Its been over 3 months since my last post so what brings me back to writing? Of course, the one topic everybody is talking about, Google+.
Full disclosure, Im very curious to see how much traffic I can get from Google+ vs Twitter or Facebook, and I really needed a fresh post for that but as Ive been playing with the new service since day one, I have a few thoughts to share.
I WANT TO SEE GOOGLE TAKE A BITE OUT OF FACEBOOK.
Yes, I have a big Google+ bias. I hate monopolies, think competition is good for users, and always take the side of a challenger after all, I did not pick the Pepsi side of the cola war by accident.
But Im afraid it wont happen. At least not unless Google address some major flaws.
LET ME START WITH THE GOOD STUFF.
Circles. Already talked to death as the most innovative feature.
You can post different things to different people, rather than indiscriminately publish family photos and business blog posts to all friends, colleagues, and to your mom. Genius, and very well executed.
Also worth pointing out, the shape of the network itself.
Contrary to Facebook, Google+ lets you add people without the need for them to add you back. That makes it more public than Facebook, and contrary to GUI appearances, closer to Twitter. It also translates into a much looser definition of friends. G+ lets you add new followers to circles which you can read from and write to or just ignore. The secret is that when you add someone, they dont know which circle theyve been added to
And theres a lot of very innovative smaller features:
- 10 people video-chat hangouts
- social YouTube videos viewing
- the + button Googles version of the like
- always on integration in the Google home page
- and what we cant see yet, but for sure is coming Google apps integration such as shared calendars, shared Google docs etc
Thats the good. Lets go to the bad and the ugly.
FLAW 1. SURPRISINGLY CLUNKY.
Yes. Google+ has a great GUI.
But spend a few days trying to manage your circles and You. Will. Go. Crazy.
Its easy enough to add a few folks, but it just doesnt work with hundreds. Too hard to manage who goes where Too much work to click on full profiles just to find out who people are And the best circle management features only work in some areas of the site.
Also on the clunky side, notifications. Really Google, there really was no way to give it a little bit of hierarchy?
Maybe like: (1) people adding me, (2) comments, +s and shares on my posts, (3) mentions of me in other peoples posts, (4) every other stuff Im likely not to care about like the endless stream of further comments made to every post I comment on. Yes, sometimes I want to follow the conversation. Mostly though, I dont, so please let me choose.
Fairness to Google, these are not fatal flaws. G+ is still in beta, and the Google team have been remarkably quick to adjust based on user feedback. Theyll sort it out.
FLAW 2. ITS WHERE PEOPLE COME TO TALK ABOUT GOOGLE+
Take a look at the feed from my Friends circle.
Now check out Family.
The reason theyre both empty is that none of my friends or family members have joined the service.
And heres the trick I invited them, they did not come.
They just dont care. Facebook already solved their networking problem. No one loves Facebook, but everybody loves family and friends, and they are all on Facebook. Google+ is arguably a better system but better is not enough. Google+ has to be better by leaps and bounds to convince you to go through the hassle of uprooting existing content and connections.
So who do you see using the service today?
People like me: twitter-addicts who over-use social media out of professional necessity or personal interest, and are happy to maintain a presence on every corner of the social web. Not a good sign as Google cant thrive on just the super-users and social media elite.
FLAW 3. WHY SO COMPLICATED?
Take a look at this chart.
No, really: take a look.
Its not even a joke its really how things work. Bit complicated maybe?
Too many rocket-scientists working at Google
FLAW 4. CIRCLES GETS IT BACKWARDS.
Circles are great. But its a broadcasters view of the world. It says you are in control of what content you share and who you want to share it with. OK, but the control most people want is over what content they receive and consume.
I dont want to see the Foursquare check-ins that my friends choose to share with me.
I dont want to read every stupid funny cartoons a blogger decides to publish as public between his great posts.
I simply dont want to get every post from every person I add to my circles I just dont trust them to know what Ill be interested in more than me.
And of course when brands come on board, I will want to choose to receive the promos, or the ads, or the content.
FLAW 5. ITS A MASSIVE FIRE-HOSE!
Finally, updates and posts just never stop, and filtering by circle is not enough.
My Twitterville feed is a small sign of things to come only 70 handpicked people, and its already an unbearable stream of clutter. No offense guys: I think the same of my main Twitter feed, but at least tweets are shorter, so I can skim through faster.
Theres a reason 140 works – I dont want a Twitter-feed with longer posts.
I already hated this idea when deck.ly introduced it, Im not going to start loving it now.