Okay, Google. look stop it now. Please, you’re acting like the guest at a houseparty who refuses to talk to another guest over an eight-year long misunderstanding about who didn’t pay petrol money to whom. I get why you’re a bit off and funny, what with my preference for laptops over Macs, and tea rooms over coffee shops. Is it because I prefer my taxes paid in full?
Fact is, Google old chum, you still believe in the bizarro-nightmare vision of Google+ created in your thought-pods. Have you watched that advert again? A family accepting Google as surrogate baby-sitter, educator, first-date, and heaven only knows what else. It’s marginally less acceptable than Kerry Katona as finance adviser. The Google clan probably peel back their skin every night to reveal Google-design motherboards. Memo to your HQ boffins, Google – there are teenagers in Wolverhampton only just getting through school with a greater understanding of the contents of a woman’s bottom drawer than grown-ups have when faced with the Google+ interface. Is it any wonder nobody quite knew how to react politely when faced with one of your own spokespersons suggesting that nobody was using it correctly?
I’ve written time after time about Google+, or more accurately against it. It’s the 21st century version of the AOL walled-garden (and even in the face of when I’m about to type, that is still true); and very few people are using those big fat red G buttons (ditto).
And so, here we again….Ish. For I’m here to ask Google to calm down, pull up a chair and listen.
Because I’ve been using the social media site that we’re not supposed to call social media….and understanding it. Yep, finally, slowly, surely, I’m understanding what Google+ is all about. Well, to a point. Because even one week of following the big red G button has shown me three things:
1) YouTube has nothing on the amount of racist dribble masquerading as political debate.
2) By far the most popular Communities – supposedly the saviour of G+ – are groups for designers, progammers, SEO nerds and Raspberry Pi types. Ordinary, normal folk who use a laptop aren’t catered for.
3) Americans love it. Brits clearly don’t.
I sorta, kinda almost understand how G+ works, which is an achievement of the highest kind. At best it’s a mix of news aggregater (ahem cough sneeze) and PR machine, where the lack of people using a particular group actually helps calm down debate. I shouldn’t feel comfortable discussing on a Google service a story sourced via Google News (on Google Chrome, no less), without feeling the need to scrub myself of all corporate branding. And yet..
There are significant flaws. The UK politics “community” is moribund, with most stories posted by the same person who swears he’s not an EDL member but aren’t all these race-related stories interesting? Searching for other communities brings up a handful of one- and two- member coffins and patchworks of barely related results that shows Google’s own search function can go screwy when there’s nothing to look through.
Significantly, most of the popular trends on Google+ are tech and programmer related, where there’s at least no interminable ‘discussion’ as floods the religion and US politics sections. I can see G+ eventually being taken over almost entirely by tech/programmers, as they’ve managed to carve out a reason for the whole site existing. The combination of timeline-style wall, Hangouts, communities and Google’s map/news/stats tie-ins makes it a tech paradise, and far more of a “walled garden” than any other social media site. I can understand the approach and appeal more than before, but tellingly, one week of never leaving followed by one week of not posting has returned by notifications to the big-fat constant “0” it was for months before. Discounting the Foreign Office and BBC News flooding the Politics ‘circle’, there’s been no organic discussion in seven days.
So I get G+ now. But I don’t have to like it.