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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Summer B provides a lot of students with their first impressions of college. A few friends of mine just moved into on-campus dorms to start their first semesters as UF students.

For those of us who have been there before, one thing we can probably all agree on is how drastically your social life can change when you first walk onto campus.

That's why I thought it was interesting that I just received a trial version of Google's latest attempt to invade the social networking market. Google+ is the web giant's latest attempt to topple Facebook, and while that might not be possible right now, it definitely provides cool and interesting features.

One of the tag lines Google seems to be using is making online sharing more like real-life sharing. People don't actually get pictures developed and show them to their friends in person anymore, but Google+ transitions that to an online platform more effectively than Facebook or Twitter.

The cornerstone of that is what Google calls "Circles." It works a lot like Facebook, where you make a profile first.

But instead of adding people as a friend, you add them to a Circle. You can create however many circles you want, so you can put family members in a "Family" circle, coworkers in a "Co-workers" circle, and random people you met at a party in a "Random People I Met at Parties" circle.

The best part about it is people just get notified that you added them to a circle - they don't see the name of the circle you added them into.

After you have your circles organized, everything you upload - every status, picture, video, link, whatever - is only viewable by the group or groups you select. So your "College Friends" circle sees pictures of you on the cruise you went on over summer, but your "Family" circle doesn't.

It's simple, but it's genius. I've been playing around with the trial of Google+ for a couple of days, and it seems like the only possible competitor to Facebook in today's market. I wholeheartedly recommend signing up for it when it becomes available to the general public.

Add in what else Google offers - the best email platform, obviously the best search engine and the super-convenient Google Docs - and you're seeing the constant evolution of the only truly dominant force in cyber networking.

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