My friends are probably sick and tired about me talking and writing about Google’s new social media network Google Plus, but one of the nice new features being rolled out by the service is referred to as “sparks” which are categories of topics which are tailored for each individual user based on his or her particular interests. These topics are then fed into the user’s page via a sytem simlar to facebook’s wall.
In other words, you have a news feed of every interesting article regarding the topic you choose, and there appears to be no limit to the number of sparks you can be reading about.
For example in my page right now are sparks dealing with mmorpg topics like LOTRO, ddo, chess and cal poly pomona (my alma matter) but to name a few.
Facebook has a similar feature and it’s a big way in which their algorithms appear to track the user’s interest in order to tailor specific ads to target them with, but google’s seems to be less intrusive and more intuitive.
Consequently, I think this is what news outlets in the digital age are coming to, strictly speaking from a journalistic perspective, I am not really sure if sparks are good or bad. In a sense, a surfing experience unique to the end user is already happening, as people have bookmarked their sites and always return again and again to the pages and websites they like most, there is even a feature on most browsers to customize one’s start page to whatever one pleases, but sparks tailor the experience to the individual and traditional media has always been about reaching a mass audience.
As far as gaming is concerned, it’s a pretty nifty tool to have in your arsenal if you are a webmaster, a blogger, or just a casual or hard core gamer looking for the latest patch notes, news, or developer insights. I could just Google World of Warcraft of course and get the latest news, but the feed eliminates a lot of the unwanted junk that comes up like sites dedicated to selling me a leveling guide, the game’s official page and the wiki and goes straight for the latest news about the game. I really like that.
Of course, the true potential of google’s emerging social network and its sparks feature as an extension of it won’t be fully realized until after the testing phase is complete, or when and if the social network takes off. Like a friend put it, “Google+ so far is like a party the Chess Club & the Mathletes are throwing and everyone is at the Frat Party (Facebook)”
What do the rest of you think?