Google +, which had been expected as “Google Circles” or something similar already in March, may be the next successful Social Network. Thanks to an usually very helpful, well-informed mailinglist and a nice blogger, I am a member now.
Until now, I had been hesitant to have a public profile with Google (which you need for the service), but after realising you can control whether it will be shown in most search engines or not (including Google), and you can fine-tune which links will be shown to whom (be careful about the +1 in which connection, depending on how you want to “craft” your general profile on the net), I created one and was able to sign up for Google+.
It looks promising. [Update: Initially thought to be] designed by a former Mac software designer, the design is relatively clear and white, which I like. At a first glance, it appears to be a bit complicated, but opinions vary about that (I have never used Facebook, at the time of writing this, so I cannot really compare). I hope people will nevertheless consider it [if it is good for them].
You can group your contacts into “circles” (one contact into various circles is ok). A few circles are suggested (e.g. friends, family), but you can create others. Then, you can adjust with whom you would like to share what by tailoring it to the respective circles. You can also add people who are no member of Google+, they will receive the post by mail (and sort of get invited at the same time).
I have been hesitant for a long time to sign up with Facebook, simply because I felt doubtful about how they handle the privacy of my data. Whereas it may be a problem to give Google even more data than it would have otherwise, I found the way they handle cases in which data of you get online which should not be online, often helpful or ok. Also, they are aware of privacy issues, I think (You do have to have a look at them, though, in the settings of your account: It could be helpful, for example, to choose, that it should not be shown to the public when someone adds you to one of their circles, if you would like to avoid that; otherwise people may get the impression you are connected to someone else, with whom you would rather not, or not in a certain situation, appear to be connected.) – at least privacy in relationship to the public. If you say: Google should not have even more data, or if you say: they already know so much about me because of Gmail… that is your choice. I could easily argue against the latter (the real problem would begin in weighing privacy against getting more readers / sponsors / customers…), despite the sentence having resounded within my thoughts. Yet, for the moment, I find playing around with Google+ interesting. As always, of course, we need to be aware.