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Well, earlier today (depending on where you are, of course), Google+ started rolling out Google Communities.

The service is brand new, so I don’t have much of an opinion about it yet.  I’ve just joined a makers/hackers/engineers/artists community, as these are things I think are cool and I reckon it’ll be a really interesting example of a community in action (it already has well over 500 people in it!).

The reasoning behind Communities is, in the words of Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior VP of engineering,

What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there.

It offers public or private groups/membership, discussion categories, the ability to share (through +1) with a community, and hangouts/event planning for groups, too.

Anyhoo, here’s what Google says about it*. And there are already _lots_ of groups.  I see ol’ +Fraser Cain** has started one about space, for example, and I see groups covering Star Wars, Parenting, Call of Duty, Exploration, knitting, sports and more.

I can see the idea having merit, frankly.  Yes, circles (and the sharing thereof) is a great way to start building communities of people, but I think having dedicated spaces to which people can go, is also pretty cool. Of course, there are already all kinds of spaces out there already for fans of things, but I still think this might work well, given that Google+ has 135 million active users (certainly, the people I follow/who follow me seem to be pretty active!).

Google’s also just released the Android app for snapseed, an instagram-type photo tweaking and sharing app which has been available on the iPad since last year. It’s _also_ available on iPhones and, and here’s the kicker, Google’s made dropped the price tag to make it a free app. Also, they’ve added a Google+ sharing integration feature (the lack of which on my iPhone up until now has really irritated me). I’m just downloaded the app and am definitely going to be playing with it :)

And given the implosion which has taken place between Twitter and Instagram, well, the timing’s certainly not bad either!

Are you a member of any communities yet? What do you think of the idea?

UPDATE: It looks like we can’t currently create our own Communities.  But the ability to do so does exist… Here’s an image describing how people are feeling about that :P

UPDATE: Yep, the ability to create a Community has now been unlocked…I’ve made this one.

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For those of who who climb onto the very-much-debuncked ‘Google+ is a ghost-town and useless’ wagon, the service has 500 million users of which 135 million are active users.  Also, if you believe that, I’d suggest asking other Google+ers who are active on the service, what they think. In my experience, they don’t agree :) Like anything else, what you put in is what you get out – if you aren’t connected with people, and actively engaging then, well, it probably WILL look like it’s deserted.  Like walking down the high street at lunchtime with your head wrapped in a bag.

Here’s Read Write Web on the subject.

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* I freely admit to enjoying spending a couple of seconds playing with the bouncy spheres at the top of the page. Small minds, and all that :P

** Mentioned in yesterday’s post on deSTEMber.

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Also, ARG!  Ingress almost, ALMOST makes me want to get an Android phone. It’s torture watching people play it :P