This is why you need Google Spaces

Google's newest social app is called Google Spaces. Here's why you should use it, and how.

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Just click or tap on the INVITE link, grab the URL and paste in a tweet that says: "Let's talk about this on Spaces."

The best part is that Twitter lurkers who want to watch the conversation unfold can do so, too, but unlike Twitter itself, you can deal with trolls and haters by deleting their comments and blocking them from the entire conversation (not just blocking them from your own eyes, as is the case with Twitter itself).

Use Spaces to have private conversations

Spaces is great for extremely private conversations. First, you can invite just a few people, and once they've joined, you can make it impossible for anyone else to join.

Click or tap on the More Options item (three vertical dots) and choose "People in this space." At the top, you'll find the current link to the space, with a trash can next to it. By clicking or tapping on the trash can, you delete the link so nobody else can join. It's like pulling up the ladder in a treehouse.

spaces search

The mobile app lets you use Spaces instead of the Google Search app -- or the YouTube app. As a bonus, it automatically bookmarks all the sites you've shared.

Later, if you want to invite others, you can generate a new and different link to the same space in the same way you generated the first one.

Also: The "People in this space" page is where you can remove or block users. Removing kicks them out of the current space. Blocking kicks them out of all your spaces forever.

(On the mobile app only, tapping on a person's profile picture brings up their Google bio page.)

You can also delete your own posts on your own spaces, or on anyone else's posts that you've commented in.

While many sites claim to enable private conversations, Google is less likely to get hacked and have data exposed than just about any other major social company. For example, Slack, Snapchat and Twitter have all been hacked and have had user data exposed. That has never happened to, say, Google+. Google Spaces is probably very secure.

Use Spaces to have ephemeral conversations

When you're done with your private conversation, you can permanently delete the whole space: posts, comments, pictures, links -- everything.

By the way, this is another advantage over both social networks and messaging apps. With those, you can't control the conversation on the other side. Even if you delete a post and its comments on a social network, other users might have enabled email delivery of posts, and therefore will still have a copy of the entire thread.

Use the Chrome extension for two-click posting

Install the Google Spaces Chrome extension here. The extension simply places a button on Chrome that, when pressed, gives you the option to share the currently selected page on Spaces. It's the quickest way to share a Web page with others, or just with yourself.

Control notifications

I have several small spaces with very few invitees. Plus I have a large one that I created early to discuss Spaces itself (each space maxes out at 500 participants, and my big space has 500).

I like the Spaces notification feature on both phone and desktop. But my biggest space is a fire hose of activity, so I often "mute" the big space by clicking on the More Options button at the top of the space and choosing "Mute space." Now I get notifications for all the spaces except that one. You can "Unmute space" in the same location.

Use color to differentiate or categorize spaces

The Activity stream shows you all joins, posts and comments on all your spaces in reverse chronological order in real time without any algorithmic filtering. Each item is accompanied by an icon that shows what kind of post it is (link, picture or text). That icon also displays the color used to customize each space.

By giving spaces different colors, you can instantly see which space each post is associated with. Or, by giving categories of spaces -- personal, family, work, political -- you can see at a glance what kind of comment it is.

Use Spaces for crowdsourcing

Social networks are great for brainstorming ideas. The trouble is that nonparticipants who follow you can feel annoyed by the resulting chatter.

Google Spaces is a place to take crowdsourcing "offline." (I used Spaces, for example, to crowdsource ideas for this column.)

By learning these simple but powerful tips, you can take advantage of Google Spaces' unique benefits.

Google Spaces isn't perfect. But as a platform, it can be a powerful productivity and communication tool that’s agnostic, simple, private, secure, flexible and easy to use.

And, the cherry on top is that Google Spaces doesn't ask for your total devotion. It's just there when you need it.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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