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Elgan: How Google+ ends social networking fatigue

Google+ isn't just another social network. It's the one place to consolidate all of your social activity.

July 9, 2011 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Social networking fatigue: You've got it, and I've got it. Everyone's overwhelmed by the sheer number of social sites the industry keep churning out.

I was already struggling to stay active on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Buzz, Google Reader and several other social sites.

As new media come online, the old ones never go away. I keep up with email, of course, and publish an email newsletter. I use AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and Google Talk for quick messaging, and also text on my iPhone like a Dachshund on crack.

I used to blog on Google's Blogger platform, then I switched to Posterous when that was the hot new service, only to leave it for Tumblr when that became Flavor of the Month.

I won't even try to list all the services I embraced, then quit.

When Google+ came along, I had the same initial reaction as you probably did: "What, another one?"

Then it hit me: Google+ isn't adding to the problem. Google+ can be the solution to social networking fatigue.

Just don't call it a social network

Everybody calls Google+ a "social network." Everyone, that is, except Google.

In the company's announcement, you won't find the phrase anywhere. They instead use another "S" word: "sharing." And "sharing" is just a warm-and-fuzzy way to say "communication."

By not labeling Google+ as a "social network," Google has a point. Google+ is no more a social network than it is any number of other online communications media. Google+ is also an email service, blogging platform, micro-blogging site, news feed, video conferencing system, chat service, location-based social network and more. So why call it a "social network"?

Here's a better question: Why overwhelm yourself with a dozen services when you can consolidate them all into one? For most people, Google+ can replace every single medium of online communication. The benefit is clear: One site, one log-in, one feed is better than many for ending social networking fatigue.

Here's my list of all the social services that Google+ can replace. I'll tell you what you can replace, what you need to know about replacing other media and why you should replace them all.

Social networking

Yes, Google+ is a great replacement for Facebook. (See my column from last week, "Declare independence... from Facebook!")

Email

Google+ is the first email replacement I've ever seen that's actually better than email. Some two years ago, I wrote a column in this space headlined "How to kill email (before it kills you)." Back then, my solution was to force all your communication through Twitter, Facebook and Skype instead of email and thereby get rid of spam, excessive chatter and needless attachments. Don't look now, but Google+ is essentially Twitter, Facebook and Skype, and is a much better replacement for email.



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