If you’re anything like me (and since you’re reading this post, you probably are), you do one of two things upon booting-up your computer: 1) Open your browser, or 2) open your e-mail client – if it’s not your browser. Being online / networked is pretty much a necessary part of computing. If you don’t believe me, just unplug your network cable, and turn off your WiFi. I can assure you the experience won’t be very satisfying.
There’s one company that gets it, and as far as I’m concerned, is leading the movement to Software As A Service (SaaS) for the general internet user: Google. I’m still really new to using a lot of Google’s services and applications outside of Search, but here’s what I can tell you so far. These services are easy to setup, they’re pervasive, and they simply work. You hearing this, Microsoft? My Google odyssey began with my reading of Six Pixel’s Of Separation by Mitch Joel. In his book, Mitch writes about personal branding, and being able to leverage Web 2.0 services to grow your personal (and your business’) brand. The first step to doing this is to be aware of what people are saying about you or your business online. Here’s what I did…
- Setup a Gmail account: Even if you have an existing e-mail account, or two or three. The gmail account is the account name that will be employed to utilize many of Google’s services. Don’t forget to review all your contacts to see if any of them have gmail accounts. If so, invite them as friends.
- Setup Google Alerts: It’s important to know what people are saying about you and where. With the Google Alerts service, you can literally have Google notify you (on a frequency you determine), when your name is mentioned… pretty much anywhere on the internet. You can also setup notifications for other important words or phrases, like the title of your blog, or important events, etc. You can obviously configure the Alerts to go to your newly created Gmail account.
- Checkout iGoogle: This will replace your typical ‘Classic View’ Google search page. It has all sorts of applets and widgets that you can configure based on your preferences. Basically, tailoring the Google page to your own personal preferences. Note: it may take a little longer to load the page than before, so you will have to judge if it’s worth it.
- Gotta Go Mobile: Google maps is really a more robust application than most other mapping software for your GPS-enabled smartphone. Also, if you’re building your network of Gmail friends, you can configure Latitude to track whether any of them are in your general area at a given time. It’s actually kind of cool.
- Register your blog (if you have one): with Google Blog Search, although that’s the one service that I have not gotten to work correctly yet for this blog! If there’s anyone with suggestions out there, please let me know…
Google obviously dominates internet Search, and has for years, but they are really getting into cloud services surrounding personal productivity. Even more recently, hitting enterprise customers with some impressive results. The best part is that (right now) all these services are free, and they are actively innovating these solutions. Stay tuned for a post on Google Wave!