I’ve been reasonably active on Google+ since Google Apps users were finally allowed into the party. So far, I am very impressed with the technology, particularly the way it seems to be improving on a Chrome-like pace.
But it’s not going to replace Facebook, for me or anyone else. Mainly because, as far as I can tell, there are no non-geeks on there. I have asked quite a few of my IRL friends if they use or have heard of Google+. Roughly half say they have heard of it. None of them- that’s right, zero- use it. That may change a little over time, but not in any meaningful way. There’s nothing compelling enough about Google+ to cause the non-geek herd to migrate from the familiar confines of Facebook.
We geeks can fawn over Google+ as much as we like, but until it gets traction with the non-geek crowd, it will be just a side show on the path to the big blue tent.
Google+ is replacing something, though. Sadly, not Twitter. Nothing would improve the quality of life on earth quite as much as if we could go back in time and prevent Twitter from being created. Maybe that’s how Terra Nova will end.
So, Google+ is not the new Facebook. Or the new Twitter. It’s the new blogosphere.
Fear not, this is not another Gatekeeper thing. Granted, it could be, inasmuch as most folks on Google+ seem to have their circles populated on a slope (in the circles of those down the tech/popularity/whatever slope and having circles populated by those up the slope). But no one cares about that sort of thing anymore. We’re more into shares and retweets and asking Siri if she can open the pod bay doors.
With Google+ brand pages now enabled, there is a mad rush to set up shop in this new blogosphere. There are some limitations that prevent the digital land barons from collaborative empire building, but many of those limitations will likely get worked out over time. It’s sort of like when early web developers had to grind out websites with Front Page Express and whatnot.
The hope for Google+, as the new blogosphere, is that it becomes such a good platform that it attracts the sort of content that gets it past the realm of slide rules and pocket protectors and into the realm of college buddies and teenagers. In other words, lots of big media sites operate on a blogging platform, but are much more like CNN than some nerdy online diary.
First the nerds, and then the soccer moms.
But limitations, challenges and good intentions aside, the boundaries of Google+ are being determined right now. Google+ users, much like early bloggers, are busy staking out their territory. Circles are both the new Bookmarks and the new RSS. Selective sharing and privacy settings are the fences of this digital frontier.
Mostly, it’s just chaos at the moment. Which isn’t always such a bad thing. The tale will be told when we see how (and whether) things come together into some semblance of a coherent social network. And whether Google makes the correct, but hard, choice to keep Google+ from turning into another digital Tupperware party where sellers in friends’ clothing create thinly disguised ads in the hope of selling goods and services to the theoretical consumer. Twitter is a brilliant business because it legitimizes spam and takes a cut for the house (by monetizing the page views as it is delivered and consumed). Twitter is also boring for those who aren’t drunk on the Kool-Aid, for the same reason.
I hope Google+ becomes better than Twitter and the blogosphere. Only time will tell.
It’s always interesting to watch a new platform and technology that supports it evolve. There’s a lot to like about Google+. And there are some issues- many of which seem familiar to long-time bloggers.
Meet the new blogosphere. Hopefully not the same as the old blogosphere.