Gmail Inboxes More Social With Mingly Plug-In

November 11, 2011 by · Comments Off on Gmail Inboxes More Social With Mingly Plug-In 

Heartening — and social — news are coming to your Gmail inboxes. The source of the scoop is Mingly; and it’s actually the news itself. The self-dubbed “personal relationship management tool” was released as a plug-in for Gmail this week. Think of it as a way to unite, harmoniously, your social feeds and email messages — something that could be irremediably messy, à la Google Buzz, but isn’t, because it’s something totally different.

So, what goodies does this plug-in bring to the table? For starters, it’ll give you the ability to synch your Gmail and (webby) social contacts in a “social address book” of Mingly’s creation. Another thing is that once the tool is in place, and you’re composing an email, you’ll get to see the recipient’s updates and maybe even his or her self-written, character-limited biography. And something that can’t be glossed over is that among its rather substantive nifty features, Mingly will also let you send tweets and Facebook and LinkedIn messages from your Gmail inbox.

If you want Mingly for you Gmail, head over to and keep in mind that it works on Firefox and Chrome browsers. The same press release that announced the plug-in’s launch, also stated that Mingly’s makers were working to make their tool operational on other email services.

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Business World Says Hello to Google+ Pages

November 7, 2011 by · Comments Off on Business World Says Hello to Google+ Pages 

Google+ is now officially open for business and to business. Entrepreneurs who were pining for the missing, and increasingly important, social network in their consumer outreach portfolios can now stop holding their breath and create a new business online home asap. The business section of Google+ will go by the slightly retro moniker “Google+ Pages” — an echo of the still delivered, but rarely used, Yellow Pages. Google has made the new business tool available worldwide.

Businesses, brands, and organizations were initially excluded from Google+ because, by Google’s own account, the recently launched social network was not fully outfitted for engagement with those types of entities. Google was so strict on this rule that businesses that rushed to join saw their accounts abruptly terminated, posthaste. The doors are now open and music groups will also be delegated to Google+ Pages — All American Rejects are already set up there.

Along with the Pages, a new search feature has also been rolled out: Direct Connect. Direct Connect allows searchers to type in the plus sign [+] before the name of a band or business. The plus sign will zip users to that organization’s home in the Google+ Pages. For clarity’s sake, Google has also pointed out that its Pages now form part of Google search results.

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In Order: Improved Sociability and Google+ Incorporation for YouTube

November 3, 2011 by · Comments Off on In Order: Improved Sociability and Google+ Incorporation for YouTube 

YouTube has been the property of Google for a good number of years now, but as its parent company reaches out for improved sociability and “sharing” features, the famed democratizing broadcaster of video content still has some maturation to undergo. To help YouTube achieve its full social potential, Google acquired the startup Fflick, along with its sharp development team. The goal is to have Fflick’s developers helm YouTube’s integration into Google+, the online behemoth’s newfangled social network.

Out of Fflick’s team of four developers, Ron Gorodetzky has been getting especially good press — Nathan Olivarez-Giles, a Los Angeles Times tech writer, recently profiled him. In the piece, Gorodetzky says that selling Fflick to Google, a mere six months after launching it, was not a decision he took lightly. Google zeroed in on Fflick’s ability to take social data and content — like tweets and online conversations about movies — to create useful applications. Fflick’s most prominent product was a movie recommendation website based on just such materials.

Although Gorodetzky did not divulge any technical details of how the integration of YouTube was going, he did mention that his bosses were trying to extract more useful information form YouTube comments. He also made it clear that Google had most definitely turned its focus to “sharing.”

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Two Nobel Laureates Hangout on Google+

October 7, 2011 by · Comments Off on Two Nobel Laureates Hangout on Google+ 

It could only be expected that a figure who all around the world is greeted with hundreds of people camping out for days to hear him speak, would be no slowpoke when it came to embracing social media. That’s certainly the case with the Dalai Lama. He’s set a date for a Google+ hangout with Archbishop Desmond Tutu — both men count a Nobel among their ribboned hard metals.

