Thoughts on Google+

Posted on September 28, 2011. Filed under: education, facebook, google, libraries, library 2.0 | Tags: , , , |

Google+ achieved 20 Million users in its first 24 days and having earned #8th place in the top 10 social networking sites this week, it is set to become a key Facebook and Twitter competitor (for comparison, Twitter took 1035 days and Facebook 1152 days to reach 20 million) .

Now that Google+ has been opened up for anyone to join after two-and-a-half months in closed testing [see] you may be having a look at it and thinking about how it may be useful to you or to librarians and education even.  It is still very early days and no doubt there is more functionality in the pipeline, but in the mean time here are some thoughts.

Like other social communications media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc) Google+ is a place where you can create, stream, share and comment on information including photos and links etc and meet with others who share your interests.  You create your own profile and add people (friends colleagues etc) to ‘circles‘, this enables you to share particular things with certain people and not others if you wish.  Your circles are private, others can’t see them and they don’t know which circle(s) you have added them to. Google+ also provides real-time text and video chat functionality (hangouts, similar to Skype). Hangouts may provide an alternative to Library livechat e.g. Questionpoint for example and with the ability to share screens and documents, could be a useful module tutorial/work space.  As with other networks, critical mass (the number of ‘active’ people in your network) is important, you are more likely to find it useful if your network is regularly posting and interacting.

In Google+ you can +1 posts, which is similar to ‘like’ in Facebook, you can also share other people’s posts with your friends. You can save searches in Google+ too, so if a group of colleagues agreed to use a particular phrase e.g. Digital Literacy in their posts then the latest posts on that subject can be found by viewing the saved search.  There are already groups of librarians, students and academics using Google+, it will be interesting to see how these evolve and what aspects of Google+ they find most useful.

This slide (taken from Must See Google Plus Presentation from Zenslide) compares Google+, Facebook and Twitter features.  Those of you who use Facebook will realise that it does also have lists and re-sharing features and, following recent up-dates, it now has a twitter-style news ticker and it’s now possible to only share your status up-dates etc with selected lists and/or hide them from specific people or lists if you wish.  It’s worth mentioning that games (which can be used as a method of attracting and retaining users as well as generating revenue) feature in both Facebook and Google+ but not in Twitter.

Comparison of Google+, Facebook and Twitter functionality

Other social networks can quickly add new communications features and as mentioned above Facebook are already doing so, rapidly catching up with those in Google+.  So the ability to search,

to find updates from your circles, news from around the web and public Google+ posts, giving you instant access to the topics you care about and the people who care about them along with you.

and the location of Google+ within the Gmail user’s ‘desktop’ environment are perhaps Google’s killer applications.   Not forgetting Google+ integration with other Google apps e.g. Google docs and Picasa which further strengthen its position.  Facebook is also in the integration business, Spotify tied its future to Facebook last week so that new users have to also have a Facebook account (see Is Spotify too friendly with Facebook?).  It seems the race is on for social networking sites to provide the best communications features and more importantly, integrate key online applications and so win new users, with both Google and Facebook sharing the same aim, to increase market share and hence advertising revenue.

At the moment Google+ is focused on individuals and not on organisations or businesses. It’s not yet possible to create a business profile or Facebook-type business ‘page’ or a ‘group’. On July 22nd 2011 Christian Oestlien from Google said:

“…we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months.  In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.”

So for the moment we can figure out Google+ as individuals, and interact with others in Google+ as ourselves but if we want to we can promote what our own organisation is doing e.g. by sharing links in Google+ to our blog posts.

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OU Library iGoogle Gadgets

Posted on September 11, 2008. Filed under: google, library 2.0, technology, web 2.0 |

The OU Library’s Website Personalisation Project is experimenting with the use of web services (including gadgets) to provide content to Library customers. The gadgets are currently available within Library Toolbox, which is where we showcase new technologies that we are working on and invite feedback on them.

Below is the list of gadgets that we plan to implement using the NetVibes Universal Widget Application (in addition to the Library catalogue search and the new books list gadgets that are currently available). The Netvibes UWA enables you to write a widget once and run it anywhere, e.g. iGoogle/Pageflakes/Netvibes/Facebook, Vista etc. Is anyone else using this application to create Library widgets? Please share your thoughts on it.

  • ORO Search
  • OneStop Search
  • eJournals Search
  • Search boxes for key databases
  • Featured links (as per the links box on the Library homepage)
  • “My record” (similar in format to the Facebook iGoogle gadget; to enable people to see how many books they have out, how many requests pending and how many items are available for them to collect. Tabs for other Library services e.g. catalogue search, New books, etc)
  • RSS feed for each OU Library blog
  • New books (individual rss)
  • Library news (rss)
  • Library events (rss)
  • Library seminars (rss)
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Library related apps in iGoogle

Posted on September 11, 2008. Filed under: google, library 2.0, web 2.0 | Tags: , , , |

On the 6th March 2008 I did a quick search on “library” within iGoogle’s apps (via ‘Add Stuff’) and found various truly Library related apps (as opposed to things with library in the title that are nothing to do with ‘libraries’), which I categorised as per the below.  This (and other research) has informed the development of a list of Library-related gadgets that we plan to implement using the NetVibes UWA.


