Of Google-Plus And Circle Jerks

I remember Myspace.

We speak of it now like it died in a war, but it’s actually still out there if you care to gaze upon it. It was and remains the social media equivalent of a GeoCities website: everything is blink tags and glitter fonts, tropical vomit and chrome skulls. Like Metallica rode in on a pack of My Little Ponies and got thrown into a wood chipper, and the chipper sprayed the guts up onto our screens.

Then? Facebook came around. Facebook was all clean lines and blue cubicles. Though it came from the realm of the collegiate, it appeared as the buttoned-up office worker of the social media work, tsk-tsk-tsking on all the blown-out margins and half-naked goblins of Myspace.

And for a while, Facebook held it all together. But before long, chaos crept in at the edges. Eroded those clean blue margins. Pissed on the cubicle walls. Next thing you knew, it was all HELP ME KILL THIS FILIPINO BOOKIE IN MAFIA WARS and DALE NEEDS HELP INSEMINATING DONKEYS IN FARMVILLE and people were tagging you with photos you weren’t even in (“Is that a cat throwing up on a parakeet?”) and people could add you to groups you didn’t sign up for (“Why am I suddenly getting email from “The Sparkly Bieberwhores?”). It never fell into the Las Vegas ayahuasca dream-vomit of Myspace, but the madness remained, endemic to a once-clean system.

And now, Google+ (or Google-Plus or G+ or GP or GooPloo or Guh-Pluh or whatever it is we’ll eventually call it) is here, once more stepping into the arena as the master of order, as the scion of sanity, clean and white and elegant as an Apple store.

I am here to say: Lo, I am underwhelmed.

And more than a little confused.

Both fairly default states for me, to tell the truth, so this isn’t all that new. Even still, my experiences with The Googlecrucians has been surprisingly gutless and without mirth. I figure, hell, let’s talk about it.

Though, quick caveats: first, this is not a review. I’ve seriously hardly used this thing. Don’t trust me to tell you what to think about it — go splash around in the Googley Waters thine ownself.

Second, if you like it? Then I am happy for you. I may like it too one day. Soon, even. In fact, if you would be so kind as to drop into the comments and say why you like it and how you use it, I would reward you mightily. And by “reward you,” I mean, I’ll give you a wink and a thumbs-up and a high-five and that shall be your glorious prize. Get excited.

It’s Like Facebook, Only Less So!

When “new” social media hits, to me it should feel like something new. Not merely an improvement but rather, a whole muhfuckin’ redesign. Facebook wasn’t like Myspace. It had that sense that I was dipping my toes in the lifestreams of others rather than actively hopping over to your “page” where you, I dunno, talked about how much you love the goddamn Thundercats or auto-play music that sets fire to my ears. Then Twitter came out of left-field and it dialed down complexity and dialed up that frequency to the point where it became this constant signal of conversation ever burbling in the background, and all you had to do was tune the knob to make it louder, or clearer, or more meaningful.

Twitter encouraged brevity. It embraced simplicity.

Now, Google-Double-Plus-Good has hit and it’s less a redesign and more a re-skin. In the MMO-gaming space you’d say, “it’s not a World-of-Warcraft killer so much as it is a clone.” The feeling I get from people is that “It’s like Facebook, but without all that… Facebook all up in your face!” Which is fine. Certainly Facebook has earned the ire of many for its constant application messages and its privacy settings. And Gee+ has thrown in one of the great things from Twitter: the loss of enforced reciprocality. I follow you. You don’t need to follow me. Huzzah. It’s a nice touch.

Even still, this horse is still a horse. When Twitter came around, the Internet didn’t show me a horse. It showed me a chimera shooting lasers from its eyes and pooping Faberge eggs. It was like, “Whoa, I have never seen this before.” When I logged onto Googolplex, I just saw another horse. Painted white, admittedly, and maybe given a nice currying, but still a horse.

This isn’t a home run. It’s a bunt. That can’t be enough, can it? To get millions to switch?

As Intuitive As Putting Together Ikea Furniture

Goddamn Allen wrenches.

To Hell with your Sknarng coffee table or your Fnorbsbjar S&M spinfuck chair, Ikea.

Anyway. What was I saying? Right.

