple as a click. I was in a few rooms with multiple people who were coming and going. There was no lag and surprisingly no feedback when using on board speakers and microphone.

Another great feature is watching YouTube in line with the group chat.  Anyone can initiate a YouTube video and then the audio switches to a walkie-talkie mode, presumably to handle audio feedback, and everyone watches the video at the same time. What a great way to capture all your friends faces of two girls one cup at the same time (too soon?).

I’ve been told the limitation to a single hangout is 10 people. I wonder if there is a way to have passive viewers once the video chat fills up. Could be a great seamless way to handle conference calls in the future.


The Facebook Strikes Back

Ever since I’ve been using Google+ I’ve wondered how long until Facebook does something to copy or simplify their network. In an article from Fast Company, earlier this year (I think this one), I read that Google doesn’t set out to take over other markets with their side projects. Rather they intent to keep pressure in different areas to increase competition and prevent companies from becoming stagnate and force innovation. Android and Chrome are good examples of this type of Google project and now Google+ can be added to the list.

If you think about it this approach makes a lot of sense for Google. Forcing the rest of the world to keep up with your or become lost in the pace of industry is very profitable for Google. They want people to have better access to the web all the time. So if modern browsers or Mobile OS start to suck then people may use the web less and search less. Because all roads online cross at Google somewhere.

So, Google+ is a new player in the social network realm and Facebook is already responding. In a partnership with Skype you can now do video chat in Facebook. Although in my limited experience it wasn’t as smooth as the Hangout. Also I don’t know if you can have multiple people in the same chat or if there is a Skype membership option like the regular service.

Googling Yourself, Non-Narcissist Edition

In two conversations I’ve had yesterday about Google the issue of search results about “you name” have been trending topics. I feel confident saying that most of the PodCamp Pittsburgh community knows how to influence search results on their name. If not a comprehensive technical understanding at least a “If I blog, I will rank” sensibility.

For the non-internet among us, which probably includes most of our friends, family and coworkers, understanding how search results come in, is like me saying Spectral Procession is one of my top 10 magic cards. Over the past month I’ve had a handful of people asking me how to influence their search. From those interested in ranking better to those who are worried about the “slutty” girl’s Facebook profile ranking higher than their own link, people don’t know the first thing about search rank.

So this brings two questions to mind:

1. How important is it to manage your search results?

I think this question is important to understand because (I’ll use @pcpgh as the bar) most of the PodCamp community is going to rate the importance a 9 out of 10 most of the time. However for those around us who don’t live online why should they care. Their name might not even rank in the top 5 pages of a google search, and if it does it might just be a newspaper mention or college graduation list. Bran Strom, superman that he is, doesn’t get a link about him until page 8, unless you search for “Brian Strom Pittsburgh.” However if you search for Norman Huelsman this blog ranks first and if you search for “Huelsman” this blog also ranks first (thanks to everyone who links to me with keywords Norman Huelsman). I beat out every other Huelsman in the country even those who are businesses. But, I live online and have a rather large digital footprint compared to those other namesakes. My point is, how important is it to manage¬† your search results if you don’t live and breathe online? (@rebelliousflaw I’m looking at you to blow our minds with your sleuthing skills)

2. What are you doing to educate those around you about search?

And this question doesn’t need a long explanation, but here is one anyway. I ask because if we determine that question #1 is important then educating those around us should be a priority. Now I don’t think there was a session on managing search results for your name at PodCamp, but there were lots of sessions about how to get rank for your website. Whenever I get the question about influencing search I always tell people it is easy, “If I blog, I rank.” The other option is to get @woycheck to scrub you from the internet.