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10 techies to follow to immediately make Google+ more useful

Google+ now has a suggested user list, including tech picks. Unfortunately, it's not very good. Here's who to follow instead.

This week Google+ unveiled its recommended user list of "interesting and famous people" on its social network. The list includes a subcategory for technology, but I agree with JR Raphael that Google's list is not very compelling. It's mostly just a list of famous people in the tech subculture who happen to have Google+ accounts. In other words, it's not based on the quality of what they post.

Since, in the past, I've created several lists of tech experts to follow on Twitter in order to help make Twitter more useful for technologists, I figured this is the perfect opportunity for me to step up and provide a list of techies who post quality stuff on Google+.

However, before I give you my list, I'd like to pause for a quick reminder. Those of us who write about technology for a living are constantly in danger of losing perspective and getting trapped in a bubble of the latest buzz about the newest tech products. We tend to forget that most normal people -- even most IT pros -- aren't using the new stuff that came out last month. A lot of them are lucky to be using the new stuff from last year.

I was recently talking to a local technologist and friend, Keith Stevenson, about Google+ and he told me that I was one of the few tech writers he followed on Google+ and that was mostly because he knows me in the real world. He said he doesn't follow Robert Scoble or Mike Elgan or other big tech writers because they post too much and overwhelm his feed. While I follow both Scoble and Elgan, I think that's a valid point that techies don't just deserve to be on a list like this just because they post a ton of stuff. That's the other end of the spectrum from Google's recommended user list, where several people are on there just because they have an account even though they don't post much (or at least not much about tech).

The bottom line is that my list is not a "Who's Who" of tech thought leaders on Google+, but rather a list of "Who's Useful." I also tried to pick a real cross-section of different types of people from different geographies, and some non-media types. Here's my top 10, and a few honorable mentions.

My list

1. Harry McCracken - Two years ago, I put Harry at the top of my list of techies to follow on Twitter, and for the same simple reasons -- he posts interesting stuff and is discriminating about what he posts -- I'd put him at the top of this list of Google+ techies. 2. Jillian C. York - She's the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and she posts excellent links on global issues in media, freedom of speech, and international human rights in the digital age. 3. Alexander Howard - If you want to keep tabs on what's happening in the public sector as it relates to the digital age then Alex is your guy. As he says, he focuses on "the intersection of government, citizens and the Internet." 4. Vic Gundotra - Vic is the Google executive in charge of Google+ and the great thing is that he's very active on the service, and even uses it to announce new and upcoming features and occasionally provide a peek behind the scenes. It's a positive 21st century trend to see a leader so visible and accessible. 5. Patrick Beja - To include international flavor in your Google+ stream, I'd highly recommend Beja, a French podcaster. He posts a lot of interesting stuff (especially videos) on geek culture topics. Don't be turned off by the fact that some of his posts are in French (if you've ever taken French, it will quickly help you recall some of those old high school or college studies). 6. Julio Ojeda-Zapata - This Midwesterner and tech veteran posts lots of good stuff, especially about tech in the real world and in business. 7. Baratunde Thurston - If you want to make your Google+ stream a lot more fun, then the Onion's Baratunde Thurston is a great place to start. He has an irreverent, liberal take on current events (which is good-natured even if you don't like the political bent) but also provides good insights on tech and new media. And, he's just legitimately funny. 8. Dwight Silverman - Dwight is an old school journalist with the new media savvy of a Millennial. He's been writing books and newspaper columns about tech for decades, which gives him great perspective and skepticism, but he also gets Twitter and Google+ and knows how to use them to share appropriate stuff, ask good questions, and engage with the audience. 9. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols - For a dose of hard core IT, SJVN (as he's affectionately known on the Internet) provides a lot of great links and insights on business tech as well as the open source movement. But, Vaughan-Nichols, who has previously worked for NASA and the US Department of Defense, also has a nose for interesting geek culture topics, too. 10. Patrick Smith - While Trey Ratcliff has become the celebrity photographer on Google+, I'd actually recommend checking out Smith, first and foremost. His landscape photography is sensational, plus Smith is highly technical and regularly goes to great length to explain how he got his best shots.

