Social networking software

Early Google+ Can't Touch Twitter for Breaking News

Having been in Norway just a couple of months ago, I have more than a passing interest in yesterday's tragic news of a "giant" bomb blast in Oslo. During my lunch break, naturally, I went online to get more details.

On Twitter, both "Oslo" and "Norway" were trending; and I quickly found a curated list from the Washington Post of useful sources to follow about the Norway blast.

Google Plus? Well, the current lack of search is crippling -- there's no way within Plus to find items mentioning the attacks. The search for people within Plus appears just looks through names, so "Oslo" finds people with the first name Oslo, not journalists or government officials based there. And, results from Sparks -- a way to follow topics within Google+ -- appear less useful than going straight to Google News.

Meanwhile, my stream of posts seems to have Google+ as the top news of the day most days, regardless of what's going on in the rest of the world.

I know that some of this has to do with the limited number of Google+ users -- not to mention the small number of people I've found to follow so far. Another issue has to do with Google+ still being in such early beta -- I find it hard to believe that at some point Google wouldn't add a more robust search capability.

Even if Plus had more users and better search, though, there's still the issue of how the posts display. When each item can include multiple paragraphs, several comments and sometimes fairly large images, I rarely see more than two items per screen. And that makes scanning rather tough. Without a more streamlined viewing option, Google+ simply isn't designed for making quick sense out of large amounts of data.

It's still unclear how Google+ will grow and evolve. As of today, though, it's hard for me to agree with those who argue that Google+ could take the place Twitter holds in the social networking arena.

Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is smachlis@computerworld.com. You can follow her on Twitter

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