What Is Google+ And What Does It Do?

Just this week we started using Google+ to see what all the hype was about. At first we were unimpressed with the simple profiles and the lack of customization options but soon after we remembered a time when Facebook was the same way. There is no doubt that over time Google+ will grow and develop into a more diversified and detailed social network but in the meantime, it’s a nice reminder that sometimes less is more. Whether you haven’t been able to wrangle up an invite yet, you have no interest in trying it out, you hate Google, love Google or are obsessed with Facebook, this post will give you some insight into Google+ features and help you make that tough decision; to use or not to use?

Google+ places a strong emphasis on privacy features and tends to shy away from universal openness exhibited by other social networks like Twitter. Everything you do and share on Google+ revolves around your circles. These circles represent different acquaintances in your life. They are personalized and organized by you into groups such as friends, family, professional etc. Whenever you upload new content or update your status on Google+, you have the option to specify which circles can see your content.

We all like certain things and it’s no surprise that we want to follow topics online, share information and start a conversation with people who share the same interests. Sparks is a feature offered by Google+ that allows users to do just that. Just enter your interests in the Sparks search bar and Google immediately delivers a feed of content from across the internet on any topic you want in over 40 languages. You can even bookmark topics for quick future access. Sparks is well organized, visually appealing and easy to navigate making it a must-use feature that’s bound to take up a lot of your time!

Everyone loves to socialize so it’s no surprise that Google+ has managed to incorporate Hangouts as a unique feature on it’s network. Hangouts allows up to ten people to participate in a group video chat. The best part about this feature is that anyone can launch it and when you do so, it shows up in your activity stream so any of your circle contacts that are online can join in at any time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a Google+ favourite!

Mobile Apps
Almost everyone has a smartphone these days so mobile applications are growing in popularity. Instant Upload is a photo sharing app that lets you add photos directly from your phone into a private album that you can share with anyone in just one click. As of yet, there is no limit on the file size, the number of albums or the number of photos. When it comes to video uploading, Google+ has restrictions that limit each video to 15 minutes but they allow up to 1080p resolution.

Have you ever tried texting four of your friends at once to try and plan a movie date? With Huddle, a group messaging app, you can let all your friends within a certain circle know what’s going on and you can all chat together in one place at the same time. It’s essentially like Blackberry messenger for Android devices.

Unfortunately these mobile apps are geared towards Android devices for the time being and there’s no telling if mobile apps will ever be available for Blackberry or iPhone users. Based on Google’s relationship with Apple, I doubt the apps will ever be compatible with Apple products but only time will tell.

Google+ is definitely a work in progress. There are no doubt bugs that need to be fixed and kinks that need to be worked out but it seems like the foundation has been set and from what we can tell, it’s solid this time. Long gone are the days of Orkut, Wave and Buzz. Hopefully this time Google hits a home run and gives Facebook a run for their money. With a sleek user-interface that makes excellent use of white space, new innovative features and simple functionality, Google+ is positioned to make it’s mark on social networking. Have you tried it yet? Let us know what you think!

Networking With Your Smartphone

It seems like the process of networking has changed a lot over the past few years with the development of new technology. Gone are the days of filing business cards and keeping business contacts on blocked social media profiles. Things have changed and the wide world of mobile apps has a lot to do with it. We’re using our smartphones to make our lives easier in every aspect so why not use them when we make new connections? Take a look at our top three mobile apps to help push your networking practices into the 21st century.

Described as the “ultimate networking app,” Hashable offers a unique user experience that takes it roots from the check-in craze. Sure, all your friends are checking in to restaurants and TV shows, but have you ever considered the concept of checking in with a person? Luckily for us, Hashable has! As a user you can track your meetings, calls and other events either privately or publicly which makes it easier for you to remember who you spoke with and why. You can type in another persons email address or Twitter username to exchange contact information directly with them and you can even expand your network by watching who your friends connect with.

One of the great things about Hashable is it allows you to connect and network on the go through your smartphone so if you make a connection in an unexpected place, you don’t have to worry about not having a stack of business cards on you. What Hashable focuses on is tracking your strongest relationships and in a world so heavily dependant on constant communication, this free app makes the stress of networking and keeping in touch less of a burden.

Have you ever lost an important business card and in turn, an important contact? If you answered yes then this app is definitely for you! CardMunch allows you to take a photo of a business card and it then pulls important information like the name, phone number, email, website, and address, and creates a new contact on your phone in seconds so you’ll always have that contact’s information no matter where you go. Business card enthusiasts can leave their binders at home because this app will save you a lot of storage space! With a simple flip of your phone you can also view all the business cards you’ve snapped photos of in a beautiful rolodex style.

If you’re a fond user of Linkedin, you’ll be happy to know that CardMunch is owned by Linkedin so scanning a contact’s business card and adding them to Linkedin through the app is only a one-click process. As a user you’ll also have the option to use the search function if you’re looking for someone but can’t quite remember his/her name. As for storage, CardMunch can either add your contacts to your iPhone address book or create a separate CardMunch address book to keep you more organized; the choice is yours. On top of all these features is peace of mind. CardMunch automatically backs up all the contacts you’ve added through the app on your web account so you can log in anytime, anywhere, and retrieve lost data.

I think the best part about this app is that it’s completely free! As networking professionals, we’re always looking for tools to make mundane tasks easier and to integrate social media into our every day lives so CardMunch is definitely worth it!