The first thing that happens when I get into Googley-Poo is that it tells me that people have added me to circles even though I’d never before been on the service (leading me to believe that the site is a psychic social media version of SkyNet), and yet when I look at my list of who had me in circles, some of those people weren’t there. Further, I’m then asked to delineate people into circles of my own. Friends or acquaintances, which seems arbitrary, cruel, and actually not all that meaningful. (It’s not until later that I realize I can do whatever the fuck I want with circles, but initially, that’s not all that clear.) Why not just force me to pick enemies? My initial plan was to separate people into Byzantine Masonic Circles (“You have taken the trials and can join the 35th Echelon Of The Grandmaster Of Fez-Wearing Hula-Hoopery“) but I eventually discover that nobody can actually see the awesome circle names you’ve used to classify them.

Then I’m supposed to figure out exactly how circles work in terms of both broadcasting signal and receiving it from others. I grok the reception: I can say, “I only want to see posts from people in my Those Marked For Eradication By Doom-Bots circle.” But the broadcasting portion is a little weirder. A circle indicates a group — like, if I create a circle and we’re all in it, we should all be, I dunno, talking to one another. A circle of jerks, if you will. (And I do wonder how long it’ll be before “Circle Jerk” enters the G+ parlance.) But that’s not quite the case. This dude’s blog post takes a look at How Circles Work, but what I read in his blog is not necessarily how I understood it upon entering the circle. Even still, I’m not sure who I’m even talking to. Or yelling at. Or who can talk to me.

Or where my pants went.

Speaking Of Pantslessness

No, I do not want to hangout with you on a webcam. Or, more specifically, you don’t want to hang out with me on webcam. Listen, in the great Venn diagram of my computing life, the circle of “Am Using The Internet” and the circle of “Am Shirtless And Covered In Baby Puke And Dorito Pollen” have a near perfect overlap. I’m also afraid that if I somehow turn on my webcam, the first thing I’m going to see is someone masturbating at me. Which is why I am prepared instead to masturbate at somebody. Fight fire with fire. Fight Onanism with Onanism. I have a very clear “first strike” policy on webcam jerkoffery. Once again, the need for “Circle Jerk” to enter the Goo-Plus parlance is dire. Dire.

What The Who Now Is A Spark?

Then there’s something called a spark? Which is really just an chosen topic that accumulates random links about my chosen topic? This feels a little “stapled on.” Like, does this relate at all to my friends? Er? Circles? Er, what’s the term? Circlemates? Google-Pals? Plus-Buddies? (Again: Circle Jerks. I’m just saying. Let us all adopt this new lingo.) Who filters Sparks? Isn’t the power of social media the ability to have word-of-mouth fuel your filtering abilities? Has Google hired a guy just to figure out what Sparks I should like? What’s happening? What are all these flashing lights? Why am I being anally probed?

The Department Of Redundancy Department

I already have Twitter and Facebook. The former, I’m very happy with. The latter, I could mostly give a shit about but I’ve got tons of family and classmates there. So, I do an update to Twitter and/or Facebook, I now have, what, a third social media axis to choose from? And I’m going to do what? Say the same thing there that I said everywhere else? That’s fine, I guess, but the thought of having to track posts and replies across three axes (not to mention the blog or Goodreads or Tumblr or other blogs or reality) just makes me want to take a goddamn nap.

Even worse, Googly-Eyes over there wants me to get all handsy with organizing my social existence. You know what sounds excruciating? Organizing my social existence. Putting everybody in little boxes. Arranging people like pewter figurines in their little drawers and cubby-holes. Are you a friend? Or a worker? What if you’re a worker-friend? What if you’re part of my Beekeeping Club but you might also inadvertently find interest in my posts about Coffee Beans Run Through The Intestinal Tract Of Sugar Gliders? I already have enough busy-work in my life — balancing checkbooks, washing dishes, obsessively going over my “locks of hair stolen from all the red-headed hookers I’ve murdered.” Do I really want to micro-manage my online cohorts? Is micro-managing stuff ever fun (except for obsessives)?

As a writer, is this just another place for writer wankery? Don’t I do that enough? (Answer: duh, yes.)

I’m reaching a state of social media ennui. Tedium with such pablum.

The whole thing feels a little bit redundant.

A Mote Of Promise In SkyNet’s Eye

That’s not to say you won’t enjoy Fraggle Rock Google Plus. You very well might. As a Facebook replacement, it’s aces, I suppose. (Though I’m a bit puzzled by those who are apeshit gonzo about OMG GEE PLUS IS A BILLION TIMES BETTER THAN FACEBOOK, which to me is like saying, OMG FRUITY PEBBLES IS A BILLION TIMES BETTER THAN FROOT LOOPS.) Further, when the digital winds blow right I occasionally catch the briny scent of sheer potential in the service, a potential that maybe harkens back to what Google wanted with services like Buzz and Wave.

