Sun 17 Jun 2012
It’s nearing a year that I signed up for Google+ and it was with much anticipation too. Time to reflect where this has taken me.
Google+ was welcomed by many as a suitable rival to social networking giant Facebook, which, this time last year, was showing all signs of a serious threat to Internet freedom of choice. So, I signed up and signed in, and connected with mostly the same friends as in FB – this time organising them in circles. Unfortunately, this is more or less where the story ends.
Apart from yet another online address book with contacts, I have not really had the feeling that G+ moved me forward in any way, neither socially, nor technologically, or otherwise. Google did try to engage me, but this confined itself to sending me notifications that people I neither knew nor cared about had for unknown reasons added me to their circles. Did they know me or care about me in ways that I did not get?
It’s probably fair to say that Google+ hasn’t boldly gone where no-one has gone before. Therefore, it had mostly the effect of duplication of postings, which is an effort, I cannot really afford. At the same time, I got the impression that all the “new” things that Google+ brought forth were replicated Facebook features, which probably shouldn’t surprise us. However, I still believe that Google+ has much more to offer in terms of integration with other Google services like search, maps, translation, docs, etc. This would make it a really strong collaboration platform, but it isn’t there yet.
I somehow regret the bad relationship they have with Facebook, leading to a virtual demarcation line that divides the one from the other when users want to be linked up. While I mothballed Google+, until later times, I also want to add that it may not be Google’s fault. It is most difficult to transport social interactions and communities from one place to another. Those of us who have been around for a few years might still recall the disastrous consequences this had on eduspaces, then (2007) perhaps the largest online educator community on the planet. Even fully featured Google+ may not be able to provide the critical kick if my social contacts are active elsewhere.
Apparently, the user base on G+ has grown to more than 100m by February 2012, and maybe the slowdown we see on Facebook is partly due to this too, where new markets now take a start-up choice. My own conclusion a year on is that jumping ship didn’t really turn out the way I imagined it then.