Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who Will Google Kill This Time?

Disclaimer:
Back in June of 2009 I predicted, "Google Wave is Coming; It's Undertow will Claim at least One Victim."
My record on predictions has historically been pretty lousy.

***

I've been playing on Google's new social network, Google Plus (or Google+ or G+), for 4 days now.  Lots of people are talking about what it will replace.  And since we like violent imagery, the word 'killer' gets bandied about.

Twitter-Killer?

Certainly a lot of the same chat that goes on with Twitter I see at Google+.  Currently there isn't anything to compare with Twitter's hashtags. Without something of this nature, Twitter survives.  As someone who has been on Twitter for awhile, and uses it, one of the cool things about Twitter is the ability to use hashtags to find other people talking about the same topics.

Google+'s Sparks could be a replacement for hashtags, if they turned it inward, and allowed you to search for public posts.  Currently, however, Sparks is only focused outward, yielding Google search results for specific terms.

Of course, Google is the "King of Search" and Google+ is currently only in "Field-Test" mode.  Many have predicted that they will integrate search within the network and allow us to find posts by keyword.  At that point, I do wonder what distinguishes Twitter to allow it to coexist.  Especially since I feel a large percentage of Twitter users are the type of individual who are likely to sign up for Google+.

It's possible people will keep posting to Twitter, posting the same status updates to both places, as they post them to Facebook and Twitter now.  As soon as Google releases the G+ API, there will be apps to make this simple.  But I see myself already losing interest in Twitter, and the only thing keeping me there is the hashtags.

Tumblr-Killer?

For those unfamiliar with Tumblr, it is a blogging platform excelling at the sharing, and resharing, of media (images, video, and audio).  G+ definitely does this very well.

However, like Twitter, Tumblr thrives on hashtags.  So until Google+ integrates an internal search engine, it's safe.  However, once it does, I suspect use of Tumblr will drop as users realize their posts will get more views on Google+.

Facebook-Killer?

So far I have found only two things Facebook can do that Google+ can't.

1) Games.  [Many will see this as a plus in favor of Google]
2) Event managing

While many people use Facebook to schedule events, and invite their friends, you can't do that YET with Google+.  However, all signs indicate that Google intends to integrate Google+ with as many of its products as possible.  And Google Calendar is one of its products.  I don't know when it's coming, but I think it's a safe bet that they will release some sort of event management function.

However, regardless of whether Social Network A and B can do the same things, and regardless of which one does it better, a Social Network must contain one essential thing.  The People With Whom You Wish to Network.

The First Adopters of Google+ are highly extolling its virtues.  But if we can't convince our less techy friends, and family members to join us, we will need to maintain both a Facebook and a Google+ account.  At least we will if we feel the need to continue to 'network' with both groups.

I ask myself the crucial question: When will I delete my Facebook account?

After less than a week, still in Field-Test invite only stage, almost all the fellow Genealogists who I networked with on Facebook are on G+.  I have 95 'friends' on Facebook who are in my 'Genealogy' list.  I have 71 individuals in my Genealogy circle on Google+.

Along with:
  • A handful of close friends
  • No family (excepting my fiancee)
  • No fellow high school or college alums.
I need to hand out gold stars to the Genealogy community.  Especially when the stereotype doesn't fall within the 18-40 male geek demographic one expects to be "First Adopters" of new technology.  Of course, online genealogists are used to 'trying out' new database websites for their research.  Just because a large number of us are anxious to see what's going on, doesn't mean we'll all stay.

One member of the genealogy community has gotten a fair amount of press for his G+ activity.  Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com.  Using Ancestry's census statistics, and surname counts on G+, he estimated G+ would surpass 10,000,000 users today.  Google has neither confirmed nor denied his estimates.

I find myself asking other crucial questions:  
Why did I join Facebook originally? 
What purpose does a social network fill for me?

If my family wants to talk to me, they either pick up a phone, or send me an email.
If my close friends wish to talk to me, they either pick up a phone, or send me an email.

What Facebook has done for me is get me in touch with people I had lost track of from earlier periods in my life (school, former jobs, etc).

I see the following progression of events for me:
1) I will stop posting new status posts on Facebook.  I predict that happens now. I'm not including occasional posts to Facebook reminding people - hey, if you want to see what's going on with me, look at my public G+ posts, or join up, and I'll add you to my circles.
2) I will only use Facebook to read (and comment) on other posts.
3) I will delete everyone on Facebook that has a Google+ account, and is clearly using it.
4) I will monitor my usage of Facebook.

I predict, before the first snowfall this winter, I will delete my Facebook account.

However, I foresee Google+ and Facebook coexisting.  There will be more then enough people who prefer each network. Some people will feel the need to be on both.  Others will make their choices.

3 comments:

Jasia said...

Nice article, John. I must say I see my own progression of events to be exactly the same as yours. If only all my friends would join me on G+ I could leave FB today. :-)

Carol said...

VERY interesting. At this point I do NOT see my Non-genie friends making the move to G+ from FB. As my FB friends that are not genie freaks are just as important to me, I figure I am gonna have 2 platforms.

Tomorrow that may change - - gonna be fun to watch.

moultriecreek said...

I have to say I'm a total Twitter fan girl. If I have to choose between any of the socnets, I choose Twitter. It has almost totally replaced Google Reader for keeping up with news/blogs and, thanks to lists, hastags and apps like Flipboard, I can still have an enjoyable reading experience and process a lot of content efficiently.

As to FB and G+, I'm getting more ambivalent every day. Could be the heat, but I'm just not feeling the love. I've haven't had time to take a look at G+ so I'll wait and read what you all think before I get too involved.