Google+: Now Available for UMN Google Accounts (Long Post)

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In the last two weeks, Google+ has become available for UMN Google accounts. You can tell it's live because if you're logged into your email, then in the black bar across the top of the tab at the very far left of the screen will be "+YourFirstName", e.g. "+Amy" for me.

If you click on the "+YourName", you'll be walked through basic setup.

Now, here's the thing. You might already have been using Google+ with a non-UMN account. Or you might want to add someone to your circles who's been using a non-UMN account. In neither case will you necessarily be able to tell the difference. Nor will other users wishing to add you.

So, before I show you ways to disambiguate your accounts, I think it's worth talking just a little about whether you should even care that you can't necessarily tell which account you're adding to your circles.

After all, the big promise in Google+ is that it can act as a hub for an integrated, relatively complete online identity which, because it's tied to Google Search and other products, can provide some really useful exposure across the web.

Some people have noted that since the purpose of a circle is to help target content to specific groups, it should therefore not really matter which one you use or which account you choose to follow.

However, I see at least a few reasons why it would matter which account goes with which colleagues. One, making sure you're connecting with the right account for the right people means you're starting out with the right context (h/t Nancy Sims for this useful way of phrasing). For example, if you're using your work Google+ and you use a mobile device and you failed to modify the default photo sharing settings on your mobile device, you might find yourself sharing photographs of boots you want to buy with, say, your supervisor's supervisor. This isn't tragic - everyone needs shoes and it's a not a question of propriety, but it may not be the first thing you want that person to think of when they think of you.

Two, it's very likely that Google Docs, Sites, Calendar et al will soon be tied to Google+. Because you may put things like "don't forget to scoop the cat boxes tomorrow" on your personal calendar as opposed to your work calendar for a reason, you similarly may wish to consider just how closely you want your personal and professional identities to be connected.

Three, it means that items you share in Google Reader, things that amuse you in general web searching, photos you post, etc must always, always, always be checked very carefully to ensure that you're sharing with those and only those you wish to. It means that you may be spending an awful lot of time manually locking posts to prevent re-sharing.

It seems to me that, given the centrality of Google services for most of us in the Libraries whether personal or professional, that we could just save ourselves a lot of time by keeping our accounts (as) separate (as possible). By taking this approach, we put some time in up front to think about what kind of identity we want to create, but then we don't have to spend as much later on making the same decisions on a case by case basis.

Whew.

Ok. So. What can you do to simplify this process for your colleagues?

You can go to your Profile in Google+, click on the Edit Profile button to the upper right and then do any of the following:

  1. List your current place of employment
  2. List your current job title
  3. Just below your name, add a brief bio indicating that this is indeed your work account. See my profile for an example.

Then when someone looks you up and gets that little envelope-shaped icon with your name and picture (if you have loaded one), they should also see at least one of these fields. It appears, based on some experimentation just now, that current place of employment gets first priority, current job title second priority, places you've lived third priority and brief bio the fourth or lower priority. So, if you decide to share with the whole world that you work at the UMN, then it'll just say "University of Minnesota". If you limit that field to any group - say just to the UMN - or fail to fill it in, then the little envelope should show your job title and so forth.

Similarly, you can modify the profile on your personal account so that it prioritizes personal information over work-related information.

I know this is a fairly long post, so if you've read this far, thanks for sticking it out!

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This page contains a single entry by Amy West published on November 15, 2011 12:20 PM.

Coffee Club: Collaboration in the Cloud was the previous entry in this blog.

e-Professionalism is the next entry in this blog.

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