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The New Apple vs. PC: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Google+ Beta

I’ve been making this case from the middle ground for a while now: What we have here is an up and coming “battle” of social networking sites that will ultimately hinge on people’s personal preference, ability to be influenced by the masses, and even driven by their discontent with the competing technology. Or, to put it another way, this is our new “Beta vs. VHS” or “PC vs. Apple”..etc..etc..etc. So, I would tend to agree that in today’s society, with the backing of a 24 hour news cycle and mass media available via the internet, Google will make a solid showing in the first round.

However, I will also argue that something different IS taking place right now; Google is showing everyone what a Beta SHOULD look like. (Least we forget we’re currently looking at a live beta and NOT the final product.) Google is taking feedback like it’s going out of style, directly engaging individuals who comment, and making changes in a fast paced, agile format. This is mind blowing by comparison of how facebook and other developers typically drop an update or new product and simply expect their customers to accept it on first sight. (Facebook and Microsoft love this business model and accept nothing but grief even from their most loyal consumers when something simply doesn’t work well.)

Love it or hate it, there is a lot to be seen and learned from here. The question remains “who will come out on top,” “what will kill what,” and so forth, however I think the best lessons to be learned from the current beta is how you actively engage end users for the benefit of your application/tool/etc.

I’m also growing wary of the standard “Google is out to misuse all of our personal data,” or “hackers will steal everything now that Google has placed it all in a single place,” story. As I’ve stated, multiple times in the last few days, this is a tad unbalanced. For if anyone thinks that Facebook and Microsoft don’t attempt to do the same type of things by correlating all our different “data” in some way, they are living in the land of make believe. All of these companies are out to make money, and having access to a combination of your “data” helps them in creating and/or selling targeted advertising. These are after all, businesses.. Like most things on the internet it is up to the end user to conduct their own risk management of their digital lives, the only thing that seperates Facebook, Google, etc from one another is what tools they provide you to do this via access control, etc. (and to be frank, Google has done a pretty good job with G+ offering us multiple ways to provide or restrict access to our “google lives”..however, by default Google does make everything public..so be aware action is required.)

That all being said, for all nay sayers of folks that rather blog non-stop about the evils or things they dislike about Google+, why don’t you take your efforts and focus on providing that feedback directly to Google? As mentioned this is a BETA and they are LISTENING. Novel concept, I know..

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

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