For now, I can’t see myself hanging out too much at the Gee-Willikers Gee-Whiz Gee-Plus Zero-G G-Unit G-Love G Money — I occasionally pull back the tent flap and see if anything good is going on, but so far, it’s mostly just a bunch of carnies sitting around smoking cigarettes and looking a little bored. That said, if you can find me on there, feel free. Entrap me in one of your jerking circles.

Otherwise I shall remain firmly ensconced in the Twitters, where I am allowed to stand on a soapbox, yell all kinds of crap into the air, and you can decide if it’s worth hearing.

As always: YMMV, IMHO, etc.

In other news: get off my lawn, you damn kids. With your Google+. And your hair. And your clothes.

121 responses to “Of Google-Plus And Circle Jerks”

  1. Haven’t seen it yet but “organizing my social existence” seems a little too close to one of the circles of Hell for comfort… ah ha! Maybe Google really IS the devil!

  2. Agreed. So far, Goggle+ seems to be another way to every social media doucher I know to show off their tech savvy to a very, very small group of uninterested parties. Dislike.

    Also, “+1” feels like it’s trying too hard.

    • @Hanna:

      I don’t think that somebody who uses Google+ is a douche. I also don’t think using the site requires a great deal of tech savvy, what with it basically being a different version of Facebook.

      My comments in this post are a discussion about G+, not the people who choose it or enjoy it.

      Please don’t attack people for their preferences simply because you don’t share them. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, but that’s how it comes across.

      — c.

  3. I’m on Plus and loving it. I happen to like being able to organize my ‘writing’ friends from my ‘RL hang out because we’re at the same place a lot’ friends. It’s useful for me, and let’s me focus my discussions a bit more (Something I’ve never been comfortable doing on Facebook.)

    As for how I use it? Break down my formal groups into circles, keep a dozen or so Sparks on things related to my blogging and other interests, and scan a couple times a day. Seems to work.

    • @Patrick:

      How are you finding the Sparks? I tried following the “Recipes” Spark and it just… is a list of recipe links. Which is fine and all, but it’s pretty much an unfocused, unfiltered blob.

      — c.

  4. Still haven’t got an invite. There should be an antisocial network for people like me.

    I’m willing to try Google+ based on little more than it not being Facebook, and not being on Facebook is beginning to occasionally cramp communication. Yeah, that’ll work. Fuck it, I’ll just choose some new friends and family.

  5. What I’m liking so far – the lack of ads and game requests.
    What I’m not liking – maybe I’m getting old, but it seems to be very yoof-oriented with its Sparks and +1’s

    Purely from a promotional POV, I’d like to be able to create pages like Facebook allows.

    I… still haven’t used it enough to decide whether it’s useful. But it’s a damn sight easier to figure out than LinkedIn (which I’ve had a year and still fail to see the point of)

  6. I tried G+ last week… used it for a couple of days and then decide to cancel it.

    I love Twitter… its immediacy and succinctness (is that a word?), but I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. Facebook feels as if someone has vomited in my mind hole. At least with Twitter I feel as if I’m the one in control. Barely, anyway. There’s the obvious Twitter addiction but hey, I can quit any time I want, right?

    G+ is certainly a clean experience. And Circles is quite cool, although they’re really just another form of Lists (which I don’t use).

    Spark? OK, sure… but *shrug*.

    Not keen on people seeing the ugly that is me… so the video thing is surplus to requirements. I know, I could just use audio… but I use Skype for that already.

    Google + isn’t horrible, by any stretch of the imagination and I suppose I could quite easily fall into using it and from there think I couldn’t do without it… but frankly this all comes along at a time when I’m giving some serious thought on how not to be staring at my PC or smart phone for longer than I absolutely have to.

    And why does social media always turn into a race for follower numbers? Can’t stand it.

    Twitter killer? Facebook killer? I have absolutely no idea. And nor does anyone else.

    Just my opinion, obviously. I’m happy for those that use it and like it.

    • @Darren:

      Circles have I guess a little bit more utility than lists, right, in that it also sorta maybe controls to whom you’re broadcasting? But even still, it has (to me) the burden that lists have: it means instead of checking one feed/stream, I’m now checking one for writers, one for friends, one for acquaintances, one for donkey inseminators, etc.etc. — Google+ thus requires more of my time to be useful. And the last thing I and presumably other writers need is a greater social media time-sink. Now — if someone is using only G+ or uses it efficiently, then that’s not a problem. I am not a master of such efficiency.

      — c.