  • ILIM Library (India)
  • Pearland Junior High South Library
  • Penn State Life Sciences Library
  • The Library Channel
  • Library stuff (Steven M. Cohen)
  • (Jessamyn West)
  • Unshelved (Library Comic strip/blog)
  • The Shifted Librarian (Jenny Levine)

Children’s Books

Custom Search engines
These are iGoogle api’s that have been configured as search-engines. 6 in total.

  • Academic Libraries search (searches 62 college and university library sites)
  • ALA Best of Free Reference (Web sites included annual lists issued by the “ALA MARS Best of Free Reference Web Sites Committee” to recognize outstanding reference sites on the World Wide Web.)
  • Clark Memorial Library
  • The Librarians Book revoogle (searches book reviews on library and librarian websites)
  • Librarians e-library (Selected resources on Libraries and Librarianship from the American Library Association (ALA) Library and a growing list of volunteers.)



  • NY Public Library Events

Google Scholar

  • UNLV Libraries Google Scholar


  • Combined Library Job postings – and library job postings on the internet.


  • D-Lib Magazine

Library catalogues

46 in total. 6 UK (university, plus the British Library); the rest appear to all be US based (mix of university/college/high school and public libraries), apart from Worldcat, and 2 Australian Libraries. Most provide a catalogue search only; a few provide a link to ‘my account’ or similar; a few provide an institutional repository search and/or a federated search box e.g. Metalib and/or links to databases/e resources/library blog/web chat service).

Database searches

15 separate api’s in total. Some were just a list of links to databases rather than a search box.

  • Amador Valley Library Online Databases (list of links)
  • The British Library (BL webpages, collect Britain, catalogue, Journal Articles)
  • Canisius Library (Jstor)
  • CLL Legal Research Engine (Easy access to authoritative legal research guides on every subject. Brought to you by Cornell Law Library.) (Inoperable)
  • DLP Library article search (Database links)
  • Foothill High School Library (list of links to dbases)
  • Gordon Library (Quick find (federated search), and links to: catalogue, databases & eresources, instant answers webchat)
  • Gumberg Library (Ebsco)
  • Gumberg Library (Proquest)
  • Gumberg Library (Journal Finder – metalib)
  • University of Kansas (eJournals – serials solutions)
  • Loughborough Uni Library (catalogue, insititutional repository, and metalib)
  • National Science Digital Library
  • Pleasanton Public Library Online databases (list of links)
  • Stamford University Library full text journal finder
  • Library Express (Log in screen, no details of what it’s for. A Wisconsin Uni ap).

Teaching resources

  • Amador Valley Student/Teacher Writing resources (list of links to copyright/plagiarism resources)
  • AVHS Teacher Resources (list of links)


  • Librarians’ Internet Index: News this week (Lii is a gateway to websites selected, described and organised by librarians)
  • LISNews (collaborative weblog)

Reference resources

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (Library articles)
  • Wikipedia


  • BCCLS Member Libraries Map (Location of Bergen County Cooperative Library System Libraries)
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Institutional websites

Posted on March 13, 2008. Filed under: accessibility, google, rss, universities, web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , |

Like Brian Kelly, I came across the University of Southampton’s “iSoton” website via Lorcan Dempsey‘s blog posting.

Having had a look at iSoton, I wondered why an organisation would choose to create such a site rather than make something almost identical within a PageFlakes ‘page’ or within an iGoogle ‘tab’ for example (for free)? People could then add and delete applications from their version of the ‘page’ or ‘tab’. New applications produced by an organisation could be publicised via an rss feed (and viewed in the Pageflake or in iGoogle or elsewhere).

The comments on Brian Kelly’s blog post’s include a response from the manager of the iSoton Project.

Personally, I would like to be able to drag one or more applications from within an organisation’s page (e.g. the catalogue search box on my Library’s website; or the new BBC homepage’s news and weather sections; or a flickr photo collection) into the tool that I use – currently iGoogle.

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Google Reader

Posted on June 28, 2007. Filed under: feed aggregator, google, rss, technology, web 2.0 |

Within Google Reader it is possible to ‘star’ your favourite items and to then view your list of starred items; it is also possible to add tags to items and then browse them. Unfortunately it is not possible to search for items within Google Reader. So that item that you had thought to be fairly insignificant but have now realised is relevant to your current work is very difficult to find. Do other RSS feed aggregators allow searching?

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Posted on June 27, 2007. Filed under: feed aggregator, google, information overload, rss, web 2.0 |

This site helps to reduce information overload – you can select your RSS feeds, define what you want to get from them (using keywords) and then get the filtered results via email, IM or RSS.  I currently use Google Reader to aggregate my RSS feeds.  I would love to have fewer posts to trawl through. But from a horizon-scanning pov, I’m not sure whether filtering them would be a good idea as I may miss important new things for which I don’t currently have a keyword.

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Google for Universities

Posted on June 14, 2007. Filed under: collaboration, education, google, strategy, technology, universities |

Google is providing universities with “Google Apps for Education” – gmail, google calendars and google document sharing/collaboration tools. Trinity College Dublin appears to be the first UK University to sign up. An advantage to students (and staff!) is that they can still have access to their email account when they leave. See:

Something that I have been pondering is whether students would find it useful to have a tab within their igoogle containing their University’s gadgets. The student could create such a tab from scratch themselves, but for some having a tab pre-populated with gadgets relevant to their life at uni, e.g. their course (e.g. news feeds, course calendar); their library (catalogue search box/website search box) etc that they can edit (add more gadgets to – not just those provided by their uni – and remove things from) may be useful – perhaps?

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