A very early reaction to Google+

I’ve been playing with Google+ for over a week now and below is  my early reaction. First, if you don’t know, Google+ is Google’s latest answer to Facebook. In fact, it is very much like Facebook with one major difference, the ability to sort “friends” into “circles” or groups. The point is, you can control which circles (subsets of friends) see each post. As this would suggest, overall there is much more transparent and better control of privacy than on Facebook. Good!

It being very new, with additional features likely to come out soon, I don’t think it is fair to conclude anything about G+. Yet I want to propose some ways I think it can be better, at least for me.

First, it’s instructive to consider what I like and don’t about various social media.

  • Twitter: Short posts! Easy to scan, easy to filter, easy to RT (retweet). All of that makes it quick to digest. The good stuff gets RT’d a lot, making it easier to notice. All in all, it’s not too hard to extract value with little effort.
  • Blogs: Good curators exist. I don’t have to read every post of many blogs to find out what’s important today. Reading a small percentage of many or a large percentage of just a few is enough. Again, one can extract high value for modest effort.
  • Google Reader: I like the list view where I see the titles and open to see a post. The titles in list view are Twitter-like, easy to scan. That’s efficient.
  • Facebook: I don’t like it because I can’t see how to efficiently extract value. It’s a mess and I don’t have time or interest in reading through loads of posts on people’s daily activities and interests just to, maybe, find something that might be fun. It’s just not for me.

What does this mean for G+ and me? I would like to see it be less Facebook-like and move toward something that combines the virtues of Twitter, blogs, and Google Reader. The way to do this would be for every post one makes to have a title that is the equivalent of a tweet. One could optionally view one’s “stream” in a Twitter-like mode, seeing only the titles. It’d be easier to scan. Sharing would resemble retweeting, which, as I said, has the value of amplifying what is of greater importance or interest.

If one wants to see a post’s details, clicking to open would reveal them, just like Google Reader. The content of a post would be or could be blog-like, just as the title is Twitter-like. Perhaps some G+ deities would serve curator roles, though that remains to be seen. Since posts can be designated as fully public it is more possible than on Facebook, which has no such thing (right?).

I’d like to see the ability for the G+ titles I propose to be piped to one’s Twitter account, optionally, along with a link to the full post.

Finally, as the above suggestion implies, I’d like to see G+ more easily integrated with Twitter and blog feeds, with the ability to pipe content among all three easily and automatically. Thus, this blog’s content could show up in G+, just as it does on Twitter and Facebook now. Twitter feeds could end up in G+ and G+ titles in Twitter. What a beautiful world that would be. Broadly, I want to separate content from how it is consumed. If one wants to read this blog in G+, fine (though right now you can’t), or on Facebook, also fine (you can do that now), etc. If one wants my Tweets in G+, great (not possible yet) or on Facebook, also no problem (and, that can be done now).

Fundamentally, if G+ does not get easier to use efficiently and more flexible with content sharing, I will stop using it. Google has done a good job with circles. They had better continue to innovate quickly if they ever want to be a substantial competitor with Facebook. If G+ remains largely a Facebook clone, I will not use it. Why should I? I already have a Facebook account I don’t use. Circles are cool, but not enough to sustain my social media needs and interests.

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