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Why I'm Rooting For Google+ (avc.com)
188 points by razin on July 2, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 118 comments

I don't get it. Isn't anyone else as creeped-out by the idea of a Google social network as I am?

I'm definitely not thrilled at the idea of Facebook being the One True Social Network, but the idea of a Google social network makes me sad, and more than a little nervous. The fact that Google is trying to exploit their search dominance to funnel people into a Facebook competitor screams "anti-trust violation" to me, and the information-control consequences make me a little woozy -- I'd rather that Facebook dominate the space completely than give Google any more of my personal information. Google+ may not be evil, but it isn't exactly lily-pure, either.

I'm hoping that this is another classic case of Nerd Blindness (much like Rob Malda's famous proclamation that the original iPod was 'lame'): Google has an exceptionally good technical reputation, so techies are foaming at the mouth to get access to their newest plaything, while everyone else just sees this as an attempt by a gigantic company to destroy a good service that it sees as a threat.

Cheering for Google to win in the social network space seems to be to be a bit like hoping that IBM will take down Microsoft. When giants fight, I can't summon up any other feeling than fear that the rest of us are going to get squashed.

Google, while not perfect, has been more consumer friendly in handing privacy issues than Facebook has. They allow adblocking in Chrome, they allow you to export your data from their properties, they allow you to delete your account, etc. Also Google's walled garden is more permeable than Facebook's.

So while data collection is creepy and monopolies are harmful, I trust Google more than I trust Facebook.

It will be interesting to see whether Google googleizes social networking (changing the entire genre to be more privacy respectful) or whether social networking facebookizes Google (changing Google to be less privacy respectful, just like Facebook).

Note that I don't believe Google is actually very much better than Facebook in privacy terms. Google keeps everything you do, forever; while Facebook tends to share everything you do, right now. Google does less immediate privacy damage but perhaps more in the long term? What happens when Google gets hacked and it's not just your username and password released, it's everything you've ever searched for and every website you ever visited that had a Doubleclick ad on it? Privacy tsunami, that's what.

The point everyone keeps missing about facebook is that they were trying something new in the social space. They did commit mistakes and have accepted it. They also allow you now to download all your data. I believe that if facebook merges friend lists and groups, they have will have a strong product against google.

If you're that worried, you can delete your web history and permanently opt-out of Google Analytics using Google's supplied opt-out extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

They allow you to do things like that (not to mention data liberation efforts), which is the point the parent was making.

Facebook allows you to export your data, and to delete your account.

Export your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=18844

Delete your account: https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=185698814812082

Thanks. I don't understand how people constantly forget this. What was once true is not necessarily true today.

I don't understand how these things keep coming up. You can delete your account on Facebook. This is fact. You can export your data from Facebook. That is fact. What was once true is not necessarily true today.

Google operates with 30x more engineers than Facebook does. Their bandwidth is exceedingly larger, and this is why features secondary to the user-experience, like data-portability, have historically been lower prioritized at Facebook.

After being frustrated for a long time by such issues, I think people are reluctant to immediately forgive and forget. After all, these issues are part of a larger pattern:


The Instant Personalization issue was the straw that finally broke the back for me. Without my permission, my Facebook info was suddenly being used to personalize non-Facebook websites[1], and in order to fully opt-out of that you had to visit each application and block it[2].

[1] http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Facebook-Privacy-Concerns-...

[2] http://librarianbyday.net/2010/04/22/protect-your-privacy-op...

I don't know what Facebook did (if anything) to address these issues, and frankly, I don't care. I was tired of having to keep track of the parade of new privacy concerns about Facebook. It seemed every few weeks they added a new feature that required me to once again adjust my settings to opt-out of it. Once they even reset some of the security settings I had previously made, making them more permissive.

So, it is not surprising to me at all how these things "keep coming up".

From what I've seen of the Facebook data export, which was a little while ago now it's pretty much just a token effort to get people off their backs. If they really cared about this aspect, and they don't because max lock in is their goal, they would either provide proper formats that other services can plug into like csv, json or xml or provide an api which users could authorize 3rd parties to access their data to export.

Also can you truly delete your Facebook account? As I understand the process if you log back in it is restored meaning that they don't remove the data?

I agree. I think overall Google behaves more like a grown-up than Facebook does.

I agree. In addition, who else could feasibly compete with Facebook? At least now there's an alternative perspective on how a social network could function. I find that refreshing.

Have you observed what is happening to the mobile space?

Apple & Google are competing and they are trying to outdo each other. What resulted is more advanced phones and cheaper prices. Consumers win.

Can you imagine if nobody challenges Facebook? Did you know that what Facebook released recently (better Photos, messages, etc) is a preemptive response to Google+?