  7. I’m using it and so far it is pretty good. I didn’t really want to add another social media thing to the list, so I totally get that aversion, but I do want to keep up with what the peoples are up to and things. Also I like seeing what’s up with new tech. I don’t know if Google+ will end up staying around but it’s making a pretty good show so far. It’s cleaner than fb, without the ads and games, though it may not stay that way. It has some interesting small differences. For example, I like that you can edit posts because leaving spelling errors/inaccuracies can be annoying if you spot them later. There’s a lot of integration but that’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It makes things easier but I like a bit of segregation, so it’s a bit annoying to have it want to link everything up. The circlejerk thing has crossed my mind, but there are slightly different ways of doing this same filtering in fb, twitter and lj, so it’s not particularly new. So yes, it’s not cutting edge new, but it’s a potential competitor / alternative option to facebook, or just another social media to add to the list. Overall I think it’s clean and shiny, there’s not much going on yet, it has potential, but it still has kinks to work out. It’s still in Beta so this is to be expected.

  8. I’m still on the fence about Google+. I’ve been using it for a week or so and like it, but it is not intuitive and still kinda glitchy.

    I like that I can sort people into little circles. I have a group of people that I know from a knitting website who they have their own circle. It is cool that I can direct a post right at them but not bore the rest of my friends/family with pictures of yarn or something.

    It remains to be seen if Google+ will be changing security settings on a weekly basis like Facebook. I need to keep my FB locked down, and staying abreast of all of the new sharing options Facebook defaults to (and then figuring out how to change them back to not sharing) is exhausting. I think part of the point of Google+ is that it is supposed to be easier to manage your security settings, and you can manage settings differently for each category of people. I hear you can do that on FB now, but I don’t trust it to remember what I told it to do, so I default to lockdown.

    The Sparks are useless. I added knitting, and it seems to be a random collection of knitting articles that aren’t remotely interesting. Except for that one comparing knitters to sister wives and also suggesting that we are not as cool as the cast of Jersey Shore. That one was just irksome.

    • If anybody else needs invites, I have them. I mean, until I don’t? I don’t know if they even matter — some folks can get in without them, some can’t. Puzzling, that.

      — c.

  9. It’s hard to judge Google+ with so little people there at the moment…but I think where it has real potential is how it integrates with the rest of Google and the “web experience.” I’m curious to see how that develops.

    • Thanks, @Deni.

      Will that be the phrasing, you think? “Plus-One’d” something? Has a ring to it, I guess.

      If Google+ gets its own set of terminology into the parlance, that’s part of its battle right there.

      — c.

  10. Deni’s “I plus oned your post” ( I plussed on your post?) made me curious about your share button, so I clicked to see the whole menu of turribleminds share options. Dear God. There can’t really be that many different services set up for sharing and posting, can there?

  11. Spot on. I don’t need another social media site. As a writer, I agree that I don’t need another place to spend all my energy instead of writing. Thanks for putting all this in a post that made me laugh out loud.

  12. I’m using it and really enjoying it. I deleted my Facebook a long time ago, and this has been nice for me, in that I can finally talk to people who only use this type of social networking to communicate (FWIW, I really enjoy twitter, but these people don’t use it). Basically I’m enjoying it because all of the people that I wanted to escape from on FB aren’t there yet, and once they are, blocking them is as simple as dragging them in to a circle (THAT one I am definitely going to have to rename Circle Jerks).

    Everything simply seems more intuitive, which is probably not going to be universal. Still, I’m enjoying it a lot.

  13. Sometime ago, when Facebook changed its privacy policy/technology again, a bunch of people got in a huff, did a Kickstarter project, and came up with Diaspora (https://joindiaspora.com/). I was really hoping they would get out of alpha before another “new” social networking came out, simply because I like a lot of the philosophy behind it. It had circles (called aspects) and a fairly reasonable privacy built in. Right now, its rather in flux, which I wish it wasn’t because I don’t think it will be a new painted horse.

  14. For me, there’s a niche that Google+ could fill that isn’t adequately filled by the likes of LinkedIn and Facebook (because I only barely tolerate the both of them), but there’s a huge problem with Google+. It’s invite only. What was a leading cause of the failure of Google Wave? An invite only beta. You can’t work social media through an invite-only structure. Why was Gmail so freaking successful? You didn’t have to have all of your friends in it, too.

    As for the privacy thing? Feh, I say. Google already knows an uncomfortable amount of information about me, especially since starting to use all the Google goodies bundled in with Android. What’s a little more?

