I admit it: I’m kind of burned out on Social networks at this point. I am a member, or have been, of: Friendster, Pownce, Orkut (possibly Jaiku, who gives a shit can keep track?), Twitter (2 accounts + around 6 joke accounts), Facebook, Tumblr (3 blogs), LinkedIn, Coroflot (when it was called something else), Identi.Ca, kvitre.no, WordPress.com, Fluther (more of a community), MySpace, bebo, delicious, Diaspora (the hub at poddery.com), Flickr, Foursquare (more here), Gowalla, Posterous (more here), GoodReads, Path, Last.fm, LiveJournal, My Opera, Pinterest, Virb, Instagram, PicPlz, soup.io and WAYN. And that’s just the stuff I remember off top of my head.
Lastly, of course, there’s Google+, the mighty G’s attempt at coralling you into an even smaller corner of the Internet. I have no doubt that Sergey and Larry’s pet eventually will take off in a big way, much like Android has. “If you build it, they will come,” as the movie said, and ultimately, the people will haz their hamburgerz, and the hardcore G+ users will complain about getting what they wanted in the first place: the patronage of the common rabble. So it goes.
At the moment, however, it’s something of a ghost town over there. I assume my user pattern is pretty standard: drop by every now and then, look around, then leave. The new redesign is very nice; clean, simple and appealing. You can do pretty much anything, and I’m told that if you know where to look (and can be bothered to do so) there’s lots of interesting content to be found. On the whole, though, I just can’t be bothered. I much prefer blogging here and sharing elsewhere, like on Tumblr.
More than the post-apocalyptic experience, though, I think what gets me most about Google+ is its evangelists: huffy folks, most of whom deliver a similar cri de coeur with equal fervour: “G+ is where I go for interesting people with whom I have interesting conversations about interesting things, without all the idiot updates from my stupid friends.”
I don’t know about you, but that line of arguing doesn’t really make me feel terribly wanted. Paradoxically, in attempting to make you switch to The Next Big Thing, the early adopters and hardliners have made Google+ pretty unappealing: beyond Page and Brin’s vaguely desperate pleas to come play with them (a tactic we all know won’t get you laid), it sounds like a social network for people who are (or at least consider themselves) better than you, a social network without all that pesky, you know, social stuff.
Like I said, I have no doubt Google+ will eventually be huge. The user base has already grown a lot, in no little part thanks to, ahem, creative registration (yeah, sure, ogling watching that Secret video counts as using G+). It’s not that far a stretch to imagine that you’ll eventually need to sign up for an account just to use Google Search. Hyperbolic? Perhaps. Assuming activated Android phones automatically will count as well: probably less so.
I understand Google has every right to do this; the company can do whatever they want. They’ve built a billion-dollar empire, a colossus straddling the whole globe, pushing the future before them, while I’m just an asshole with a blog, so what do I know? Regardless, It still seems vaguely off to me, a retroactive move to catch up from a company that’s usually in the lead.
I’ll readily admit there’s a lot that annoys me about Facebook, but my friends are there, and unlike the most vociferous Google+ users, I actually like my friends, warts and all.