We have seen time and time again that monopolies are bad. Internet Explorer did not innovate for some time when it was in 80+ of computers. Microsoft started paying attention to IE again when Firefox and Chrome came out.

Do you really think Facebook would stop innovating if it weren't for the threat of Google behind its back? Perhaps the timing is influenced by G+, but the actual introduction of those products are just evolutionary steps in Facebook's mission to make the world more connected.

It hires so many people (including hundreds of interns) because it wants to build a platform and a tool for people to use to keep in touch with each other. I don't think Facebook is playing from the same opening book as Microsoft.

IE is a different story because it is not a core product of Microsoft. Facebook is the core of Facebook (obviously), so it cannot just let the product atrophy like MS let IE.

I never said Facebook would stop innovating but it wouldn't be as fast. Facebook is stepping up it's game.

Same can be said with Apple. IPhone would keep improving with or without Android. But I feel like Apple is being more agressive about it with Android around.

Besides, how would Apple know how to make a notification system without Android?

What has Facebook done that can be described as 'innovative' since the wall? Their only 2 decent products since then have been Connect and Like, neither of which were innovative (though they were good enough implementations to reach ubiquity). And they've released many products that are just down-right poor; Places is me-too and no one uses it, Messaging is just a mess, Groups is buried and unuseable... Facebook is riding off the network effect. It makes me wonder what exactly is going on there, as they have some of the best engineers in the world; why are they not putting out stellar product after stellar product? They've taken care of scaling already; what are these geniuses doing?

Weren't Facebook engineers behind the Cassandra project and HipHop?

Oh, and they have a list of projects their devs contribute to here: https://developers.facebook.com/opensource/

Even though their open source contributions are nice, they are still just an implementation detail that can't really be counted as product innovation.

I think you are confusing the wall with the news feed. The original wall was a single wiki on your profile (ca 2004?), later replaced with public messages on your profile. The news feed is the updates you see when you login.

Photos. With good tagging. And now facial recognition.

When were these things implemented?

Facebook might not stop innovating, but the pace of innovation will be slower. Competition fosters innovation. This is really simple business.

> I'd rather that Facebook dominate the space completely than give Google any more of my personal information.

I feel differently, but see quite a few (mostly non-technical) people agreeing with you - at least, here in Europe. Google already owns most of the data you've given facebook, and treats it a lot better than fb imho (e.g. allowing export/deletion). I don't see why giving Google access to a bit more of your personal data will somehow decrease your quality of life.

The reason people are foaming at the mouth, as you call it, isn't the exceptionally good technical execution, but rather how Google handles consumers (giving them more rights over their data) and developers (they're the underdog, they have to). This is another reason I like Google entering social - Facebook has been behaving rather arrogantly, and it does seem like they really own the social web [1]. But with Google acting as a threat, perhaps Facebook will be forced to soften up on some of its policies. Competition is a good thing, and I really doubt it will result in the rest of us getting squashed - In fact, I really believe we'll profit from those giants having to compete. For other reasons why G+ is anticipated highly, try http://www.pcworld.com/article/234825/9_reasons_to_switch_fr...

Lastly, IANAL, but I doubt promoting one of your products on one of your products is in any way illegal. The Google homepage has been showing us links to Docs, Reader, Gmail etc. for a long time without anyone getting upset about it.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/13/its-a-facebook-world-other-...

I totally agree. Google has pretty much all my private and professionell emails already so there is little left they could find out about me through Google+ that I'm worried about. Giving much of the same data to fb as well on the other hand doubles my risk (or even worse since I have less trust in fb).

Besides competition can only be a good think. Just imagine the mobile space without Android...

> Google has pretty much all my private and professionell emails already so there is little left they could find out about me through Google+ that I'm worried about.

That's the point: why is Google interested in the social graph? They already have GMail, they can scrape twitter… what do they need G+ for?

To me, the conclusion is that they do this to crush FB, which they might perceive as a threat. Or, the other idea is that they might just want to extend their brand to encompass more of the consumer market. More adspace, and the likes…

I think google is well aware of their roots. They entered a market where there was already market saturation and everyone thought they were going to be crushed "who needs another search engine". Everyone got complacent and as a result google managed to grow and make a better product. Eventually they move into other areas which then allowed them to dominate the web.

Coming from those roots you know full well that its better to crush/compete or acquire companies that can do to you what you did to others many years ago, its safer then thinking your to big for anyone to catchup and become complacent (and far cheaper if you nip it in the bud).