  15. […] to add to my coffee (soda…whatever) I took a gander at the blog-to-the-osphere.  I read yet another Google+ article, a good one at that, but one that left me feeling like I needed to explain how to use a wireless […]

  16. As someone who is overwhelmed by the ridiculous apps on Facebook, I like that g+ doesn’t have them. It seems like a curated facebook, like… Apple’s first version of a Facebook implementation. It’s missing some of the good and obvious things (let me flag circles as “exclude from my stream,” let me integrate my google reader and google buzz shit), but it’s also missing the enforced bullshit I don’t care about, like “Chuck answered a question about you!” and “Chuck needs help bloating his maggot farm!” Also I hate Zuck, and I couldn’t even watch Social Network past the first scene for wanting to punch him.

    We’ll see if it goes anywhere… So far, Twitter’s the only social media thing that’s actually held on to my attention. I “use” Facebook insofar as I go there to answer messages and contact friends who only use Facebook, which is essentially how I used MySpace.

    I guess that’s the thing, for me… I don’t need another social media site. I need the first long form one I’ll actually use. I don’t know that g+ is it, but Facebook definitely isn’t.

    • Here’s the thing — if G+ ended up being *the* dominant social network, awesome. Some things it does better then Facebook, some things Facebook does better (at present). I guess it’s just — this is what they came up with? A cleaner Facebook is all they strived for? Twitter changed the way I thought about social media. G+ merely confirms old ways of thinking about social media. It may be cleaner. Might even be better. But I don’t know that this is enough, at least not yet.

      For instance, how would I ever convince my family to leave Facebook and come to G+? At present, nothing there seems to have that kind of power.

      Then again, maybe it doesn’t need to do that. Maybe it’ll work as having a rather robust niche. Twitter certainly operates that way.

      — c.

  17. It’s a curiosity, to me. I like some of its functionality, but I can’t help but wonder how long it’ll be before the likes of Mafia Wars and Dungeon Overlord creep into it.

    Any predictions on when it’ll lose its luster and become as GeoCities’d as MySpace?

  18. Maybe the circles seem more intuitive if you’ve been using Livejournal all this time. LJ allows you to create different lists of people, and you can make your post viewable only to certain lists as opposed to the whole world. I mean, for example, sometimes you want to be able to rant about work without co-workers, bosses, or potential employers seeing it. Other times, you want to network your ass off. Google+ can do both of those things for you. There’s no need to have a Facebook for your social life AND a LinkedIn for your work life – you’ve got both in the same convenient package.

    Family vs. friends is another conflict that Facebook never resolved adequately. I’m one of those kids who was on Facebook back when it was college-only, and I remember when it opened up to the general public. There were a lot of screams and fainting spells over the idea of having to friend one’s own mother, because pictures and wall comments were open to everyone. Did your mother really need to read about your latest crush, or see pictures of you playing beer pong? No. But could you actually refuse a friend request from your mother?

    This is why I almost never use Facebook except to organize events or get in touch with people whose phone numbers and email addresses I don’t know. I don’t always want to share ever aspect of my life with every person I know. I think there is a way to separate out the equivalent of “circles” on Facebook, but Google+ is a lot more intuitive, believe it or not.

    Plus, I can read my notifications and even respond to people’s comments in a convenient pop-up box in the corner of my Google Reader screen while I’m reading the latest Terribleminds post.

  19. Loving G+ so far…but no, it’s not there yet. I wash with admiration and anticipation of the day when it’s fully open to the public – and the windows of hurry-up-and-invite-your-friends-before-BigG-shuts-it-down are over. As a content provider, I know a single social media outlet is never going to happen – I’ll always need to keep up with two or three. I’ve already seen a lot of traffic from my (meager) Google+ stream. But aside from that, I am much more comfortable using G+ than I am Facebook. Facebook is a toilet. It’s a depository for everyone’s mental diarrhea and that’s what bothers me. Signal-to-noise ratio is pretty horrid. And there’s no way I can focus my posts (Aunt Bea doesn’t give a shit that I am testing a new camera) and it’s a great way to focus what I want to read (I also don’t care about Aunt Bea’s colitis…at least not at the moment). The Reciprocity-required approach of Facebook is also dated…I don’t want to have to be “friends” (mutual following) with people to follow them. The “Like” system helped with that slightly, but it just added noise. That last point is exactly why I love Twitter.

    But where twitter can get annoying is following a conversation. WIthout the use of an app like Tweetdeck, I certainly could not fathom trying to use twitter out-of-the-box to track conversations. There is also a pretty low ratio of signal-to-noise. But this is somewhat counter-balanced by the 140char limit. Albeit, that can be a bit of a nusiance sometimes. Many tweets lack vowels, or replace legitimate words with numbers (t’s gr8! c u @ prty).

