Already using Google+? Follow Mashable’s Pete Cashmore for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as social media and technology updates.
While we’ve yet to find out how Google+’s ‘Hangouts’ will mature and evolve, we’ve already seen some great uses of the built-in, group video conferencing service.
Although the tech for Hangouts has been around for years, it seems the simplicity of the Google solution is getting people’s creative juices going. From intimate concerts to a new way of co-working via cooking lessons, Google Plussers are making the most of the functionality in fun, new ways.
Take a look at the way Google Plussers have been using Hangouts in the short time since the service has been live. Please share in the comments any innovative or exciting uses you’ve come across.
1. Writer’s Co-Working Hangout
Do you like the idea of co-working, but wish there could be more cats? That’s the innovative use of Hangouts from Mary Robinette Kowal, puppeteer and award-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey.
Kowal explained the concept of ‘Writer Hangouts’ to Mashable. ‘They are a co-working thing and are very much like the idea of meeting people in real life at a coffee shop, but with the added benefit of having more control over your environment. As a writer, I’ll often schedule writing dates at my local coffee shop, just to get myself out of the apartment. Writing can be so solitary sometimes.’
‘With the G+ Hangouts, I’m able to do the same thing, but with people from all over the world. At the last Hangout, we had people from Ireland, the Netherlands, and three of the U.S.’s timezones.’
While in the Hangout, the participants minimize the Hangout view when in the midst of writing, but stop for scheduled breaks where they can chat, socialze, generally have a water-cooler moment and (as in the screengrab above showing Rebecca Blain) show off their kitties.
‘I’m lucky in that I live in a city with a lot of writers, so real life hangouts are easy,’ says Kowal, who offers some advice for anyone interested in starting their own Writer’s Hangout. ‘The Google+ Hangouts are fantastic for writers who feel isolated. They take the lonely out of writing.’
2. Cooking Lessons
If you love cooking and socializing, then a Google+ cooking Hangout might be for you. Self-confessed ‘food geek’ Lee Allison saw the potential of Google+’s new video conferencing service, and has launched the Google+ Cooking School.
Allison’s ‘number one cooking rule’ is ‘never cook for someone when you can cook with someone.’ Participants pre-buy
the list of ingredients, as posted on Google+ by Allison, and make delicious food under his instruction. Dishes tackled so far include
potstickers, gyro flatbreads, poissons en papillote (fish wrapped in paper) and chicken paella, with more planned soon.
The cusinine-themed Hangouts have gained momentum quickly. ‘We have always had full rooms. They are quite popular with several folks who return again and again. I’m hoping that my delivery, skills and technical production get better each time,’ says the web chef.
‘The best part about Hangouts is how simple and effective they are. I love the immediacy and personal interaction.’
3. Live Concerts
Live music delivered via the web is nothing new, but Google+ has brought an intimacy that is wowing music fans
and musicians alike.
‘I had just thought it would be fun to play a show where I didn’t have to lug my amps through the rain,’ says Musk. ‘I ended up discovering a global community of thousands of G+niuses [her Google+ fans] whose faces I will always know, whose excitement about my music I will always cherish, who will forever be in my heart.’
Musk’s first Hangout concert was held on July 16. News soon spread around the social web and thousands of Google Plussers were soon vying for one of the 10 slots. The demand led Google’s director of engineering, Chee Chew, to ‘daisy-chain’ Hangouts so more people could view the show. It lasted for 6.5 hours. Since then Musk has performed twice more, putting in 7.5-hour performances.
Musk told Mashable about that first performance. ‘As I performed through the night in a little studio in the woods of Connecticut, I got to see the sunrise in Norway, watch little girls dancing to my songs on an Australian Sunday morning, see the city lights in Buenos Aires, the smiling face of a woman in Malaysia… G+ changed my life forever in a night.’
4. A Marathon Hangout
The pair has started the Google+ ‘Marathon Hangout,’ a non-stop video chat session that began in Mark Olsen’s basement at 5:45pm on July 20, 2011, and has since celebrated a solid week on air. ‘The goal was to be the longest Hangout session ever and have the most interactions. This goal has been met,’ says Olsen.
Those interactions have so far been astonishing. Available via Google+ and also streamed live over on HangOutOnGPlus, Olsen estimates as many as 5,000 people have joined in, with many more viewing the stream.
‘It has been simply amazing to have people from around the globe come in and interact with us regarding many topics, but primarily about social media, Google+ and Google Hangouts,’ says Olsen.
As well as ‘ordinary’ Plussers, Hangout participants have included Michael Dell, Michael Mozart of Fail Toys and even Google staffers who have been advising the Olsens (and their informal team of helpers).