The Benefits of Google +

Last week I attended my first google + hangout and found it to be a really interesting networking and collaboration tool.  Myself and about 6 other writers from Tech Writer Today Magazine (Tech Whirl) met for a video conference call to discuss the upcoming Writers UA conference and March story ideas. Some of the main features that will benefit users both personally and professionally are as follows:

Video Chatting: The video chatting feature is very similar to skype.  It displays all of the user’s webcam video windows at the bottom of the page and each time a person speaks, it automatically moves their video window up to the top front-and-center.  It then automatically switches back and forth between people’s videos as they talk.

Simultaneous Document Sharing/Editing: During the meeting, we shared a text document and were able to simultaneously edit it. Each person’s cursor and edits were color-coded, had their name above it, and were displaying in real-time.  Very cool.

Integration with Google+ Circles:All of the google applications are fully integrated with one another.  Google+, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, etc are all connected.  You can send a google+ hangout invite to someone’s gmail, they can accept, put it on their google calendar, attend the hangout, and connect with all the participants in google+ and add them to their circles.  Circles are the best part about Google+, and largely the main appeal of the site.  We already naturally compartmentalize the various social groups and aspects of our lives, so why not do it in our web interactions as well?  Circles allow you to filter what you post to different circles of people (work colleagues, friends, family, etc).  It also allows you to view the news feed of the circles individually or all at once.

Google is quickly emerging as the one-stop-shop in communication and collaboration tools (and it’s free too!).  Between gotomeeting, skype, and google+ hangouts, people can communicate, collaborate, and share ideas easily and seamlessly.  Each of the writers in the hangout were spread out all over the country and were able to sit and chat as if we were all sitting in the same room.

Google+ was originally a posh, invitation-only social network that thought it was better than everyone else, but now it has come off of its high horse and accepts all users with open arms.  A lot of people were skeptical of it when it first came out, saying “I already have a Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, I don’t need another social networking site,” but now I think more people and companies have seen the benefits of using it.

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