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Elgan: What I lost on the Google+ Diet

After using only Google's new social network for a week -- forsaking all others -- here's what I learned

July 16, 2011 07:01 AM ET

Computerworld - On July 8, I went on the Google+ Diet, using Google's new social network for all my online communication. As part of the diet, I stopped using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and several other services. I even stopped using e-mail.

As I explained in my column last week, the purpose of the experiment was to see if consolidating and streamlining all social activity into Google+ was possible and, if so, desirable. (You can follow my experiment here, even if you're not a Google+ member.)

I was able to answer my two questions on day one of my Google+ Diet. Yes, it's possible, and yes, it's desirable.

More interestingly, however, I found out all kinds of surprising things about Google+ and about using Google+ as the one-and-only medium for online communication. Here's what I learned:

A lot of people want to get on the Google+ Diet

I've been surprised by the number of people who want to get on the Google+ Diet. Social networking fatigue is an epidemic, and people are feeling overwhelmed by all the social networks and social media out there. Dozens of people have told me they're going all-out on the Google+ Diet, and hundreds or thousands have apparently jumped into some version of it.

The most common approach: People are quitting Facebook and Twitter, and replacing them with Google+.

Google+ is the most 'social' social network

The social activity level on Google+ is off the charts. If you have 1,000 followers each on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and ask a question, you will probably get 10 times the feedback on Google+.

It's the feedback that's motivating A-list bloggers like Digg founder Kevin Rose to shut down their blogs and redirect traffic to their Google+ profiles. I have found the same to be true.

To me, this is what social networking is all about. You share something, then people interact with you about that, giving you additional information, correcting your errors, expressing their opinions and sharing their own related stories. Google+ is by far the most social of all the social networks.

Google+ is highly addictive

I did not expect Google+ to be psychologically addictive. But I have felt the pull myself, and others have, too. It's the only thing I've found online that draws you in like console video gaming.

I say this not to praise Google, but to predict that Google+ addiction may actually become a real problem in the future for some people.

There are two things about Google+ that cause this addiction. The first is the Stream, which is simply a running feed containing the posts of all the people you're following on Google+. While Facebook's News Feed is also a running stream of posts, it's a censored stream. Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm is blocking the majority of posts from your friends from reaching your feed.

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