Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google Plus

I got my invite the day they went live, but was too late in clicking it. So I got shuttered out for several days. Yesterday, my Plus went live, and I've had about 24 hours with it so far.

My initial impression is this is Google WAVE, simply renamed with a different GUI. WAVE was so far ahead of its time most people didn't understand what it was for, and they certainly didn't know how badly they wanted it. I'm pretty confident Plus will morph into the WAVE GUI (or at least provide it as an option.)

I'm also confused by it's layout and relationship to other Google stuff - do my Blogger posts automatically post in my stream? What about my Buzz? What's the difference? If someone comments on a post in the stream, does it show up in Buzz? What about all the smart, interesting random people I'm following on GReader? I don't really care about their personal lives - in fact, that gets in the way sometimes. I don't care about their photos, etc - I'm just interested in their GReader shares and comments.

Circles are confusing, too. Facebook does the same thing with lists, but the issue is the onus is on an individual user to maintain those circles. Are circles also opt in/out? Can I bridge circles on relevant topics, or do I have to xpost and then maintain multiple streams of comments, etc?

It's worth remembering that Plus, like a lot of Google products, is in beta, so it's probably a safe bet a lot of things will get worked out soon.

But I'm worried about Reader. Reader is, IMHO, the app with the most transformative potential. It has been my experience that Reader usage correlates (and may I say, predicts) with an overall ability to construct an lucid argument. Acquaintances that don't use or know of Reader are *weeks* behind news cycles, and consistently lack insight or the depth of available knowledge/opinion on most topics.

Which is precisely why it's not a very popular product. Eventually, another Reader user will creep into your shares and start schooling you. The majority of us do not react well to this, and even few actively seek out that kind of interaction. Additionally, RSS, the technology that Reader is dependent on, is facing its own hurdles as competing standards and frameworks emerge in the mobile world.

It seems Google is moving from being a knowledge-services (read: search) organization to an social/advertising org, and I hope I'm wrong about that. Google's brand was built on providing tools to make better assessments from even better data. Social networks don't do that - they're reinforcing by nature, so not very ideal for a rodeo of ideas.

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