If i was the CEO at google i could name a few companies that would make it hard for me to sleep at night and facebook is high on that list. Look at the trend, buzz - (because they couldn't acquire twitter), originally orkut ( friendster fell through and to atleast have some form of social networking product), google offers (either cause groupon's model wasnt to their liking or groupon reject the offer. Irrespective of this groupon still perceived as a threat) along with countless other startups that made cool things that could have potentially competed with googles flagship products.

I think its simply cause google knows the web game well, they know that any of these startups (and other hot web properties) can bring them down if they are not careful and its better to acquire or if not keep building competing products so they still stay the dominate power.

Now trying to compete with a product such as google+ that could in time be comparable to the currently dominating player is I guess just good for future business :)

>Lastly, IANAL, but I doubt promoting one of your products on one of your products is in any way illegal.

Wasn't that the whole issue with the Microsoft anti-trust suit - that Microsoft bundled ("promoted") IE with its other product (Windows)?


Yes, that's exactly right. This kind of bundling isn't illegal until you're using a monopoly in one market to crush competitors in another market.

Microsoft used its desktop OS monopoly to ensure that IE was far and away the most dominant browser on the internet. It's a great example of how these sorts of otherwise-legal tactics, when taken to the extreme, can lead to situations that are bad for consumers -- which is why the anti-trust laws exist.

Sorry for not specifying that, thanks for the correction. The exception to promoting being legal of course is, when the product in question has a monopoly on the market. However, I doubt that's the case with Google Search. Again, IANAL, but a) the barriers to enter the industry are pretty small, b) there are plenty of alternatives, c) you can switch to them extremely easy, and d) Google would go out of business if they tried raising prices (i.e., they don't control the market).

Also, my point still stands - Google has been promoting other products on their homepage for a long time without getting sued. I don't understand how Plus would be different from, say, Reader.

Yes, it's depressing to see that the battle in social networking is over exclusive ownership of user data instead of establishing standards and protocols. It should be possible for users of the big players like Facebook and Google+ to include each other in their social networks, along with more independent or paranoid users who have established their own hubs.

You could argue that the Internet has always supported social networks with email, World Wide Web, FTP, etc. But social networking sites add another layer that ties everything together in a way that's accessible to the layman. In that sense, social networking sites are really in the business of authentication and authorization. Unfortunately, they're doing a lousy job of it, with their walled gardens.

Any social network today is going to need critical mass to survive. Critical mass brings to tons and tons of user information. Is the combination of search and social so much worse? Google is trying to get into social the only way it knows how, by combining it to search and putting it on all their properties. Is this really evil or the only way to compete?

I would actually prefer if more companies got into both search and social. It would be great if Facebook would build a "social search" function as well. I think this is more realistic than wishing that companies would stick to one thing only.

Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft - they all want it all. More competition would mean a better experience for all, including better privacy, and perhaps something more federated. These guys are all attacking the same problems in different ways, but in the end, it's all the same thing.

Competition is good. Facebook hasn't shown to be a proponent of users rights, made convenient because of their dominant market position. If they had a serious competitor, their attitude of forced acceptance of new features would likely change.

Competition is great, but I don't think Google gets especially high points for "forced acceptance of new features", either. After all, they're pushing google+ by putting it on every other property they own.

What company besides Microsoft (out of fear/legal obligations) doesn't do that? It is nice and all to say everyone should start on a level playing field, what is wrong with a company advertising to their well earned and legally obtained users?

You don't make sense. You admit it, they own it. Why can't they put it in a property they own?

You know you can choose not use Google services right?

You've missed the point. Of course Google can do whatever they want. But if you're one of the people thinking that Google is going to be better than Facebook as far as forcing their users to accept change, well, I've got a bridge to sell you.

It's a toolbar at the top of GMail, Calendar, Docs. It's as subtle at it can get. You call that forcing?

Every change they make you're forced to use. And that's pretty much the nature of web applications, until someone starts seriously focusing on discretely versioned web apps.

Google forced me to stop using Notebook, by taking it away. They seemingly forced previews on my search results, so that when I hover there's a bunch of big graphics that now pop up. Possibly I can opt out of it, but why do that? People bitch up a storm about "opt out" email newsletters, but "opt out" Google UI changes (assuming you can opt out) are met with near universal cheer and slavish devotion.

I deal with it because pretty much all other players are the same - Google's really no better or worse than anyone else, as far as I can see.

Google Notebook (google.com/notebook) is still available, they just stopped working on it. I wouldn't consider it an act of "force" to stop developing a product. And regardless, they're not obligated to even continue offering it.

Regarding search previews, I can agree that the option to turn them off would be appreciated. However, I think it's still a stretch to say that you're "forced" to view them; hovering alone does not trigger them, only clicking within search results.

Personally, I had hardly noticed that search previews were still enabled, though I've never had a use for them. They do seem more useful on reappraisal than I had originally remembered, however.

