Google+ is an easy target: The social platform does everything it can to make you an active member, and still we just won’t get on board. In fact, only two percent of sharing takes place on Google+, compared with 50 percent of sharing on Facebook.
That’s a pretty paltry slice of the social media pie G+ has carved out. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for poor, pathetic, friendless Google until you take a moment and realize that it’s Google and it needs your pity like it needs five bucks – which is to say it so, so does not.
But even though Google+ is still the Gretchen Weiners of social networks (needy, wheedling, with rich parents, but never chosen over Facebook’s Regina George) there is one area where Google+ really does kill it: Hangouts. They are the diamond in the rough; a solid messaging and video chat client, with plenty of features to spare.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Hangouts platform is the On Air portion of the service. Public Hangouts with the likes of Marc Antony and NASA are just the start, and if you aren’t sure how to get any use out of your obligatory Google+ membership, then these upcoming On Air Hangouts might just be your ticket to getting something out of the network you didn’t even know you were a part of.
For the fashion fiend: HSN Hangout On Air: Betsey Johnson, July 22nd at 12 PST
Betsey Johnson isn’t only a fashion legend, she’s also a technicolor maniac with a personality that matches her all-bright-everything style sense. Home Shopping Network is throwing this Hangout and chatting with Johnson about fashion, and if you’re a fan of the designer, it should be a thoroughly entertaining experience.
For stargazers, storm chasers, and space fans: NASA Google+ Hangouts, July 23, 2 PM EDT and 3:30 PM EDT
NASA is giving curious fans two separate Hangouts this week. The first, “Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel,” will give you a peek at several NASA centers getting ready to launch unmanned aircrafts into hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. You can submit questions in advance on Google+ or Twitter with the hashtag #askNASAHS3, and during the Hangout you can still ask question using the hashtag #askNASA. If you’re wondering how similar NASA’s program is to the way Helen Hunt released those little storm monitors in “Twister” now is your chance to shine.
And the second Hangout, “Celebrating Sally: A Hangout On Air,” is devoted to talking about pioneering astronaut Sally Ride and the impact she had on women in STEM jobs. It’s a great way to show a tween girl you know how badass female scientists are, and panelists include Lori Graver, the Deputy Administer of NASA, and NSA astrophysicist Amber Straughn.
NASA’s Hangouts have been excellent in the past, and although this set isn’t as compelling as astronauts answering questions from space, they’re still worth tuning in.
For literary lovers: Random House presents a Hangout On Air with Ian McKewan, July 23 at 7 PM PST
Ian McKewan is a very rare man: he’s a working writer and living legend. It’s probably easier to name the literary prizes he hasn’t won, and books like “Atonement” and “Saturday” are (rightly) considered masterpieces. But even brilliant writers can be super boring, so you may be wondering why you should check out this particular Hangout. You should check it out because McKewan isn’t exactly a timid man; he’s a very outspoken critic of Islamism, he’s been mired in plagiarism controversy, and he accepted the Jerusalem Prize while maintaining opposition to Israeli policies. Basically, he has strong opinions, which means he’ll be an interesting interview.
For J.Lo acolytes and people who like to troll: Marc Anthony Google+ Hangout On Air, July 23 at 1 PM PST
Marc Anthony is doing this Hangout to answer questions about his new album, but how about we all ask him if J.Lo found a way to suck out his youth instead?
For science fanatics: Mind Blown: Hangout to Explore How Your Brain Works, July 23 at 10 PST
If you feel bad about trolling Marc Anthony and want to do something more wholesome, check out this educational Hangout, hosted by Jason Silva, the host of National Geographic Channel’s “Brain Games.” National Geographic tends to put on some amazing Hangouts — they had Jane Goodall appear in one earlier this year — and this Hangout should give your brain a workout. Silva’s high-energy and a self-described techno-philosopher, so at the very least you will be entertained.
And all of this is just in the upcoming week – Google doesn’t release a longer schedule for its Hangouts, but National Geographic Communications Manager Kelsey Flora says they plan one Hangout a month. So keep checking the calendar Google provides to stay in the loop.