    Enter Google+. I’ll be honest, when it picks up momentum, and when third party apps start to take advantage of its API, I think it will eat away at Facebook. Will it throw FB by way of Myspace? Not likely. I still think FB has many years before it’s a dinosaur, if only because it has half the worlds population at its door. But I certainly look forward to the day that FB can be jettisoned from my social media kit.

  20. The main draw for me is that I can convince people to going Google+ that wouldn’t in a million years go near Facebook. Which means that it might actually be the site to finally kill Livejournal for me.

  21. I’ve been suffering from social network proliferation fatigue for some time now, and nothing anyone has said about G+ makes me want to add to my list of Things I’m Doing Instead of Doing Actual Things. You’ve only further entrenched my lack of interest, and for that, I thank you.

    • @Jeff:

      You misread. I despite FROOT LOOPS, because dang, that’s not even real fruit.

      FRUITY PEBBLES is clearly real fruit. I mean, it’s right there. In the spelling!

      — c.

  22. I’ve only been on Google+ a couple of days, so I’m not sure how useful it will be, but I like the concept of circles. I love Twitter, but private convos can only be 1-to-1 – if Circles allow private group discussions, that’s a big plus in my book. And since I’ve been using FB less and less owing to the combination of mutual following and privacy issues, I’d be happy to switch to G+ if it becomes popular.

    But I won’t be abandoning Twitter any time soon – it’s too much fun!

  23. The problem with an interest like Recipes is it’s a common search term. Add that to the new +1 button and anyone who hits it bumps a recipe up the list of the Spark. I use two to four word interests. It minimizes how much crap you get (You still get crap, since it is just an open Google search with a social media rank). An example is I’ve got a Dungeons and Dragons Spark which has produced a few cool videos and a link or two worth following. TweetDeck has sent me some news about what’s going on with TweetDeck and Twitter. A friend of mine actually compared sparks to StumbledUpon.

  24. Loved this article…had me laughing out loud at work.

    I joined up on The GP last week, and I agree that it wasn’t immediately intuitive at first, but few things in this life are perfectly intuitive from the get-go…even Facebook (why do I still get Poked? WHY?).

    What I like about G-Pizzle is the integration with the Google platform. I don’t have to receive an email in my inbox, then click a link to go to another website to view the post that someone just tagged me in. Now there is a drop-down feed up in the corner of my inbox that allows me to get updates without changing websites. (I’m quite convinced that it won’t be too long before every website has “__.google.__” somewhere in it’s address, but I digest.)

    Overall, I agree with the general statement that it’s just a cleaner version of Facebook at this point…if someone asks me why they should switch to it, I have no response for them.

  25. So it’s just one more thing to think about and my brain’s full enough as it is. Not saying I think it’s bad. Or think it’s good for that matter. I’m just having a hard time caring much.

    I mean, sure, NEW SHINY THING! But it’s just not pulling me in.

  26. I’m going to wait to start using Google + until I see other writers & normal people using it.

    Just like when the 1st generation iPod came out years ago or when the Model T first hit the market. I’m just gonna hang back and see when/if it takes off.

  27. There is a lot of tweaking that needs to be done, but I think it will be very useful. Circles are good. Not everyone wants to see video of my child, but some people do – I can post to that circle. I have my “book type people” circle, my hockey circle, etc. so everyone doesn’t have to hear all of the noise. That is the real problem with Facebook. Once some of the kinks are worked out and more people start getting the hang of it (or, like, all of us), I think it has great potential. For Android phone users, the mobile app is glorious. It is already beyond any app available for Facebook or twitter. The twitters are still my favorite, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but Google + is pretty cool.

  28. Great rant. Was spot on lunch time reading.

    One thing about the Gonzo OmG G+ rocks people.. That me, so from my POV. I love it so gdmn much and think it is way more than just an incrimental bump over FB because … It’s google. I already use gmail, google docs, g calendar, sites, hosting, goggle for business, etc etc etc … I can see all these services being integrated even more so, and there will be no need for me to go back to FB land in the near future. The privacy controls alone kickass over FB and, I suppose you could say it’s incremental, but I see it as much more so than that.

    Your also forgetting one other social media network that G+ could be competitive for : linkedin.com. So to me, G+ = FB + linkedin + twitter with Google apps integration and better privacy controls.

