The Social Layer Also Known As Google+

By Special K – ETMG Writer/Editor

As promised in a recent post, A Few of My Favorite Things About Google+, I’ve continued exploring Google+, and I’m realizing that one of the most interesting things about it has to do with the ways in which it provides a social layer across the Google/Web ecosystem of products. When I first encountered the term “social layer” in various write-ups about Google+, I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I’m beginning to get a handle on it. Here’s what I’ve found thus far.

Google+ functions both as a social network and provides a new layer of interoperability and integration between Google products. Currently, this integration takes place primarily through the Google+ bar, which appears at the top of Google products. Through the Google+ bar, you can share information with your Google+ network, view your Google+ notifications, access your profile, and jump back and forth between any of Google’s products. In this way, Google+ functions as a kind of overarching layer on top of and with tentacles into various tools that Google provides to the average user for free. For example, I use a number of these tools (Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader) several times a day. Now when I’m on my Gmail home page, I can share something to my Google Plus page (via the G+ toolbar) without having to go to my actual Google Plus page.

With Google+ still in its infancy, it’s unclear exactly how it or its users will evolve. What is clear, however, is that with Google+, Google is well-positioned to lead another major change in the way that we use the web. If we think about the things that we do on the Internet, and then think about the available tools for doing these things, it turns out that Google has a product for just about every one of those functions. For instance, we search for information, and many of us use Google products (Search, Maps, News, Reader, and Sparks) to do this. We create and publish content, and again, Google has widely-used products for various kinds of content (e.g. Blogger, YouTube, and Picasa). Last, but certainly not least, we communicate and collaborate with each other on the Internet. Prior to Google+, Google’s products in this arena included Calendar, Docs, and Gmail. With the introduction of Google+ we can add Circles, Hangouts, and Huddle to the mix.

What do you think about this new social layer? Are you finding other ways in which Google+ is extensible? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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