I first heard about Google+ through a tweet a friend of mine sent out on Twitter. It went something like 'oh Google+, the more I use you, the more addicted I become', or something like that. What was this? Google+ , Google Plus? Never heard of it. There followed a couple more tweets saying how much he was enjoying this new service and my interest was most definitely piqued. I had to find out more.
What better place to start than Google itself. I signed into my Google account, which up till then had only really been used for Google Mail and an ancient Blogger page. I looked up Google+ and saw that it was a new type of social media service which incorporates elements of Facebook, Twitter and general social media from around the net and aggregates it into a customisable, personal page.
Being a bit of a geek, not an uber geek, but still pretty geeky, I just had to give it a try. I was salivating at the thought of building a new social network from scratch and finally being able to get away from the agony that is my current, extremely cluttered, clunky Facebook page.
Then came the downer, what's this, I need an invite to get in? An invite? Oh no! Apparently the service was in a very closed Beta testing state and the only people using it had been invited directly by Google.
I sent my friend Louis Trapani, a professional podcaster and the guy I had first heard about Google+ from, an impassioned direct message on Twitter. 'Louis, I just gotta get an invite, this looks amazing!'. No problem, he had invites to spare, except the invite button on his Google+ page had disappeared. In an effort to avoid the new service getting flooded with new accounts all at once, Google had very wisely decided to allow new sign-ups, but at a pretty slow pace to avoid affecting the speed of the site as new people were joining.
Fair enough, I did have another plan to get an invite though. A work colleague I know has a friend who works for Google in Ireland, maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to get me an invite? Nope, none to give, although the friend has been using the service internally at Google for quite a few months and was really enjoying it. This just made me want to get in even more!
I did a little searching on Twitter and came across these guys @googleplustweet. These are a small group of fans of the new service who were sending out invites and getting other people with invites to spare to send onto desperate individuals such as myself. I immediately signed up for an invite but of course, they were flooded with thousands of requests and I never got anything back from them, although it seems a lot of people did. A valiant effort, but I was still not able to get in.
By this time, a couple of days had passed since I had first heard about Google+ and I admit I was getting desperate! I just had to get on! Leo Laporte of the TWIT network produces a superb video podcast called 'This Week In Google'. I guessed that the whole show would be about the launch of Google+ and this latest episode was just that. The usual show hosts, Jeff Jarvis, Gina Trapani and Leo, were joined by two of the key figures in Google+'s development, Bradley Horovitz and Vic Gundotra. The show was conducted in the TWIT studios but also with a Google+ Hangout. This hangout is a feature of Google+ and it allows anyone to create a video conference with up to ten people at a time. It seemed to work amazingly well, with the person who was speaking at the time the main focus of the screen with the other people in the hangout lined up along the bottom. As different people spoke, they became the main screen.
All the different facets to the service were covered as well as a look at it's history and development. It seems Google have been working on this for about eighteen months and pretty much the entire company have been involved in some way.
What I got most out of the show was the over-riding feeling that everyone at Google had really given this new service an incredible amount of thought and that from what I could see, it was already an incredibly polished product. As a perfect introduction to Google+ you should watch this. Just do a search on iTunes.
Anyway, the next day, Louis asked if my invite had come through yet. It hadn't but I suggested a trick someone else had posted on Twitter. Get someone with an account to add you to their friends circle and then send an invite. Now, i'm not sure if this worked or not, but when I next checked my e-mail, I had not one but two invites! Yes!
I followed the link in the e-mail, barely able to contain my excitement, the page loaded and ...... boom, a message, 'Google+ is in Beta, please sign up here to get an invite'. What? I already have a bloody invite, just let me in already! Alas, it was not to be, no Google+ for me today. The annoying thing was, when I read Twitter, other people were getting in, this was beginning to get annoying.
So, periodically, for next twenty-four hours or so, I would follow the link in my e-mail and see if anything had changed. What to do in the meantime, check iTunes of course for any other podcasts about Google+. That was when I came across GooglePlusToday. I saw that the show already had a couple of episodes released so I downloaded these to tide me over.
What a great show! You could tell that Dennis was really enthusiastic about Google+ as were his guests. He'd also released a video walkthrough of your first few steps on the new site, which later on proved very useful.
Finally, the moment came, I was clicking the link in the e-mail for what must have been the twentieth time that day, when boom, I was greeted with the sign up screen. Holding my breath, not daring to hit anything other than the sign up button, I carefully entered my details. Hurrah, after what seem like a week of trying (it had in fact only taken three days), I was in, thank goodness for that! Now what?
Be part of the unfolding story! Add me to your circles on Google+
Google+ user ID's of people mentioned in this article
(c) 2011 Jules Burt, mild mannered bookshop manager, part-time actor, full time Dad, self confessed Cranky Geek.
Diary of a Google+ Newbie - Part Two - My First Day - Coming asap!