Monday, October 10, 2011

Confession Time: I Don't Take Google+ Seriously

Okay, I know it's all the rage to heap praise upon praise for Google's new Mom-free social media sharing space, Google+. But being the trend-bucker and sooth-sayer I am, I'm going to make a public confession here:

I don't take Google+ seriously.

I've been using "Social Media" since the days of Bulletin Board Systems, when I had a Panasonic Senior "portable" computer (that weighed 18 pounds and had a thermal printer on the ass end) and had to take my phone offline to pretend to have a drink and a chat online with a friend who lived ten minutes away. So, whenever a new social platform opens up, I'm glad to take it for a spin, click the buttons and kick the tires. And, after serious consideration, I just cannot take Google+ seriously.

Circles Aren't All That (much less a bag of chips)

Circles seem like an exciting and revolutionary idea, but if you have ever created a mailing list, it's really not. Even on Facebook, you could always just message a few friends and share something with them. It wasn't hard. Circles are useful, if you have passion around three or four separate areas and don't want them mixing. I'm not a big fan of segmenting my conversations. Segmentation isn't privacy, either.

When Circles first showed up, there was a lot of conversation about good Circle taxonomy. I thought about it at length and came up with the following Circle names:

  • People Who Think They Are My Friends
  • People Who Want Me To Listen To Them Talk
  • People Who Want To Hear Me Talk
  • People I Follow on Google+

In reality, I have only one Circle, called "Following." Because that is what I do - I follow you because I want to read what you have to say...it doesn't matter to me which of the many topics I'm interested in that you write or share info about. In fact - I'd prefer to get a nicely varied mix of different kinds of information on different things, because otherwise, it'll all start to sound the same. I like variety. If you want to follow me and put me in a bucket, fine. I post and share on multiple topics, so you're as likely to get Social Media articles mixed in with Comic/Manga news, British Archaeology and Physics.


The Main Topic Discussed on Google+ is...Google+

This morning I open my feed and no less than half of the conversation is about how good, bad, indifferent, useful, useless, growing, dying Google+ is. At least Facebook is mature enough as a platform to only have this kind of navel-staring happen with particularly obnoxious updates. This morning's headline was trumpeting Google+'s failure to retain users. I wasn't surprised because the true power of a new social platform is access to a new audience. Google+ lacks this because:


The Audience on Google+ is People You Already Know

The early adopters of Google+ were Social Media wonks, who naturally want to poke and prod any new system...and folks fleeing from Facebook because their Mom was on it. These people were likely to be in your network already, if you were on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora or any number of platforms. I know of exactly one person who found a whole new community there - and it wasn't organically grown on Google+, it migrated there from...you guessed it, Facebook.


Last, and quite possibly the biggest factor I have in not taking Google+ seriously is...

It's Google. They have long ago shown that "Don't Be Evil" has no meaning to them, and they track, trace, follow and measure our behavior. This is better than Facebook why? Google sells our information and stares back at us, unblinkingly, completely unable to see any irony.

Why am I confessing this all of a sudden? Because this morning I came to a sudden, shocking conclusion.

Here is the avatar I use for almost every single social media platform I'm on:



This painting was done by talented artist Mari Kurisato based on a photo of me. She takes commissions and her art makes great site avatars. If you're looking for an exciting, unique way to make an impression, I recommend her work highly.



And here is the avatar I have on Google+:




This is the avatar I've had on my Gmail account since I began using it. These are my two favorite anime characters.



And, that's about how seriously I take Google+.
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