There’s a reason for the hangout: Archbishop Tutu’s home country, South Africa, denied the visa request filed by the Dalai Lama to attend his friend’s 80th birthday celebration. It’s believed that South Africa was pressured by China, whose economic investment in the country is significant, to deny the request. The Dalai Lama is considered “subversive” by the Chinese government.

Regardless of their geographical separation, the two spiritual leaders will be coming together for some screen time this Saturday, October 8th at 1:30 am PT. Archbishop Tutu’s birthday was on Thursday, October 6th.

The Archbishop had some harsh words for his president: “Hey Mr. Zuma, you and your government don’t represent me,” and went on with: “You represent your own interests.”

Tony Ehrenreich, a leader of the important coalition of South African trade unions, Cosatu, preempted him earlier in the week with the following comments: “Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan.”

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Google+ Now Available to All

September 20, 2011 by · Comments Off on Google+ Now Available to All 

Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, today took to the company’s official blog to post about Google+’s newest added features, numbered 92-100, respectively. The biggest news out of his rather longish list was really the 100th: as of now, anybody who wants one can sign up for a Google+ account, that’s with or without an invitation from a peer with more social media diligence.

If Google is really intent about catching up with Facebook’s accumulated 750 million users, opening its social network to everyone is a move in the right direction because unlatching the floodgates is bound to do much in terms of bridging the remaining gulf.

Also announced were a Google+ search feature, new tools for screen sharing, shared doodling, and a rattle of tweaks for Hangouts — these last can now be named, accessed through mobile phones, and recorded and broadcast live. The fresh cherry on top is that Hangouts APIs have also been released. Google+ has been out for less than 90 days, so all this amounts to more than one daily improvement that’s been introduced since day número uno.

Gundotra’s post also touched on Google’s newfangled — and still challenging — focus: “bring[ing] the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software.”

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Google Hands Out Badges to Competitive Readers

July 18, 2011 by · Comments Off on Google Hands Out Badges to Competitive Readers 

This week Google is keeping its social momentum going by setting free onto the web its new Google News badges. It’s definitely a social feature for those who like to share, and let’s just say it out right, brag a little about all the stuff they read. Yes, for these folks, badges that track reading and prominently display to others their “badge level” are just the thing. The badges are sharable among Google contacts.

The reader-rank system uses badges that cover many topics. According to Natasha Mohanty, the author of the Google Blog post that revealed the news, there’s more than 500 types of badges for competitive readers to collect. Among those categories, readers can aspire to reach, in descending order, Ultimate, Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels on any given subject.

Google dishes out the badges to users who do their politics, sports, and other daily fare reading through Google News and have their web browser history enabled; it’s also necessary for readers to be logged into their Google accounts while they tire their eyes out a bit.

Google, once again stressing its hard-earned user-privacy sensitivity, is letting people know that the badges are “private by default,” which is another way of saying that they’re going about the introduction of their new features in way that’s very unlike Facebook. Even once users opt to share their badges, the specific articles they’ve read to achieve their status will remain private.

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Privacy Revolution @ Google+?

July 13, 2011 by · Comments Off on Privacy Revolution @ Google+? 

Although Google+ has been greatly lauded for tackling (and side-stepping) certain privacy issues that have plagued Facebook for the eons it’s been since its 2004 inception, what is actually being referred to here is a revolution of social networking heads of state. More specifically, the fact that Larry Page, Vic Gundotra, and Sergey Brin, all three top-billing execs at Google, and numbers two, three, and four, respectively, on the Google+ rankings, have upped their privacy settings by concealing the number of people they have in Circles (friends) and the number of people that follow them. By concealing the numbers, they’ve lost their place on the rankings.

No one is thinking this is a coincidence, most especially because Google+’s most popular user, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, had the idea to change his Google+ account’s privacy settings at the exact same time and in the exact same way as the Google captains. There’s no official word about what prompted the apparently unified front to act as it did, or how Zuckerberg benefits from relinquishing a prized number one spot on his big competitor’s network. Nathan Olivarez-Giles, who covers the Los Angeles Times’ tech beat, is positing that the privacy revival at Google+ might be Google’s attempt to bring “content and interaction” into focus instead of “popularity,” which in some ways is at the very heart of Facebook. But his theory still doesn’t explain Zuckerberg’s involvement.

