Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a good time to be alive

I'm happy this evening. Is it the endorphins drifting through my blood after another run? Is it the slight reduction in the sweltering heat today? Is it that I have dry feet? Or could it be tomorrow's public holiday?

No. Better than that: there's a new social network.

Am I being ironic? Am I being hyperbolic? Am I talking hyper bollocks? Is a new social website with a less cluttered interface the only sign that you're living in the best of all possible worlds? Am I deeply confused? Did Google really think Google Plus was a good name, or is this just Microsoft-redux, a tech giant flailing at its younger competitor?


Microsoft is still around, which confuses things a bit, and still kind of relevant. And perhaps more people think Facebook is Eeeeevil than think the same of Google. New social websites always have that sense of grace and calm early on, before you add all your friends and clutter the place up. Damn, Myspace looked quite tidy once.1

It seems a bit quixotic right now to leap onto Google Plus instead of Facebook. After all, social websites are only good if everyone you know is on them. Although pace Groucho Marx and, the only website worth joining is one other people can't get on.

So is it worth clambering onto Google Plus? It's not a choice you have to make straight away: Google are being fairly parsimonious with invitations. And although there's no Farmville there right now, the jury is out on whether that's terrible. You can't throw cows at people. But then again, people can't throw cows at you.

The nice thing about Google Plus? It's not the circles, which look cool but in six months time will probably seem like a terrible waste of screen real estate2. No, it's the way they've actually made it easy for you to see the things you've liked. Sorry, "+1"ed. Apart from raging about how you were giving yourself away to advertisers for nothing by telling them what you "Like", you really don't get much out of it. Whereas on Plus (Google+? GP? G+?) you appear to be able to actually search what you've liked, which gets you close to what stumbleupon/reddit/another social bookmarking tool should have been. If they can make a version of Twitter where conversations are easy to follow, then we'll be done.

Is that really the best thing since sliced bread? Should we be glad for a fragmentation of the social media space? Or is it just better to sell your soul to the highest bidder when there's more than one of them?

1 Isn't it fun that Myspace now appears to be not much more than a practical joke at the (massive) expense of Rupert Mordor? Sorry, Murdoch. What was I thinking?
2 I reserve the right to pretend not to have said this in six months time, depending how things turn out.


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