    My 2¢

  29. So, okay, here’s an example.

    I’m trying to think a very simple thing: “Okay. Who would want to see baby photos? Right? Those probably annoy some people, thrill others.”

    Friends, family, easy. Not that I have any family on G+, but whatever.

    Except, I know some people who are in other circles probably want to see the baby photos. I just don’t know who. Who crosses over into friend? Acquaintance? I assume the people who want to see baby photos already see them at Flickr, or Facebook, or Twitter, and now I’m left with a second question: should I even post them at all? If I do, who gets excluded? Who gets included?

    And suddenly I’m overwhelmed by this very simple question when, frankly, I have actual shit to do.

    And so the default occurs:

    I post the baby photo to everybody, and you either like it, and deal with it, or you ignore it and/or, I dunno, eat a bag of flaming poo.


    I’m not sure I want my social media to have this much granularity. I dunno.

    — c.

  30. @Chuck: Some valid points in the post and comments, but having poked around G+ for a week now, I think many people are underestimating what it represents. This Wired article has some great insights on how big an initiative G+ really is, and the paradigm shift it potentially represents for social networking: “Networks are for networking. Circles are for the right people.”


    Circles is my favorite component as it’s not just Google’s version of Facebook and Twitter lists, but a more intuitive combo of filtering and privacy controls. The default stream includes everyone you’ve added to a circle, the full firehose. For now, that’s the one I check regularly, but I’ve also created an “*Inbox” Circle that includes the people I don’t want to miss, in anticipation of the firehose inevitably becoming too much. My other Circles are special interest groups to which I can filter my own posts accordingly; eg: you’re in “Beer and Bourbon” circle!

    The invitation method is less a repeat of Wave and more a lesson learned from Buzz’s botched all-in release. They’ve done a much better job this time of allowing people to invite others in, staggering the availability and release of invites, and I’ve been amazed by the rapid influx over the weekend of people from a variety of “circles.”

    As with any social network, YMMV, but overall, I’m liking G+ a lot and think it’s going to stick.

    • @Guy —

      See, in theory, some of that sounds pretty cool.

      But let’s take that BEER AND BOURBON circle.

      So, I create that circle. I put into it the people I know are B&B heads, because, duh, that’s what it’s for.

      Except that misses the magic of social media. It misses the forging of random connections. See, if I get on Twitter, and I post about beer and bourbon, I’ll find comments from people I may not know. Or others I know but I had no idea were bourbon aficionados. That’s the power of social media, and especially of Twitter. If G+ ends up just being circles of people I already know are interested in certain things, there’s very little growth. For instance: would I have ever met you if it had just come down to G+ (or even Facebook) being the primary social media I use?

      Possibly not.

      I worry that Circles, in trying to be inclusionary, are going to be exclusionary, instead.

      — c.

  31. @Chuck: I think that’s where G+ wins; it offers the *option* to include or exclude, and to do so on a granular level that most people probably won’t bother with, but if they want to, it’s a lot more intuitive than Facebook. I’ve set up a bunch of Circles so far, but with the exception of some cat pictures, everything I’ve posted has been public and I’ve made already some interesting new connections.

    For me, the biggest difference between Twitter and G+ comes down to the real-time aspect; I don’t have the time or desire to be plugged in 24/7 anymore which has immediately made Twitter feel less valuable to me. It’s still early, but it’s worth noting that it took me almost a year to find the right fit for Twitter, and less than 30 days after I changed jobs for it stop fitting as well.

  32. As regards the granularity, that’s a feature for a lot of people. I find myself a little leery of posting my politics on facebook because my family includes a few (thankfully not a lot) of fairly conservative people who I’d rather not have to deal with awkwardly starting arguments at family gatherings. Likewise, I don’t discuss my sexual or religious identity, because my sweet and loving grandparents would be crushed to find out I’m going to hell based on their interpretation of the bible.

    In a way, Circles can act as your demeanor. That kind of granularity can help your family relationships as much as it can your “writer’s platform.”

  33. The best part of any new web site / technology is always the wealth of lengthy, indignant lectures people give on JUST HOW UNINTERESTED AND UNDERWHELMED THEY ARE. I’m not using this technology, and it’s important you know that!

    I kid, though, funny rant.

    • @Dan —

      I don’t know that it’s any different from the early adopter zealots who appear and claim it to be the Best Thing Since Snortable Cheeto Dust. 🙂

      — c.

