At first: A mess!
I first needed a Google Account, (which then was something totally different from a Google Profile – which is why at that time you could use any email login as Google Account – there was no Google+ or Gmail at that time), when I wanted to test out the iGoogle feature – one of the services Google is closing this year, after just recently having closed Google Reader. So I took my work-academy email account and with it logged in to Google. My first Google Account. I really liked the idea of having a personalized front page online, as it came quite handy when I was at office – the weather, news and a calendar, all on your Google Search. Since then I wasn’t using it that much anymore. At that time it wasn’t even called iGoogle, but just “personalize” button that you could hit, when on Google.
Then, when I was at Gran Canaria I learned to use and like YouTube. I was a huge sceptic at first, as all I knew was that most of the videos where some 15-year old pubescent dancing and singing on some new stupid No. 1 Hitsong, or funniest home videos, etc. Yeah that’s what YouTube used to be at first. My room mate at Gran Canaria was using YouTube excessively – he looked at Guitar lessons, location videos of Gran Canaria to plan trips and used video tutorials to edit his photos. Yeah, you may laugh and think “What the heck, that’s nothing special, you’ll see them anywhere” – and yeah, today you do, but back in the days there wasn’t that elaborate API and all those features. In 2007 YouTube was just 2 years old. And by the way: Did you know that it actually wasn’t even intended to be a video sharing platform but should have become an online video dating platform inspired by Hot or Not? Take a time travel with our favorite Wayback Machine to take a look at the first versions of YouTube. And this is what it looked like, when I finally started using YouTube.
Anyhow, when I finally started using YouTube, as it’s content was soon getting better and better, I eventually needed a YouTube account. I cannot remember why exactly – there are some videos that are marked as not being suitable for minors (so you need a YouTube account and voilà, it works. Best way to protect minors ever!). Or maybe I wanted to subscribe to a friends channel – I finally got myself an Account at YouTube. At first anything was okay, then suddenly one needed a Google Account. Interestingly enough, one could also get into YouTube when using a Yahoo! Login, and incidentally I had one of those, which I rather wanted to use than to, yet again, create a new Google account (I forgot about the iGoogle account – I just remembered it later – so anyhow I had two accounts. And for a long time all was good!
Until I was invited to join Google+
You know, back in the days ( 😉 ), which actually isn’t that far back anyway, one had to have an invite to join Google+, and those where hard to get by – especially in Germany. Luckily I have a friend over in the States and he sent me an invite. Unluckily, I didn’t realize that when actually clicking the link, that the person sent to my Yahoo! Mail, Google will decide to make it my Google Account.
The problem is, after using Yahoo! Mail for nearly a decade, it was so full of spam, that I didn’t want to use that mail account anymore. Back in the days one still communicated a lot via mail and when you wanted to have discussions and participate in different IT related groups (e.g. Linux development, Linux User Groups, Chaos Computer Club, other organisations like FoeBuD), what you normally did, was to subscribe to the mailing list. I was probably in round about 10 mailing list, getting a lot of mails per day. Back then I was using mutt, which is a simple MUA, i.e. a reader that will just help you display and navigate your mailboxes, which where actual directories on your machine. It didn’t do much more – it’s just a MUA (today one generally refers to any mail client as MUA, but technically it should be called an MxA client as it incorporates not only the tasks of a MUA, as we’ll see). When you wanted to write a mail, your standard editor was used (the one declared in the system variable $EDITOR – in my case vim – what else did you expect? 😉 ), when you wanted to send a mail, mutt forwarded it to your SMTP client, (the MTA in the mail-toolchain. You could use SendEmail, Sendmail, Smail, Postfix, qmail – Linux is and always was about choices. Your choice!), which handled the sending. When you wanted to get your mail from your various e-mail servers, you had to use a POP client (the MRA, fetchmail or getmail), if you had more than one, it was the MDA that would filter them (according to your rules) and sort them into your boxes, using procmail or maildrop. And it was SpamAssassin that would clean out spam.
