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The New Google +1 Button

  BlueTone Media

Search engines and social networks collide

with Google's newest feature, the +1. If you use Google, as does most of the internet, you are by now probably aware of those strange little boxes besides search results which light up attractively when you hold the mouse over them (if you haven't checked this out yet, just Google something and see what we mean.) These are Google's +1 boxes, small counters which allow Google users to rate items based on their preferences for particular search items...and which are also undeniably similar to the Facebook "like" button. However, dissimilar the Facebook like button, the Google +1 adds a personal element to the search engine, an otherwise anonymous and sterile tool. By allowing people to rate search terms of interest, they are in effect creating microcosmic peer reviews which appear to others in their Google networks, most notably from Google Buzz and Gmail.

Google is hoping the +1 button can help erase some painful memories from their last few forays into the social media market. The organization has a significant history of social awkwardness, which seems particularly bizarre for one of the most consistently innovative media giants in the world. Google Wave, their 2009 program which connected people through feeds similar to Facebook status updates, fell flat on its face and is considered one of the most over-hyped major internet release failures of all time1.

The +1 button is connected to a +1 tab in your Google account, which by default renders the items which you have rated public to any Google contacts you may have. However, changing privacy settings is a snap, and the feature is for all intents and purposes far more private than something like using a Facebook or LinkedIn account. With its +1 button, Google hopes to separate itself from the Facebook "like" button by serving a more utilitarian purpose: providing instant recommendations for your friends based on the searches, business, services, and products which you’ve enjoyed.

Whether or not the Google +1 button will be a lasting success is yet to be seen; some people are already declaring that “Google +1 is awesome!”2 while others consider it disappointing, and possibly even broken3. Regardless, this is only the beginning. Google is currently in a field trial period of Google Plus, a full-blown social networking site which, if successful, could step in on serious chunks of Facebook’s territory. At least for the time being we’ll be giving the Google +1 button a shot; check out our homepage and perhaps even give our new +1 button a click if you’re so inclined.

1. Maddock, Bryce. "Socially Awkward: A History of Google's Social Media Failures." The Huffington Post, 08 Aug. 2010. Web.

2. "Google +1 Is Awesome." DeadZones, 04 June 2011. Web.

3. Peters, Aaron. “Google +1 Button Performance Review”., 06 June 2011. Web.

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