Monday, July 11, 2011

A Few Thoughts After A Few Days of Google+

I almost had an anxiety attack while setting up my Google+ account.  I've been on Facebook for a long time and I find, to steal a line from Tom Lehrer, that Google+ is so simple that only a child can do it.  I thought I might post some of the pros and cons that I'm already feeling from Google+


Every photo I've ever uploaded via a Google platform is immediately available on Google+.
I can actually identify my step-kids as family (major failure, Facebook!)
It seems to be moving toward a conglomerate internet experience.  I am sensing cobbled together elements of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and those sharey sites like Reddit or Tumblr and so forth.


Extraordinarily baroque.  It's like getting a stereo with an intricate graphic equalizer and no clue how to use it.
Very few people are on it whereas most of human life is on Facebook.
Starting work on building my own internet conglomerate experience isn't practical for me.  I want it to be done for me, which is why I don't understand why people keep telling me that Google+ is intuitive.  If it's so blasted intuitive, why is there so much I have to do to set it up?  Those sites I listed in the pro- column which I said Google+ seems to be employing (or exploiting) elements of, I never needed a single article to explain to me how to get started on any of those sites.  I've read at least five to try to figure out Google+.  In short, I don't have time for this.

Currently, in my experience, most of what's going on on Google+ is people discussing how Google+ works.  I suppose that is as natural as my neophobia, but I would add that both point to something gang agley.

There are elements that defy pros and cons like the access to one's Picasa account.  I had a personal Picasa account once, long long ago, and I used it liberally until I filled it up to the point where I would have to start paying for more.  At which point I forgot that the thing even existed until I logged on to Google+ and found pictures of Laurie and I with vastly different haircuts than our current ones.  Then I apparently had Picasa accounts associated with my Blogger accounts (unawares) which do contain some more recent pictures of me, but mainly contain pictures of covers of books that I was writing about in a specific entry (images which I gravely doubt having a legitimate claim to any right to use.)  Facebook, on the other hand, contains many recent pictures of me that I've uploaded one by one over the past few years.  It is a Rome that I've built over time.  Now I'm being called upon to build a new one and I find the prospect unattractive.

Also, and I know I'm being difficult, but I can't tell you how much I wished when I first logged on that there was a tool by which I could find which of my Facebook friends are on Google+.

I also wish to say a few words about Circles.  The advent of Circles has taught me something that I like about what Facebook has done to me that I didn't even realize it was doing.  Facebook is a place where I have a couple hundred people watching and I write messages to them, share videos with them, and photos from my personal life.  The person I present in those messages is, I hope, the person that I am.

In life, so often I have found that I am at my worst when I say things to one group of people that I wouldn't want others to hear.  I don't want to speak behind people's back by any means.  People who know me know that I am politically to the Left and religiously towards Quakerism, and while I do have issues that I feel passionately about, I love people who I know are neither of those things.  So I seek to tailor myself to incline towards that love rather than stroking my own self-righteousness.  That love I have for those people is the reason I am there in the first place and not just off in some corner reading a book.  In a way, Facebook's limited capacity to limit one's viewers within one's peer group demands a certain amount of integrity on the part of the user.

Mainly I talk about literature and tea. 

However, I am not seeking to damn Circles (ten bucks says someone has already categorized their friends into Dante's nine infernal circles.)  As with any technology, it is not the technology, it is those who wield it who decide how it will be applied.  I remember the old accusation that Twitter is vapid, to which I always say, "Try following @stephenfry or @alaindebotton."  I could see Circles working very well in a situation like a book reading group.    

I am admittedly middle-brow as far as internet culture goes.  I have the natural interest when some shiny new gee-gaw shows up, I get an account, I see if it's going to enrich my life.  I refuse to sacrifice an ounce of my quality of life on the altar of new technology.  I have a sense that Google+ may end up only appealing to a certain type.

To borrow a gimmick from The Motley Fool: Buy, Sell, or Hold Google+?  I would say Hold at this point.  Hold until the platform is rolled out in full for the general public and watch for the first few weeks.  The moment it seems to be crashing under its own weight (like, oh say, a Wave?): Sell.  My primary concern is that I am only marginally internet savvy in a purely utilitarian way.  For anyone less internet savvy than I, Google+ seems to be totally perplexing.

My own plan is to have the account that I have, let it sit there, and see if it catches on.  If it does, I can swoop back into my account and play.  If it doesn't, I'll let it go like putting an opossum in an unsealed Tupperware storage container and letting to drift out to sea, making a lot of noise and commotion, signifying nothing.


  1. I'm playing with it. I'll be interested to see how and if they integrate the blogger platform; apparently they're going to be focusing on that in coming months. The circles work for me, because I can place my students in one circle and spam them continually with educational materials, without annoying all my other followers. Also, I can limit the amount of information available to my internet friends, the people I haven't met in real life. For me, the circles are a good thing. As of right now. If anyone else ever joins.

  2. I take exception to the idea that needing circles indicates a lack of integrity. Sometimes your friends can be so staunchly set in their ways that if you were to post your opinion about Palestine in a place where they would see it, the argument would never end until you unfriend them. Wanting to avoid such things doesn't make one disintegrated. Furthermore, if one has friends from work, it might be inappropriate to link to ones blog posts on theology. The idea of a public sphere and a private sphere are nothing new. This is simply a social network that recognizes that reality.

  3. I have to agree with Aaron, here. The simplicity of one face is commendable, but in my world, it is impossible. There are times, we all know, when anonymity becomes important. On the other hand, letting a few people into the secret is usually a blessing. I, in turns, withdrew from the social web or completely censored myself while going through divorce and custody hearings. This is an area that still stays very circumspect wherever the public sphere is concerned. Privacy is important.

    On a less dramatic note, like Sarah, I have vocational reasons for wanting circles. I don't want to post my tech-geek stuff for general consumption. I can post that to work and tech circles. We all know about the necessity of work filters. And just how many people on my Facebook friends list give a flappy duck about my books? Less than 5%, I'd guess. I've already made a circle for some of the mailing lists I'm on. Some of the people in them are in my friends circle, as well. Some aren't.

    Someone said Google+ seems more oriented toward conversation than FB. I don't know if this is true. I hope it is. I can see the potential of it acting as an ad hoc forum in a way to which Twitter doesn't even aspire.

    I guess I don't need Facebook. I keep it around for the friends that won't interact with me in any other way. But I like Twitter, though it's obviously limited for in depth communication. I can see Google+ excelling at ad hoc in the way of Twitter, but with the potential for discussion in a way that doesn't happen in my current use of Facebook.

  4. Gentlemen, saying "In a way, Facebook's limited capacity to limit one's viewers within one's peer group demands a certain amount of integrity on the part of the user" is not the same as saying "Those who use Circles lack integrity." One of the chief differences that I would highlight in this context is that the former is what I said and the latter is not.

  5. Even though I <3 Google+, I +1'd your post regardless...

  6. One of the chief differences that I would highlight in this context is that the former is what I said and the latter is not.

    Ha! And you really haven't read Chesterton? Or am I thinking of someone else? That was a deliciously Chestertonian rebuttal.

  7. Paul's deliciousness is vastly underrated.

  8. Perhaps Ben & Jerry's could capitalize on it? Caramel Swirled Rhetoric? No. Not snappy enough. Rhetorical Chunk?

  9. I think you just came up with my new nickname.