Google+: A Space In-Between

Thin Blue Line

What Google+ is and will become, remains largely speculative. There’s a lot of missing features and functions that need to be addressed. And for some of us, there are a number of arising questions, such as: What does it mean to add another stream of information to my busy life? In it’s early iteration though, I am enjoying the liminal space that Google+ is currently inhabiting.

As I have discussed on Google+, the platform sits somewhere between ‘social network’ and ‘blog’. It is this that I have found so gratifying during my early use of it.

Twitter has become fundamental in helping me to develop as an educator; engaging me with other educators, ideas and tools that I may not have come across so easily. However, my one grievance with the platform has been the 140 character limitation. I understand, that this very feature of Twitter is the fundamental principal on which the platform was built. Nevertheless, I feel inhibited by it, particularly in those moments where you are involved in a detailed discussion and need to express yourself more fully.

This blog on the other hand, clearly offers me greater freedom to write, reflect and explore topics in greater detail generating discussion in the comments. However, I am quite the perfectionist and it has become the pattern that blog posts tend to gestate and evolve over time so the opportunities for these more meaningful discussions become dispersed. Additionally, I have not mastered the art of the short blog post. It is something I struggle with; yet I know that long tomes are not always conducive to driving readers towards your blog.

My approach to my blog and the limitations I feel are self-created: I have (IMO) spent a little too much time, cultivating the image of the blog, increasing its importance and value in my mind… therefore I find it difficult to square away the idea that I could publish concise, punchy blog posts.

Google+ on the other hand does not have the limitations of Twitter or a Blog. Firstly, there is no character limit. As such I can write more than a tweet. This does not mean that I have found myself writing massively long posts. Due to the social nature of the platform, I do not feel compelled to do so. What’s more, the ensuing discussion becomes more detailed and involving, and as such, arguably, more meaningful. Something, which many blogger crave to achieve.

Secondly, as it is new and not yet fully formed, it also free of many limitations usually found within social networks. Unlike Twitter, Google+ has no set rules, be they self-imposed or community created.

Thirdly, Google+ is not as formalised as a blog can be. Writing feels very natural; sharing thoughts and ideas with links and images, free from constraints.

My response to Google+ is highly idiosyncratic but nevertheless I believe there is something valuable about the in-between space that the platform currently inhabits. Hovering between blog and social network, Google+ is something else entirely. While it remains undefined it will I believe continue to hold an appeal for me… a space for connecting, writing and sharing ideas. Whether, this continues to be the case as the platform grows and evolves, I will just have to wait and see.

What I would like, is to feel the same way about writing here on my blog. The question I’m left pondering then, is this: How do I quell the perfectionist inside and establish the same liminality on my blog?

Image courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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James Michie

Husband, Educator, Writer, Runner...

6 thoughts on “Google+: A Space In-Between”

  1. Hello James,
    My blog consists of a mixture of posts- brief observations, questions, curated twitter conversations (eg with storify), reposting of interesting videos, presentations … anything. I use the blog because I want to have a way of capturing the thoughts and interaction of others, rather than to publish my own thoughts. I don’t know if that is how others see it!
    If I get into a long-winded discussion on Twitter I’ll exhort protagonists to write a blog post too- and this has produced some interesting results! (eg http://ffolliet.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-benjamin-disraeli/)
    I was sceptical about the power of tweetchats- believing that they mainly allow community to develop, rather than deep insights. So in advance of a discussion on portfolios and competency in medical education last week, I decided to give people a place to air their thoughts in a blog instead http://mededconnect.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/portfolios-and-competency/
    The results are much richer than the subsequent Twitter discussion http://mededconnect.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/30-june-meded-chat-transcript-portfolios/
    How would this have worked in Google plus? I don’t know. But we will probably find strengths and weaknesses there too.
    So I guess my advice for blogging liminal posts is to think about what you want to learn rather than what you want to share. 

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing the links. I like the idea of starting something off on the blog and then focussing time on developing the discussion. Tom Barrett seems to be really good at this, just look at the number of comments and depth of discussion on this recent post also related to Google+: http://edte.ch/blog/2011/07/01/the-google-project-targeted-sharing/

      One idea I have had is to curate what I am discussing on Twitter / Google+ more effectively and if I find I am returning to similar themes, write up those thoughts, draw some conclusions and hit publish.

      Your last comment is also an interesting notion. I have often looked on my blog as a place to clarify my learning; to reflect on it. Perhaps, you are right and I need to look on it as an environment can also take place. Definitely food for thought. I’m going to ponder this further over the next few days. 🙂

  2. Interesting thoughts from the two of you.  My personal thoughts about my own blog is that it’s all of the above and anything else that comes along.  At times, I feel like a salesperson while at other times, I feel just goofy and other times I’m just trying to learn something and I seem to do so by getting my thoughts out and having others direct me.  It can be a challenge at times to start a conversation with the blog and then have the followup appear on another platform like Twitter and/or Facebook.  As James will attest, I extended that to Google Plus this morning.  There’s a fine balance between curating things and reaching to the bigger audience.

    1. Absolutely… I’m going to try to fret less, post a bit more often and let this space grow a little more organically… hopefully the balancing act will resolve itself if I try to control it less?

  3. James,

    I’m really liking what you are saying about google+ being that space inbetween. I don’t blog, as I don’t feel that I have enough to say in a full blog post, yet I feel the constraints of twitter, so Google+ has some potential, as I’m sure there must be many out there who haven’t found a full on blogging voice!

    I suppose it’s succes comes down to the ‘will people use it?’ question, if people join and make their connections, then that space in-between may just spread out further…..

    As for the perfectionist in you, the ability to come back, revise and re-post can allow you the freedom to post the imperfect 🙂

    1. Yes… and you know that is exactly what I tell my A-Level students. I get really frustrated when they save their posts as drafts as I can’t see how their progressing or what they are struggling with. But, I realise that this is unfair of me when I do the same.

      If I am making them publish as they go, encouraging them to return and refine, then perhaps I should practise what I preach!

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