Honorable mentions

You can find me on Google+ as +Jason Hiner.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

17 comments
rodolfoop
rodolfoop

I recognize the technological effort front and server developers and architects for the launch of g+. However, google should stay away from other businesses since they get enough from advertising and search. Only the shareholders are gaining from this. All other competition is threatened since they are a kind of monopoly.

mark16_15
mark16_15

When I started with G+ I was following Leo Laporte and Chris Pirillo. Now these guys have a lot of interesting stuff to say, but after a while (1 or 3 days) I began to get tired of having to scroll down through their myriad posts to see what others were saying. An important part of being followworthy is knowing what not to post.

SadButTrue2
SadButTrue2

Am I the only immature middle aged man who giggled when they read his name?

MaxStirner
MaxStirner

Good list. Am just getting up to speed and many of the suggestions made for a nice starting point.

TG2
TG2

1) directly from GGL+ signup page .... "Changing your Google profile name may change it in other products." 2) While your profile is public, your full name is the only required information that will be displayed on your profile #2 ... its fine Jason Hiner, you, like Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Darius Rucker, you want your names out there.. you want people to follow your names from thing to thing to thing and want the fame and all of it ... I want my Pseudonym and I should not be made to feel like a criminal for *NOT* wanting my real name plastered everywhere I go or by forcing me to create a FAKE profile name ... People will learn this.. GGL is everywhere, its like sand, and gets into everything ... and at some point the rest of the people will join me/us ... those of "us" that don't like google knowing we got up today at 9:05am cause that's when we first searched local coffee house ...and people don't like getting one customization for one small square patch but "not that area" (black bar at the top of google's standard search page) ... and people don't like having their naked picture standing outside washing themselves posted on the web, not for 10 hours not for 10 seconds... GGL is killing our privacy more and more every day for another "real human" click thru. Do no evil .... where did you go so wrong. (yes, Darius Rucker - as everyone else thinks he's "Hootie")

pivert
pivert

Don't you see that's just the point? Make lots of noise about a product but keep it limited to a small group of people. Why would you want to get in a VIP-room if it was open to everybody... Think about it... Like so many products, it's a big step for marketing but a small step on the web. Next month, a new buzz like tiles instead of icons... That's mindblowing...

TheNerdyNurse
TheNerdyNurse

Again... I'm not on your list of awesomeness?!? That just won't do! :)

kip69
kip69

I like the main list and have added a few of them (an you Jason) to my feed. But the Honourable mentions list could do with a thumbnails worth of information. A quick hint about them. I don't want to kick all of them randomly.

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

Google+ is NOT available. And Google refuses ALL subscriptions to this service. I had even applied for it (when it was officially open to testers), and Google has never included me in this test. Please stop advertizing it as long as the service is not available !!! This is just a very small community of a few users selected by Google, with unknown criteria. There's not even any warranty that the service will open one day, it may stop completely even before its final release. Stop discussing about something that is OFFICIALLY not supported, including ALL of its features.Google may finally decide to create a completely different service that will require eveyone to resubscribe to it with the new rules (including the few developers trying to connect their service, but cannot effectively make any assumption about if this investment will be worth the value or won't simply be lost completely).

pyciorj
pyciorj

Right now Google is not allowing any new user. When they do the rest of the world will join.

_rob_d
_rob_d

More geeks/IT People to follow on G+. When will people-next-door come join us into this?

nbsc
nbsc

Why is the Google+ suggested user list not appearing in this article?There is a place holder, but no list is visable. Is it my browser or is site related? Thanks; jmk-nbsc

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

I won't be using Google+ until they change their anti-user, anti-social name policy. But thanks, anyway.

j814wong
j814wong

I signed up for a beta, and I got one. But now, the Beta is more limited and possibly closed because they have enough testers. They probably have a limit for the beta that they've reached.

netgenner
netgenner

I find articles touting the pros and cons, and features of Google+ extremely annoying and pointless, given that I can't join, and neither can anyone else in our IT company.

JCitizen
JCitizen

latest version. I can see the list, but it looks like there is a non-functioning slider next to the image. I only use 32 bit browsers so far.

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