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The Top 20 Tech Stories of 2011

Google Gets Social (Again)

Back in 2004, a Google employee named Orkut Buyukkokten developed a social network as a special project. Google named the network after the developer, and orkut got the jump on Myspace and Facebook. But despite the head start, orkut failed to gain traction outside of a few countries.

In 2011, Google gave social networking another shot. The result was Google Plus, a social network that lets you organize people into circles. You can post to specific circles, excluding anyone you like. Or you can post to the general public, and anyone following you will be able to see what you write.

Other features included video chat sessions with up to nine other Google Plus users, unlimited storage space for photos uploaded through Google Plus and games similar to the ones you can find on other social networking sites like Facebook.

Google Plus experienced a surge of interest when it opened up to the public. But growth may have since stalled. And 2011 was a rough year for Google projects -- new CEO Larry Page ended several of them including Buzz, Desktop and Notebook, saying that they weren't performing well enough to support. Could Google Plus be far behind?