Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Google+:Usecase Fail; Keeping up with Friends & Associates

Part One of a Series: "The Long Slow Painful Death of Google+

The recent brutal and dishonest troll attack on my character on Google+ has convinced me more than ever that it is critical to get off that platform as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  At the same time, I want to do what I can to salvage my considerable investment there - it took a great deal of time and effort to get my 67,000 followers, and 65,000 member business community - these were not gifted to me like that despicable  excuse for a human who launched the most recent attempt at a smear campaign who was actually put on Google's corrupt "suggested user's list".  

I still remember his last comment after sticking his nose in my business and making his disgusting allegation - that I am "making Google look bad" by posting goofy G rated pictures of women in bikini's.    People have the right to think is is absurd that someone would think I have such power, but that is the way many people on Google+ actually think in the culture Google has created there - especially now that it has become dominated by "social media professionals".

Every general will tell you that a retreat is the hardest military maneuver to execute, and getting off a social media platform like Google+ might require almost as much energy to get off as it did to get on, all the more so because Google makes this as difficult at they possibly can and along the way you realize that they own just about everything you thought was yours and give you almost no control over your own information.

I am going to be documenting this process, and along the way I will tell you why I am leaving, and what I am putting in its place.  This post is just about the "why" - and is part of an analysis of  "use case fails" on Google+.    Lots of use case fails come to mind right off the bat - "posting what you want' - you can't do that on Google+  because of the culture there - in fact the only thing totally safe to post on Google+ is posts about Google+ itself - or praise of Google.

The one I will mention here, is the one you might have thought was their primary mission - "keeping up with friends" - because if the poor design of Google+ this is almost impossible.   They use a "continuous stream" - there is not "next page' or "mark this read" to know when you have caught up with friend's posts.   What you see instead on Google+ is "people you follow who post frequently". If a friend only posts every week or two you will probably miss it - unless you take the time to go directly to that friend's profile - something that Google's poorly designed user interface makes tedious.

This reduces "keeping up with friends" to a probability function - if you are lucky, you will see them but only if they post fairly frequently.   Now, there is some evidence that people are posting less - at least I sure notice that from my friends.   That means with fewer posts you will be seeing more posts from the same people, the stream will become less interesting (already happening - the difficulty of reading a card based system  - another use fail)    

So is this a "death spiral" - it is certainly starting to look that way.   It is important to note though, that the system can fail for almost everyone and still not fail for Google.  As much attention as is given to Google "shutting things down" I don't think they will shut down Google+.    It could happen,  A close look at the architecture show that it may even have been designed to account for possible failure - the lack of integration between Google Contact Groups and Google Circles, but things are still pretty integrated and it would be messy.  

More likely we will see what we are seeing now - zombie profiles and ghost communities - and notification messages that go forever unanswered.   I no longer know what it is like to be a new user on Google+ but I would recommend it to no one knowing what I know now - I assume they make some kind of similar "suggested users list" of people they say you should follow.   These aren't your real friends - they aren't even potential new friends.

The fact is, for the use case of "keeping up with friends and associates" Google+ has failed.   The good news is, that smart people know this, and systems are coming on the market that address this exact issue.   More on that later.