If you're not on already, it might be a little while. New users have been shut down due to "insanely high demand," according to Google. Is this a contrived way to get more buzz? Exclusivity is a recipe for demand. Here is a purported loophole to the blockade, but my experimentation with it did not work.
UPDATE: Many spammers are exploiting the demand for invites by luring suckers with phishing scams. Don't enter your email address or jump through any other hoops in an effort to snag one. If you're not in, you aren't going to get in by doing something shady. Also: Contrary to much of the conversation going on, attaining an invite does not get you in. Entry to the Google+ platform by new users, not the sending and receiving of invites, is where the holdup is occurring. Someone can send you an invite that you still can't use. Will this lockout end after the holiday weekend, when there is a flurry of iterations happening? Don't know.
- In a nutshell, Google+ is Facebook like, with innovations in three areas: Grouping of connections; integration with search and surf; cool communicating gizmos.
- Grouping app Circles is the game-changer, an easy, intuitive, right-in-front-of-you segmentation of your connections into different groups to provide instant levels of privacy. Think Facebook friends lists, but built right in. So your boss won't see party pics.
- Communications app Hangouts is hilarious, a video phone functionality with a group, so you're all talking heads. Skype meets the beginning of "The Brady Bunch."
- Search and surf apps +1 and Sparks are an undertaking. They're not intuitive, but in the long run might be a very helpful improvement in "the semantic web," showing you what you're interested in online.
- Another function, the instant upload of photos from your phone, is scary. Sorry, I don't want everything I snap on my phone going anywhere - even if I do have to share it out afterward. I take pics of documents and where my car is parked. I want to upload stuff manually.
- Gmail is changing to incorporate alerts from Google+. So they'll get you there, too, keeping you connected with Google+, even if you don't have it up. (Take that, Facebook! The G in Gmail is for "get you there, too.")
- Google+ is going after gaming, too. Google's big investment in Zynga may be about to pay off: Checkitout.
- No popularity contest with the connections numbers! One nice thing about Google+ is that you can hide the number of friends or connections you have. Which is a real relief. The old contest to see who has how many friends has been a petty and pointless part of the psychology of social networks.
- Yes, it is kind of contrived that Google suddenly cares about our lives. Remember when Google took pride in being a scientific, algorithm-based company that couldn't be blamed for anything? A line in the Google+ demo video says: "When you have lots of options in front of you, it's easy to find yourself wishing for a bit of advice." A bit of advice? Since when does Google give a bit of advice? Since Facebook.
- Overwhelmed? Good. That means you're sane. Social media users have just opened a closet, been avalanched by all kinds of junk, and then, when they think it's all them, clunked on the head by a bowling ball. The hits just keep on coming. Remember when the music industry kept changing formats? When phones wouldn't settle down? (Not that they have, much.) In other news, Facebook plans an "awesome new release" next week. (It's expected by some to be mobile in nature.) More new social platforms to try to evaluate. Oh good.