Google Plus: A few more features would be a plus

As I finally got my hands on Google+ invites and started exploring the service it’s inevitable that it was found lacking. No, scratch that, it was found definitely wanting. It is well understood that Google+ is in a very early stages and, in words of some popular blog “they haven’t even put it in the oven yet, so don’t judge the cookie by the dough“.

So consider the following a “please do” list, rather than a list of complaints.
1. Where is my real-time integration with other services, Facebook and Twitter in particular? This is a big one and besides – Google is about “you and them”, while all others are about “them and you”. Had Google come to a bare land, it would be fine if no import/export functionality would exist. Now, I have people following me on Twitter, I have Facebook account and a separate page for my photography business. I also have a bunch of other account more or less social (Blogger, LiveJournal, Flickr – to name a few), so it’s hard to keep them all in sync. Had Google provided the facility to post to them all – I would visit my +Zealus more often than once a week.

2. Picking who to add could be better. I have a list of 500 people none of whom I know and the only reason why they show up is because they have Google+ account. If I want just anybody – I’ll go to Twitter, Circles is a great idea, now let me use it! Especially that Google+ has access to my address book.

3. Sane URL to my profile page. It’s not a big deal, but again – Google+ isn’t coming to a barren land, even Facebook has “vanity” URLs feature.

4. Put in the Wave functionality! Not into chat, but into the main thing! If anything can have the most bang out of Wave technology – it’s Google+, particularly in smaller circles. Example – distributed development team and management brainstorming their next move. Or client in Chicago working with PM in New York and team in Ukraine on a new web site. Possibilities are endless.

5. Let me change that damn color scheme. It’s depressing, boring and totally discouraging me from using Google Plus. I don’t say I want to go Myspace on it, but at least I want different colors.

6. I can haz Pages? I can’t possibly stuff all the things I do into my profile, it would not make any sense. So something similar to Facebook pages (only more sane) would definitely do some good. Now if these pages could have circles… If circles can have circles… Gets kind of scary.

Again, this is just a cursory overlook of all the things that should essentially be a part of GooglePlus, but aren’t. For a brand new social engine – they are must have. Let’s see how long it will take Google to implement the most important ones.


Not So Social Google – Why Google Is Not Competing With Facebook

No matter what tech bloggers are saying each time Google releases another feature – Google does not compete with Facebook. It’s pretty simple if you look at “meta” levels of each. Who’s the center of attention for each service. What is the first thing that comes up by default in each service. What tools and services do they provide.

Google – personalized search, your profile, your e-mail, your contacts, your calendar, your pictures. Sprinkled with a magic dust of “share” buttons.

Facebook – friends’ activity, shared photos, events, friend-a-palooza, groups (with actual people!), pages (which are another way to name simple forums).

Google is about “you” while Facebook is about “them”.

Google cannot compete with Facebook for obvious reasons that it lacks tools and methods to connect “you” with “them”. Because in Google’s ecosystem there is no “them”, there are millions and millions of “you”. They send each other e-mails, schedule appointments and occasionally share a picture or two, but it doesn’t create “them” out of millions of “you”s.

It doesn’t mean Google didn’t try. Trying they are – just look at the Buzz and their latest integration of Profiles. Buzz is the most cumbersome friend activity feed I’ve ever seen, even 10-year old LiveJournal still does it better. Just to give you one good reason – no matter how many people I follow on Buzz, you know who stays on top all the time? Matt Cutts, that’s who! Because of the sheer number of comments he gets he stays on top (his post is bumped up any time someone leaves a comment) and all my friends who are a lot more important to me (no offense, Matt) are lagging distant second. Would I use Buzz? No, not with this flavor of things.

Take another example – Blogger. Google bought the service back in 2003 and did their regular techno-dance around it until 2006. After that all the changes were primarily cosmetic – adding new templates, updated editor and so on. The most social place of all gets editor updates and Google Docs integration… unbelievable! Ever tried to leave a comment on this thing? LiveJournal is still using their WYSIWYG editor from the mainframe era and they are more social than Blogger!

Want more? Take a look at Picasa. Again, sharing photos is one hell of a social madness – look no further than Flickr. Yahoo is checking itself into elderly care, yet Flickr is kicking it as hard as they ever did. Now, when you look at Picasa – it’s not even a decent photo storage place, let alone a social interaction tool.

Again, Google is about “you” while Facebook is about “them”, there is no competition going on – unless you call a bunch of “share” buttons a competition to Facebook. The two ecosystems are going two separate roadways, it’s just when some people see trucks moving on another road they tend to think there’s a junction ahead. Nope, keep looking, there is no junction yet – not any time soon.

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Google Superbowl Commercial

Google’s Super Bowl Commercial is very cute. But why Paris? Why not Kiev, Hong Kong or London?