As things stand, the new number one is the technology writer Robert Scoble. (The new number five is Tom Anderson).

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Google+ Running a Pilot Program for Business Profiles

July 7, 2011 by · Comments Off on Google+ Running a Pilot Program for Business Profiles 

Christian Oestlien, a Google+ advertising lead, published a blog post yesterday giving notice of Google’s policy of temporarily “discouraging” businesses and “non-user entities” like teams, locations, or organizations from joining its new social network. The reasoning behind the unexpected stance is that Google is working on the construction of an “amazing Google+ experience for businesses” that will be completed before the year is over.

To that end Google will be operating a pilot program on Google+ with selected marketing partners. Acknowledging that the way “users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands,” Oestlien said that Google wanted to “create an optimal experience for both.” In an appended video, he added that such an experience would include “rich analytics and the ability to connect [the Google+] identity to other parts of Google that businesses might use on a daily basis, like AdWords.”

In the meantime, Google will be taking down non-user profiles already up on Google+. While they wait for what’s coming, business and other entities not falling under the “user” category can go to to request inclusion in the pilot program.

It seems Google is finally figuring out how to express its new-found commitment to sociability in its products. Google+ is so far proving to be a big success, providing features comparable to Facebook’s and even many that improve on those of its much-touted rival.

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Google’s Very Own Facebook Is Out

June 28, 2011 by · Comments Off on Google’s Very Own Facebook Is Out 

If you’ve gotten an invitation, you can now start using Google+, which is Google’s still-in-development, but quite nifty, version of Facebook. It promises to give you one more place to make status updates, share last night’s scrumptious dinner pictures, see what your friends are up to, and let your boyfriend know that the two of you are definitely no longer an item. As a bonus, Google is throwing in some services like group video chatting and texting.

As things stand, Google+ is the search giant’s most pointed rebuttal to Facebook. It’s also Google’s most polished social networking service. Given the adverse fallout of its previous social networking belly dives — Buzz and Orkut, which engendered a punitive settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and zilch popularity, respectively — Google is being scrupulous about its new network’s sharing mechanisms. As the Official Google Blog takes pains to explain, sharing will not be done wholesale, but piecemeal through designated groups.

The New York Times was not alone in highlighting the following facts:

In May, 180 million people visited Google sites, including YouTube, versus 157.2 million on Facebook, according to comScore. But Facebook users looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, while Google users viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes.

Google knows it’s losing its once firm grip on the web’s information because a great deal of online data remains cloistered inside Facebook. Clearly in an attempt at differentiation, Google has left out Facebook’s infamous Friend moniker for the people you add to your groups. Other than that, it seems an awfully lot like Facebook and it can’t be too long before you get an invitation to try it out and compare.

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Google Map Maker Open to U.S. Contributors

April 21, 2011 by · Comments Off on Google Map Maker Open to U.S. Contributors 

Google is staying on track with its publicly stated goal to both deepen and broaden every social aspect of its offerings. First came the +1 announcement, which introduced a new search feature that makes it possible to give and view ratings of Google search results. Now, posted just this week on Google’s official blog, is news that folks in the U.S. will now be able to make cartographical contributions online.

“Today we’re opening the map of the United States in Google Map Maker for you to add your expert local knowledge directly,” wrote Lalitesh Katragadda, Google’s Map Maker Tech Lead, together with Manik Gupta, Product Manager. They continued, “You know your neighborhood or hometown best, and with Google Map Maker you can ensure the places you care about are richly represented on the map.” The new contributions — made via public editing — will be reviewed and approved by Google before being published. Google says that approvals for public contributions should take only a few minutes.

Map Maker made its first appearance halfway through 2008. It uses a browser-based interface and has proved itself beyond serviceable as a method for creating high quality maps in areas where very little online data was available. At last count, 183 countries had access to Map Maker. Maybe Canada will be next.

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