Saturday, 13 August 2011

Careful what you wish for

Earlier today I was idly looking at the Google+ application on my Android phone and wondering about the 'Nearby' stream. For those who don't know, Google+ is Google's new social media platform that is going to change our lives forever and on the Android app (and possible the app for other platforms as well) it is possible to view public posts made by people nearby, for some value of 'nearby'. I was curious about how much this was used so I posted:
On the G+ Android app I can see 'nearby' posts. Does anyone use this? If you are reading this in the 'nearby' list please add a comment.
I added my location and waited, not really expecting much of a response.
Six hours later and I have nearly 50 comments, mostly from people I've never met. Of course, some of these comments are by the same people but I still got replies from 17 different people, only one of whom I know. So what did I learn from this?

  • Yes, people do actually read the 'nearest' stream. It seems that people like being nosey and seeing what their neighbours are up to, especially if they do not have many active friends on the network yet.
  • If you ask to be spammed you will be spammed. At times I was getting an alert on my phone every few minutes to tell me a comment had been added.
  • Google's idea of 'nearby' is quite broad to say the least. At first I was getting people from Stockport and Marple but then someone popped up out to the West in Partington and then there were a couple from up North as far as Bolton and Haslingden. I hadn't actually asked for locations but a several people volunteered this information.
  • Adding a comment to a post puts it back to the top of the list. I had specifically asked people to add comments and when they did this highlighted the post for even more people to see. I think it is dying down a bit now with the last comment added nearly an hour ago but who knows what will happen overnight.
  • One person commented, "I love that I'm getting different views on here. My Facebook is a bit of a bubble of people that think a lot like me, on here there's all sorts. Yet the conversations remain largely civil, so far at least! <3" I am not claiming that this thread or, more widely, Google+ is an embryonic intellectual debating society but I agree that it is nice to see that a group of complete strangers from various walks of life can still have a civil chit-chat about nothing in particular on the Internet.

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