A huge effort to go through if you could also just install Thunderbird (a MxA, or E-Mail Agent incorporating all those tasks), you might say – and I’ll agree to you. But – each of this programs was highly configurable and while only doing one job, they did that job perfectly. Back in the days no other client could change headers – I’m not even sure if it’s possible nowadays with Thunderbird – Outlook definitely lacks the feature, as well as Mail.app. I for instance added my GPG-Key, using the X-GPG-Key-Header (those User-Defined Headers should start with X – you could of course also set and/or override ) some others did really crazy stuff – just take a look at Christian Schneider’s headers for mutt.
But again I digress. mutt is wonderfully powerful when it comes to mailing list handling. It was the first MUA to actually order mails visually as threads instead of when then arrived – making discussions easy to follow. One can fold and unfold these discussions and mutt will remember which Threads to show you – so if a thread didn’t interest you, but you wanted to keep it, you could just fold it for now. It was always moved up, when new mails appeared to this topic, but stayed folded. You could also delete it in a way that all following mails to that particular thread where automatically deleted, so you weren’t bothered by threads you didn’t want to read about anyway. Even modern mail agents still lack this abilities!
You may ask yourself what this has to do with my Google account. Well – as I had my ten-ish mailing lists that I was in (and some of them had web archives of all mails), and after having used the address for nearly half a decade, for all possible kind of things you use web mail addresses for, it slowly started building up a huge amount of spam on a per-day-basis. Yahoo! Mail had a spam filter but still, the major part of it came through.
So I “dropped” the mail address – I put up an auto-response, informing senders that the address is out of use and started using WEB.DE which I recently switched to Gmail (with two addresses a personal and an internet address). The reason for the switch to Gmail was that WEB.DE provides IMAP but actually has so little space that it gets full quite easily – and when it does, mails are dropped without informing either receiver or sender! After getting a lot of people pissed because of not replying to mails I switched to Gmail – and was invited to Google+ by that US-friend that unfortunately only had my old mail address and send it there (and asking me if I received it, which is why I had a look at it – I wouldn’t have done that otherwise).
So I ended up with a YouTube account that is my Google+ account, which I don’t use anymore which is why all mail notifications are unread. Also an actual Gmail address that is used by friends, even to share documents with me using Google Docs. Unfortunately other people did the same using my other Google address. And when I don’t look carefully I subscribe to a YouTube channel using the wrong account. And then there’s still that legacy iGoogle account which I can still log in to, allthough I don’t possess that email address anymore. What I would want to do is to move my YouTube account to one of the Gmail-Accounts, but that’s not possible anymore as my Yahoo! Mail Account (which uses YouTube) now also has a Google+ account and it is impossible to switch Apps between Google+ Accounts – would have worked, if the Yahoo!-Account stayed the way it was. See what I’m talking about?
Getting out of that mess
Now that was a long story (and it grew longer than intended, but I’ve heard that some people actually like it, when I pretend to be old and bramble about “Back in the days…”).
So what I really want to do is to use just one account. My main Google account – the one I want to use for personal stuff – that’ll be the one with my full name. The other (pygospa) is for web usages – I don’t care that much about spam on that address – it’s the one I’ll use on forums or when needing it to log in to web (2.0) services, on websites, etc. I don’t need to ever be logged in via web on the second address, as it’s just another mail account in Mail.app. My main account on the other hand is the one I want to be logged in with as I use it for Google+, so it naturally will have to manually somehow merge my YouTube account as well.
And for my Yahoo! Mail Account? I’ll completely delete it. The last time I used it was 2009, and with the exception of one person no one ever send me any mail to that address anymore (except of course all that generated junk mail).
So today I proudly present:
The old one will be deleted in a weeks time. And from now on I’ll hope to use Google+ more regularly (and therefore slowly drop Facebook).
Why choose Google over Facebook?
Because I hate Facebook. I know this may come as a shock as I do use it excessively – but I really do. I did before I used it. I was a StudiVZ advocate. Back in the days – in 2006, when I first stumbled upon it (not a year after it was founded), I was intrigued by its young and dynamic ideas and I made all my friends join me (even if they where no students) and although the site had huge problems with performance as the servers where always too slow, in the beginning it was a really good website. I joined Facebook only because my Family uses it and it’s the only way I can communicate with them online. And after I was discovered by friends on Facebook I was forced to use it. So I learned how to use it, and dropped my Twitter account for it. Also I blogged much less, though I loved blogging. But Facebook is strange. On the one side it incorporates StudiVZ, on the other Twitter. It also has blogging ability. But if you actually boil it down, it is what Twitter is and what StudiVZ never was (and when it tried to become one, StudiVZ broke) – a sharing platform: If you like something everybody sees it, if you comment on something everybody sees it, if you write something on someones board everybody sees it, and of course, if you share something everybody sees it.
