This is my new information gathering m.o.
- Wake up in the morning and grab my cellphone.
- Click the Google Plus button and scroll through what’s in there.
- Start opening links from friend’s posts into the browser tabs, and floating back to G+.
- Go to Facebook, and do the same thing.
- Once I’ve gone through all the posts on Facebook, I click to browser and read the articles.
- Occasionally reshare, like or +1 the article in its home site.
- Shower (phone playing music from my files)
- Down to the laptop at the kitchen table, eat breakfast and read any articles I missed from the phone.
- THEN I check the following sites: BoingBoing, The Atlantic, io9, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, NY Times.
- Share articles from respective sites to my FB and G+ feeds.
This kind of information behavior is becoming the new norm, and that’s what social networking sites are banking on. I’m absolutely certain that Google, the most predominant search engine out there, is upgrading their algorithms to incorporate things like the resharing of articles and +1, to boost the signal on content that is becoming socially relevant to people. That’s more than likely how Sparks is supposed to work, but who looks at Sparks anyway? With all of the awesome things coming through your stream, there’s no need to go out looking for more.
Sharing information between friends has always part of the experience of gathering information. Social networks and availability of online content have expanded that tremendously, but each does it differently due to their policies on how you can add people. Facebook requires you to mutually accept a friend request. This is a barrier designed to focus on the relationship between the people involved. You are acknowledging that you and this other person are friends, and that acknowledgment allows you to see their content. Google+ on the other hand has the option to follow people, and not have them follow you back, thus allowing you to see content from people you wouldn’t normally have acknowledged as a friend, and thus extending your relationships beyond personal acquaintance.
Part of the reason I go to Google+ first now is because a) I have a vast majority of people who are not necessarily close to me (increasing the complexity of what I’m reading) and b) there is a greater space to contextualize the information being received. So not only am I seeing a wide array of content that I would not be exposed to via my Facebook friends, but I’m also getting a clearer picture of why they’re sharing that content with me and what they believe it means. Twitter has never really felt relevant to me, because I get far too little information from the people posting to encourage me to want to click a shortened URL. They can’t explain why they’re providing the link, or what their pros and cons are with a piece. Facebook at least allows you a little breathing room when sharing a link. But even there you have a limited character space. Google+ affords you the opportunity to practically write a thesis in rebuttal or praise of an article. People who read your post can truly get to the heart of why you’re sharing this content with them. Add to that the fact that resharing a post from the original author incorporates not only his/her massive context, but also allows the resharer to post his/her response to the article. That gives you two extended opinions from two different people as well as the original link to the article online, which vastly increases the trust one has with the content that they’re reading.
Google+ only has about 30,000 people on the network, as opposed to Facebook which has half a billion. And yet blog sites are reporting that G+ is driving a tremendous amount of traffic to their pages, I know that I’ve seen this and loads of other bloggers have to. It’s because it’s built on the very real culture of discussing literature and sharing it with your friends. And when your definition of friend is ever-widening, you see content going viral more often.
Then again, maybe G+ users are just extremely avid readers, like these folks…