Networking online can be a difficult process. It’s never easy to find the right people in the right place and as a business person you never want to scare them away with a sales pitch. The folks at Quora must have asked themselves, “Why doesn’t the internet have a place where professionals of any ranking can ask business questions and participate in conversation?” After some intense brainstorming and planning, Quora was born! As a networking professional, using your skills online is important and Quora helps connect you to a vast array of people including CEO’s of major North American companies and even business enthusiasts who just want a place to connect and talk.

Using your knowledge on a specific subject to help another business person in need, is better than any hard sale tactic that would typically drive them away. What Quora does is give you an opportunity to show others what you’re made of and have intelligent discussions about topics that are near and dear to you. As a user you can ask or answer any questions you want, you can follow topics that interest you, communicate through messages, add connections and create a biography. You can log in via the website or through the free app for your smartphone. This is one social network you can’t afford to miss out on!

How The Modern Day Documentary ‘Catfish’ Shines A New Light On Social Media Identity Theft

If I’ve learned anything from the documentary Catfish, it’s that you never really know who you’re talking to online. As scary as it sounds, it’s actually relevant in modern day life especially with the recent boom of social media that seems to foster identity theft and deceit. Do you really know if the person in the profile photo is who they say they are? This film explores that realm and discovers that the answer is no.


Websites like Facebook and Myspace are praised for bringing people together and allowing communication even though the other person is miles away. What we seem to lose sight of very quickly is that we’re sitting in front of a screen with absolutely no idea who is on the other side of the conversation. Yaniv “Nev” Schulman is a 24-year-old photographer who, after having one of his photos published in a magazine, receives a painting in the mail by an 8-year-old girl in Michigan named Abby. Retreating to his online domain (Facebook), Nev connects with Abby and soon enough develops a close relationship with not only the 8-year-old girl, but also her mother Angela and older sister Megan. As Nev’s relationship with the family begins to grow, his filmmaking brother Ariel and their friend Henry, decide to begin documenting this journey to see where it ultimately leads.

What Ariel and Henry originally intended to document was Abby’s artistic ability and every day inspiration but by the end of the film you realize it has become the perfect analysis of the modern day social networking age. At some point along the way the story shifts from Nev and Abby to Nev and Megan who begin an impersonal love affair that is a superficial common place in today’s society. They communicate via text message, online chat and phone calls, yet all Nev knows about Megan is what he’s gathered from her Facebook profile page. It seems as though he is in love with an online profile, not an actual person.

The underlying theme doesn’t evolve until later on in the film but the influence, and seemingly strong foothold of the Internet, is apparent throughout. This film is about more than an online bond, it’s about society’s shift away from human interaction into an age of artificial and hollow relationships based on unstable foundations and naivety. Essentially the vast portion of this film has us looking over Nev’s shoulders as he sends online chat messages, posts comments on Megan’s wall, and uses Google street view to discuss locations or travel destinations.

Aside from its extremely creative and unique depiction, many critics are left wondering if the film’s ending was fact or fiction. So far reviews are mixed from the general public who argue that the handheld camera style is nauseating and that the movie has no right to consider itself a “thriller”. Either way, Catfish is sure to make an impression and change the way you think next time you find yourself chatting with a stranger online.

The Social Network On The Big Screen

The much anticipated movie, The Social Network, hits theatres today across the country and while many are skeptical or simply not interested, at Blab we are extremely excited to see social media in the spotlight for once. When I was younger I used to joke about the fact that directors were running out of ideas for original films so they started using books and true stories and anything pre-established that they could get their hands on. Now with the age of social media upon us, Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin have taken advantage of the hype surrounding Facebook and have placed Mark Zuckerberg’s life on the big screen.

The movie is based on Ben Mezrich’s 2009 non-fiction novel The Accidental Billionaires yet none of the Facebook staff or employees, including the founder Mark Zuckerberg, were involved with the project. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t have much to say about the movie but he did comment state “I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive.” He has also stated to Oprah Winfrey that the film is mostly fiction and that he was more hard working than his on-screen portrayal.

Filming began October 2009 in Cambridge, Massachusetts where two prep school campuses and Wheelock College were set up to look like Harvard. Ever since the filming of Love Story in 1970 that caused significant campus damage, Harvard has turned down most requests for on-location filming. According to the director, the first scene of the movie where Mark is with his girlfriend took an astonishing 99 takes to finish!

The movie begins in 2003 and follows Harvard sophomore and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg as he begins toying with the idea for a university version of Hot or Not. Inspired by his idea, Harvard classmates the Winklevoss twins begin helping Mark create “Harvard Connection”, an online community for Harvard students. Once established, Mark decides to perfect this idea and use it to create “The Facebook” which immediately becomes a campus success. Betrayed and enraged, his classmates bring him to Federal court on charges of intellectual property theft. The movie follows Mark in his journey to create the most popular website on the Internet while he burns bridges along the way.

The movie has received universal acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes, a popular online movie review website, reports that 97% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 54 reviews, with an average score of 9.5/10. What do the critics have to say? “Impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, The Social Network is a riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.”

At Blab, we are really excited to see The Social Network on the big screen, especially the story of how Facebook came to be. While older generations are likely to ignore the movie, it should be a huge hit with teenagers and middle –aged adults who engage with the website daily. From the trailer, it looks to be a very well directed film with an excellent cast (Jesse Eisenberg, and Justin Timberlake to name a few).

Watch the trailer, go see the movie and let us know what you think!