Are you ready for this?  Google, of all companies, is now jumping into the on-line networking game and has launched a new feature called Google Profiles where people can create a free page that talks all about themselves, their interests, where they grew up, etc.

I’m not sure whether this will turn out to be another great Google innovation we’ll all wonder how we lived without, or whether it’s a sign of the pending apocolypse, instead, but if this thing catches on it could be BIG.  It not only will go directly up against sites like Facebook and LinkedIn that allow people to create an easy link to a bunch of information about themselves, for job hunting and other purposes, but it will also ensure that all participating professionals have their personal data captured in digital form for all eternity.  Sure, creating a profile is totally optional and there are a number of privacy settings one can deploy, but the bottom line is that almost nobody is going to be able to “hide” anymore if the world starts revolving around these types of tools and technologies.

Don’t get me wrong, however.  Google did a nice job in executing this new application and overall it’s very approachable and user-friendly.  Admittedly, I don’t quite get the point of asking people to describe their “superpower” or list “the one thing they can’t find via Google” on their profile, but I guess they’re trying to add some fun and whimsy into the site, which isn’t a terribly bad thing.

As for whether this new tool will take off?  Bet on it.  As much as Facebook and its social networking brethen have captured the imagination of millions of people around the globe, this number is dwarfed by the billions of people who use Google — and I also think the Google brand has become incredibly strong, to the point where many people will start using this new Profile site simply because it comes with the G-word attached.

So if you’re paranoid about identity theft or worried about being tracked down by somebody you jilted or borrowed money from, years ago, creating a Google Profile may not be the right move for you.  But for the rest of us, jumping on the bandwagon right away might not be a bad idea.  Not only will doing so generate a little extra “PR” for ourselves, but you’ll also get the chance to grab a customized profile address with your name in it, while one is still available!