Hopes for Google Plus

I haven’t been a big fan of social networks to date. Largely because I believe that social networks are defined by people and not so much by software. Software does have a place though and can play a very big part. Until now, social networks have been synonymous with Facebook. For me, Facebook is a social channel like Twitter, Flickr, Buzz and email just to name a few.

The nice thing about Google’s social effort is that it isn’t about figuring out what features it has to prioritize to go to market with; it’s been mostly about how to package it so that it will be most interesting and useful to the members of a new community. Google was able to start with having Picasa as their default web album, YouTube for their videos, Talk for their messaging infrastructure and Gmail for email and relationships. The concern about not having enough data seems to be a bit unfounded in general.

Here is where I hope Google Plus will be different because it has a strong opportunity to be different. My biggest concern about Google Plus is that it will be another walled garden like the other channels today. If it is, it will have to try to persuade people to add another channel that is unlikely going to be unique. The theme of how Google can be different relates around consolidation and aggregation. This plays into some of Google’s key strength as part of the reason why their search is so powerful is that it intelligently identifies duplication and removes it from the search results.

I am starting to suffer from social channel burn out. Although I have joined as many channels as I know of today, I participate in very few which really defeats the purpose of a channel. One of the nice features that Google Plus has today is that it allows you the ability to interact with others through Google Plus and email. Hopefully, over time they will allow you to interact with people through the other channels as well and allow people to interact with others using the channel that is most meaningful to them. However, in doing do, Google has to duplicate the information at times as there is a strong likelihood that members of the same circle could need to be reached over multiple channels. Plus then needs to consolidate that information so it’s not represented multiple times in my stream otherwise it would generate a lot of noise. This would be no different then any other social channel today.

Personally, I find myself using Google Plus more and more. A large part of that has to do with Gmail being my primary email provider both personally and professionally. This decision makes sense; Gmail is where the concept of contacts and relationships are most prevalent. Lately, Google has also embedded Talk and Voice within Gmail, using it as a launch point for these services. While Google doesn’t work with Google Apps right now, there are plans to accelerate its availability to Google App users. However, making it available will not be enough. They also need a way to somehow consolidate the experience where my relationships between those accounts or personalities are not duplicated by rather aggregated in an intelligent way. Just as I hope that Google will find a way to aggregate the information coming through my stream, I am also hoping that Google will consolidate my critical services (email, chat, voice and video communications) through Plus as well.

There is without a doubt that social is a big deal for Google. In very many ways, it is the same reason why Android is and was important to Google – it’s a way to feed their gigantic advertising machine. It is a way of gathering more information about you so it can feed you more relevant advertisement to you. At the same time, they are also giving you access to the data you create and hopefully manage and own. Regardless of why they launch Google Plus or what features they launch, I hope they will be different because they need to be.

Google Buzz creating too much noise?

There was an interesting Buzz going on started by Louis Grey, one of my favorite bloggers on the web where he’s talking about the noise that cross posting makes. I tried to submit a comment and I couldn’t so I opted to write this thought on my blog instead 😀

Historically speaking, there has been minimal overlap between my Twitter followers and my Facebook followers as I use both quite differently. Buzz is the first time where this problem is about to be an issue. I had originally started this comment with the thought that perhaps the answer is two-way response on Buzz but the solution really is much more intricate than that. It’s got to be automatic aggregation of posts ala Thoora as well. It’d be neat to post something and Buzz automatically recognizes that it already went to other feeds and not post it multiple times but just badge it to say that it was posted on Buzz, Twitter and Facebook for instance. That would make Buzz a much more powerful social tool indeed.

Noise from the network

Long before Facebook or MySpace existed another tool called Six Degrees. It offered some of the same elements that has become the mainstay of what everyone considers what a good social networking site should be. For whatever reason, it never grew into the phenom that is Facebook. Part of the reason why it probably failed was because that the internet environment lacked the maturity it does today. And by maturity, I mean size of population that has fast enough bandwith and understanding of the world wide web.

However, this growth also presents a different problem. All of a sudden there is noise from the networks. Sometimes the noise are echoes (repetitive messages), sometime it's static (unclear messages) and sometimes it's distortion (conflicting messages). Some of this noise stems from the general devolvement of social media communication. Microblogging allows for quick transmission so it tends to be choppy, incomplete but frequent. I like it for the fact that if I follow the right people, I can get information quickly. Right now, I get very updated information on web 2.0 type news as well as mobile platform news.

As much as there is much noise being generated by the network right now, I strongly believe that your network is also going to be the best place to create a filter for the information that is being spewed right now. I believe tools like Google Reader, delicious and Social Median are the start of enabling this. I share all my interests with subsets of my friends. If they were socially active, things that they read or talk about could be of interest to me and enrich my knowledge of those topics. Based on those subsets, they would introduce new information and filter out much of the noise for me and I for them. This is one of the most powerful capabilities of our social network that we are just starting to leverage.

Ironically enough, while writing this blog entry, I came across an article entitled The Social Network is underhyped through Twitter. It's relevant in 2 regards. The medium it came in was Twitter and it highlighted a point that I've been dwelling on for a while. I would have not come across this article through my normal means if all I was reading were just my blog entries. There are so many ideas that can stem from the thoughts surounding networking on the world wide web.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

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