Here at the Big Bad Blog, we are probably the very last website in the world to mention that Missouri is banning Student-Teacher friendships on Facebook. What we do not think has been pointed out is exactly how silly the law actually is. From PC Magazine:
Buried within the law, however, is a provision that effectively eliminates private social relationships between students and teachers on any of the Web’s many social networks. Missouri school districts are required to develop written policies to address the “appropriate use of electronic media” by the start of 2012, which must include guidelines for social network use.
“Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian,” reads the law. “Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”
Here are a few examples of things that will happen:
Well done, Missouri. Here at the Big Bad Blog, we are convinced that you will prevent children who need help from accessing good teachers who care. Somehow we do not think that any of this will keep predators from the vulnerable ones, though.
Here at the Big Bad Blog, we were lucky enough to snag one of those early invitations to Google’s new social network. While we don’t think the invitation was given with our blogging in mind, we would be remiss if we did not give our first impressions of it.
We like it.
We like it better than Twitter. We like it better than Facebook. And — if others take to it, we will likely end up abandoning these services for the world of Google.
Google Plus is like Twitter.
The core functionality of each service is to allow for short status messages, readable by others on the service who follow the user. Following another person on the service is not symmetric – that is to say, there is no need to follow somebody back. Any public postings by a person are visible to anybody who follows them.
Google Plus has several advantages over Twitter:
Of course, Twitter does have some aspects that Google Plus lacks:
These are three things that don’t apply to us at the Big Bad Blog. We have clicked on a trend twice. Both times, we shook our head and closed the window. We didn’t stay long.
We don’t use hashtags, except as jokes. Hashtags are an ugly little piece of SEO; people begging to have people read their Tweets. They seem desperate. We are happy to use a service that doesn’t litter our stream with them.
And the “feeling of being public” is really a lie. How many non-Twitter users search through Tweets? How many people search for Tweets at all?
In the end, Google Plus performs the core Twitter functionality — it allows asynchronous following and easy public posting, without Twitter’s limitation of being a text-only medium and the forced solutions that requires. The only thing we would miss about Twitter is the forced brevity and creativity that a 140-character limit provides. Google+ probably has a limit, but so far we have been in no danger of hitting it.
Google Plus is like Facebook.
Both of them allow you to form connections with family, friends, nearly-forgotten acquaintances, and even strangers. You can then share with those people the minutiae of your life, photos of your dog, and all 225 out-of-focus photos that you took at the bar last night and then posted to the Internet without even checking whether or not any of them were good first.
Just like with Twitter, Google Plus outperforms Facebook at its own game.
Of course, Facebook has several things that Google doesn’t have … yet(?).
Here at the Big Bad Blog, we won’t miss the third-party applications. And, in fact, we hope that they stay off Google — though we might not be so lucky. We would miss the Events on moving to Google Plus, but don’t think that’s the end of the world. Plus, we feel that Google Calendar will be integrated before long, and that events will not just be available, but will sync to our phone.
Beyond the feature set, Google Plus has three main advantages that have us excited.
First, they encompass the functionality of both Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is an open system — users broadcast to the world at large, and hope somebody is listening. Facebook is a closed system — users broadcast to a bunch of people they know.
Google Plus allows both kinds of interaction. It follows Twitter’s non-synchronous pattern of Followers and Following, allowing users to broadcast publicly to anybody who is following them, or to limit their broadcast to those people they are following (or a subset of those people). The controls to do this are intuitive, easy, and quick to use. The result is that the core functionality of both Twitter and Facebook are achieved through a single service, making each of them more appealing, and the choice of where to post less of a headache.
Second, Google Plus is mobile. Yes, Twitter was based on the mobile phone SMS. Yes, Twitter has been integrated into Apple products. Yes, Facebook has mobile applications for every platform. Yes, there are phones with Facebook integration.
These things are not like what Google has. Google has built both the social network and the mobile Operating System. They own both; they can be aligned. Apple and Twitter will not always agree on how things should be done — just like Apple and Facebook have disagreed in the past. Facebook is not getting into the mobile OS game, or designing phones.
Apple and HTC having integration with these services are gimmicks and marketing ploys. Only Google will offer a truly integrated experience.
Third, Google Plus is built on Google’s existing services. Yes, there is a lot of integration left to go, but let’s not pretend that Google Plus won’t have events tied in with Google Calendar, and won’t manage to tie in Google Apps to the service. Google is more than a search company, they are a cloud computing company. They have been since Google Mail began.
Facebook? Facebook was built in 2004, as a Web 2.0 type of project — Web 2.0 being a term first coined in 1999. It is a website. It predates the iPhone by three years, and was built before anybody other than Steve Jobs was imagining a miniature computer in every pocket.
Twitter? Twitter was built in 2006, not so much as a web site, but as a web service that could function through the mobile phone SMS. That’s why you’ve got 140 characters — it’s what they could fit in a text message. When you followed somebody, you would receive a text message from Twitter when the person you were following texted Twitter. Genius.
But today, we have smart phones. And upload photos. And geotag our location. And all these things are being built on top of Twitter’s SMS-based architecture. Mobile functionality is being forced onto Facebook’s website, first conceived when the web wasn’t mobile.
Google Plus? Built in 2011, by a world leader in cloud computer and mobile Operating Systems. It’s less than a week old, but it’s already clear that it’s going to leave these services in the dust.
Google Plus is lacking one thing: people.
Right now, we’re updating twice on Google+ for every update on Facebook or Twitter (links to the blog and Flickr aside). Eventually, so the theory goes, Google+ will hit a critical mass, and we will leave Facebook and Twitter and do all our social networking on Google+.
We encourage you to switch now. We breathlessly await your arrival.
Image is XKCD by Randall Munroe.
One of the things that the Internet has been all abuzzed about (at least in the corners I visit) for most of this past week is the odd PR-smear-campaign by Facebook against Google. The odd parts, of course, being the caught-in-the-act and kettle-calling-the-pot-black aspects of the whole thing.
The article that best captures the true ramifications of this is by Steven Levy, published in Wired. I post his conclusion here:
I conclude that Facebook was running a smear campaign against itself
And who is to argue with that, really?
Assuming Google did not hack Facebook, or perform some other malicious activity (and if so, evidence please), the only reasonable argument that Facebook can make is that Google is using information that Facebook made public. It is fair to argue whether or not Google should (or should not) use this information, but the blame clearly ought to go Facebook’s way.