By now you may have heard about Google's latest foray into the social sphere -- the Google+ network, rolled out for a selected few last week.
But unlike most Google products, this isn't just a tech demo showing off something an engineer thought up in the lab. The scope of this move highlights a paradigm shift within Google, and that shift is poised to change the very nature of the Internet.
The reason is that Google is positioning itself to be part of your life, instead of your life becoming part of Google.
The Internet truly is something new, not just an old concept in a new form. It's so innovative and important that its become a hallmark of this era. The Internet is part of your life.
But looks closer and you'll see that Google is now also part of your life.
In May of this year, more than 1 billion people visited Google properties, more than any other company at any point in time. Google serves as the gateway to the rest of the Internet. It's the front entrance to the playground.
On the other hand, social networking sites represent something that already existed -- that is, your group of friends and acquaintances. So things like Facebook and Myspace are just another destination on the Internet, offering another service.
But in a very real way, Google is the Internet, and the genius behind Google+ is that it will unchain the social concept from stand-alone Web sites and graft it as part of the Internet as a whole -- everywhere you go.
Beyond just picture sharing and status updates, Google+ allows you to take the whole Internet into your social world, and that's powerful.
In Google's new world, sharing with your friends won't just be confined to certain sites and services, it will become part of everything that you do, and it will change the face of the Internet as we know it.