What is Google+? Also known as “Google Plus”, Google+ is a social networking site that is designed to help others connect with others, easily share information from across the web (via the +1 button you see at the bottom of this blog post), and manage their online identity.
When is Google+ out of beta testing? Rumor has it that the site will be out of beta testing by July 31; that date is when all private Google+ profiles will be deleted.
What features does Google+ have?
Circles: These are the “groups” you put the people you want to follow in. It comes with some defaults — family, friends, acquaintances, followers, and allows you to make your own. Two things of note: 1) Others can see that you put them in *a* circle, but not which circle. 2) You can put people into more than one circle — helpful if you consider someone both a friend and a gaming buddy.
Circles makes you think about who you want to post your status updates to. The process of picking which circles to post to is quite easy. Spending a few minutes deciding who goes in what circle (and creating circles unique to you) will be helpful in the long run.
Hangouts: This feature (group video chat) is the most widely toted of Google+, and perhaps why Facebook issued a press release stating that they would now have video chat in Facebook, via Skype — although Facebook chat is between one other person only, currently.
Huddle: A group instant messaging system that makes it easier to plan for get-togethers in real time as a group.
Sparks: This is a feature which allows you to find other items that you are interested in, across the Web.
Note: this is not a search engine to find other Google+ users based on the interests they state. However, try: http://gplussearch.com/.
Stream: This is where you will see the status updates of the people in your circles. You can choose to see all status updates (by default) or to see the stream of only one circle at a time.
+1: Click these +1 buttons to show approval of a post or to share it to your circles. For example, the Sullivan Library blog posts have this button, viewable if you view the post on its own single page.
Useful posts regarding Google+:
Google+ Guide: What it is and how to use it [Julia Hatmaker, The Patriot-News, PA]
Google Plus; an overview [Phil Bradley's Weblog]
Searching on Google Plus for Librarians [Phil Bradley's Weblog]
25 Google+ Tips to Enhance Your Google Plus Experience [webtrickz.com]
And one edited-in-real-time guide:
Google Docs: a collaborative document (or how 120+ people wrote a book at the same time) preview link
The “Creative Uses for Circles” section is especially recommended, within the greater Tips section. Be warned, it might take a few minutes to load depending on how many people are viewing/editing it.