It’s not everybody of course. It’s just your friends, and maybe their friends (except when you go public). You could of course use lists. I did so a while ago. But it’s cumbersome. It’s unintuitive, it’s hidden underneath Facebooks navigation-hell of settings, and once set, it always uses the last setting, for everything.
Still Facebook is also social network, a site for friends to stay in contact with, plan events, etc. And as only really few of the German Facebook users use Facebook in a sharing platform way, they are bothered with it, when you do. I can understand this, as Twitter was Opt-In, Facebook is somewhat Opt-Out, which is rude. And if you are out, you also lose the possible to network with your friends, when you need it. Frustrating.
Also Facebook is horrible when it comes to features. Sorting posts via relevance, not via time (might be nice, but in comments where there’s a discussion it is garbage!). Messages from people you’re not friends with are not shown but hidden in some folder you have to look in manually (I didn’t even know it existed until I found it and reviewed 5 messages that arrived months ago). Best of all – if you want to message someone you are not befriended with, you can still let the message appear in that persons inbox – if you pay a fee! Messages worked fine until I started using the iPhone App, now random messages just don’t show, or show too late, or I’m just not informed. Same goes for some entries. Webcam chat is pure hell. The mobile app isn’t better, it still lacks essential features that you have with the web edition.
Last but not least – the people that are on Facebook are different to those on Google+ and they use it differently. I recently stumbled upon a website of a developer team, where all of them had Google+ accounts and non had a Facebook account. Also bloggers that I follow (most of them Geek- or Tech-Bloggers) often use Google+ and prefer it to Facebook. And, what impressed me most: I even found some of my professors on Google+. I searched for them on Facebook but they are not there. Instead they chose to use Google+. It is as if all developers, computer scientists and active Web 2.0 content producers are more active on Google+ than on Facebook and that they use it more in a way that I use Facebook. And those are the people I like to network with on a professional level.
So, when it comes to Google+ all the negative aspects of Facebook are taken care of in a professional way. I really enjoy the Google+ App for mobile devices. It simply works, and incorporates all the major features – even webcam chat. When it comes to webcams, Goolge Hangout even beats Skype. Group Chats with protocols, document sharing, desktop sharing, …
The design is clear, the settings more accessible, and especially the range of the things you share is always present, and intuitively to handle – totally different to that silly list thing in Facebook. I really like that. Also to my little experience with Google+ (I mostly just used it as replacement for Skype for online learning and studying sessions with fellow students), the page is less prone to lags, outages and errors. Also Google+ is not only about friends. I can decide to add someone in my “circles” without them needing to approve it and by doing so add me as well. So it’s an opt-in thing. If I want to actually follow someone and receive all his (public) comments, I circle him. If I don’t and he just circled me, he’ll get all my public comments, and that’s it. If we circle each other, we see each others posts (of course in accordance to the circle we are in). Anyhow this does not influence the ability of contacting someone at all! – Google+ is not hiding any messages, as Facebook does. And just take a look at Google+’ implementation of Hashtags and compare it to how dull this is handled on Facebook! It’s like “Wow, Facebook! It took you years to add a feature that Twitter and Google+ have had for years now, and when you finally implement it, you do it in a way that there’s no worth to using it, at all!”
All in all those are great advantages of Google+. Are there any disadvantages? Well yes. Although, Google+ is now the second largest social network, meaning it even overtook Twitter – and that’s in active users! 359 million, (according to Business Insider), which is more than half of Facebook’s 701 million active users – there’s still much less activity and people are not using it as frequently as Facebook. On Facebook I’ve got 228 “friends”, on Google+ there are 32 people “in my circles”, plus 48 that have me circled.
But of course I wasn’t using it actively, and maybe that’ll change soon. I won’t delete my Facebook though. It’s ideal to stay in contact with everyone I know (personally) and to plan events, etc. I just will try to not produce that much content there anymore. So let’s see how this will work out! If you like, please find me on Google+ and circle me. I’m excited about how this will develop 😉