    • @Chris:

      I can totally see that. I guess the thing for me is, generally I have enjoyed that social media up until now has had no walls. I’m ultimately fairly open (and to be clear, I’m not suggesting this is wise or at all in line with your experiences and concerns), and so when I post about writing or bourbon or dogs or politics or family or whatever, I enjoy the crossover I get, I enjoy reaching people I didn’t expect to reach. As opposed to just being, say, my Writer’s Platform or my Family Photo Album.

      Again, I totally grok how that’s a feature for many. I’m not yet sure that it’s a feature for me. The Internet runs the risk of being cliquish, and I can see G+ informing that rather than the opposite.

      — c.

  34. @Old Man Wendig

    As someone who has been digging on G+ so far, I’ve been reading your reactions with a pretty skeptical eye. Your last comment about Circles becoming exclusionary, though, brings me around to what you’re seeing. Great point there.

    Does anyone know if there is a way to target the public at large with a post while still filtering out certain defined Circles?

    • @Zack:


      Oh, oh, okay.

      Anyway, right, exclusionary. Circles run the risk of becoming little echo chambers. Right? I post my political rant to my Political Rant Circle, and now I don’t engage in meaningful debate, I don’t cross-connect with people, I don’t challenge or become challenged, I don’t find people out there who unbeknownst to me feel the same way I do, etc.etc.

      Cliques and echo chambers, I fear.

      And again, micromanagement to reach that state.

      To be clear, my skepticism can be all mine, that’s fine. If the rest of the world wants to finger-bang some Google-Plus, hey, okay. I’ll come on over and get in on that if that’s where the herd moves. Social media doesn’t work if it’s just me standing on a mountaintop masturbating to goats.

      And don’t think I haven’t tried that tack.

      — c.

  35. “Political rant” and “meaningful debate” are never intended to share the same space. If you choose to only post to your true believers, then you will only get feedback from your true believers. You will live in an echo chamber.

    But, of course, that also means that you never get a chance to convince the great unwashed masses that you’re right. To do that, you have to expand your, well, circles of influence. Or, maybe, even go public.

    None of this is new to Google+. Hell, it’s not even new to the internet. You could make the same arguments about salons in 18th century Paris or churches along the medieval Mediterranean. You can either be social, or be safe. Different people will select different points along that spectrum.

  36. I’m using FB less and less because of all the crap it bombards you with. Like someone else said, I use primarily to converse with friends and family that only post to FB. Twitter is much more my style. I tried to get into G+ but needed an invitation. If you’re still throwing those out there I would love one 😀

  37. I think I’m going to miss the way Twitter has made it possible to get to know weird and wonderful people just by chance. And on Twitter when I click on a link, it’s been chosen by someone I follow, and the probability that it’s going to be interesting is much, much higher than in the Google+ Sparks, which are really a Google minus at the moment, if you ask me. I clicked on the Recipe Spark this afternoon and the top hit was for IAMS dogfood. A search for “British Recipes” got me some anime on YouTube. You can do better than that with a simple Google search, and you can do *much* better than that clicking on a link provided by a British person on Twitter offering up a favorite recipe.

    That said, it’s in beta. Always a little patience with a product in beta.

    • @Janet:

      You talk as if they’re taking away Twitter. Do you know something we don’t?!

      They’ll take my Twitters when they pry it from my cold dead iPhone.

      Or something.


      — c.

  38. OK, let me use your analogy. The thing is, it’s not Fruity Pebbles vs. Fruit Loops. It’s Fruity Pebbles vs. Cocoa Puffs. For years, there have been some of us who really want cereal, but HATE chocolate. But, Cocoa Puffs was the only cereal we had. Now, somebody has given us Fruity Pebbles, and we can quit eating the hateful Cocoa Puffs! Hallelujah!!

    Of course, if you can’t give two shits about cereal, or don’t care if your cereal has chocolate on it, then you just won’t care. And that’s fine. As much as I’ve used it, I don’t see anything revolutionary in Google+ either. Just stuff that works a LOT better for me.

    I’m also expecting much more Google-wide integration coming down the pike. Being able to share posts directly from Google Reader. Being able to use Google Buzz to integrate other social media. Being able to save posts off into Google Docs. (Incidentally, Sparks is just the nearly ancient Google News Alerts with a social media spin. And, they are really intended to help you find other users with similar interests.) That is when we shall see whether or not this really works as intended.

  39. I’m not sure the circles will become echo chambers. The default is an open tap and I like that. I think of them more like noise filters. Sometimes I like a little craziness, but I can’t always take all the crap coming my way. That’s where the circles come in. Sometimes, I just want to hear how my buddies in the “Blood Cult” circle are doing.

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