That's exactly what Facebook, Apple and every other company does. Facebook "check-ins?" and deals, iTunes Ping?

Personally I'm glad Google has finally stopped acting like every feature they have is a unique product. It's pretty obnoxious to go back and forth between their various services.

maybe i am being naive but i would much prefer a google social network to a facebook social network. i trust google far more than i do facebook. i can't quite explain why, but facebook has always felt like an unwashed pair of jeans to me. They're comfortable, and they look cool, but you know in the back of your mind that they're dirty and need a wash. google, on the other hand, is like a freshly pressed pair of chinos. not exactly hip, but chances are they don't smell.

...i don't know where this clothing analogy came from. probably because it's Saturday and i was just doing laundry.

I completely agree with you.

Google already rules in search, phones, and now our social life. With Chromebooks they will get a bigger chunk of it.

They have ten times more potential for evil than Microsoft ever dreamed of having in the nineties, and they're mainly an advertising company, instead of a business-software supplier like MS or IBM.

Just to compare, Apple might be 'evil' and has a lot of indirect influence in the market, but an end user can perfectly avoid using ALL of its products with absolutely zero strength. Same with Microsoft today (except for MSN and Skype, or Windows if you're a gamer). Facebook and Twitter are the same, completely disposable (unless you're doing 'social marketing').

But to stop using Google, you need to jump trough hoops. It became like a drug dealer that's bringing new stuff day by day.

I used to root for Google, but these days I only hope for it to get smaller so don't get squashed. =/

Disclaimer: YES, competition is good, and Facebook NEEDS competition to improve, but I don't like the fact that Google is trying to 'rule', instead of pushing for open protocols (like OStatus), federation (like XMPP and e-mail) and such. I'd say that Google+ killed the possibility of having something like Diaspora (which was already dead, but there was still hope in the air), unless they go back and make Google+ federated.

But to stop using Google, you need to jump trough hoops.

How so? You have alternatives to all of their products. About the only way you're compelled to interact with them is if you want to send E-mail to someone with a Gmail account, or if someone insists on you viewing some Google doc.

It became like a drug dealer that's bringing new stuff day by day.

And this is different from Apple how?

Quoting myself: "an end user can perfectly avoid using ALL of its [Apple] products with absolutely zero strength"

Maybe it is just me, but in a scale of 1 to 10, how hard it is to voluntarily stop buying/using products from Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook?

> They [Google] have ten times more potential for evil than Microsoft ever dreamed of having in the nineties.

I disagree - Can you clarify why you think so? You see, Google is probably the most vulnerable of the tech giants: If users stop visiting their sites for <i>whatever</i> reason, they'll die. It's really easy to switch to an alternative if you don't like what Google does, and Google even promotes this ease because they think people will be more willing to try out their services (think about the DLF team).

Microsoft, Apple or Facebook on the other hand, have already sold their product, and now the consumer depends on <i>them</i>. MS, Apple and fb sell products that tie people into their services once they buy into them. After that, they don't have to care what Joe thinks about their business practices anymore, and can therefore act almost any way they want.

I get the impression that the folks at Google actually take their unofficial motto "Don't be evil" seriously, but even if I'm mistaken I don't have to be scared - Google would quickly be out of business if they piss consumers off. And they know it.

"It's really easy to switch to an alternative if you don't like what Google does, and Google even promotes this ease because they think people will be more willing to try out their services".

From a search standpoint, there aren't many viable search players that can deliver good quality results. That's the fault of the competition 10 years ago not paying enough attention, but the moat is so great that it's going to be a gargantuan task for anyone to truly "take on" Google at any meaningful level for a long time to come.

From a "I browse the web" standpoint, the average person will be encountering googleness all over the place in the form of ads and analytics. It's not easy for the average person to opt out of being tracked by the Google machine (yes, possible, but not easy for most people). So, most people are part of the Google universe in one sense or another. Even if many people stopped going to Google's search properties, their grip on display advertising is enormous, and that area of business alone could keep them going for years to come without any serious competitor in sight.

"Google would quickly be out of business if they piss consumers off."

MS fanboys said the same thing about MS 10-15 years ago. It hasn't happened. MS seriously pissed off a lot of people (antitrust suit, etc) but they're still in business. Just like MS, Google could make serious strategic blunders multiple times for years, and they won't suffer any serious long term damage. They're too entrenched with no viable competitor, and who's going to try to 'take on' google? Where would you start? Mail? Search? Maps? Documents? News? Blogger?

"If they piss consumers off"

How would we know if they did something we disagreed with? Considering for most people, Google is their internet front door, finding info on Google's bad behaviour could quickly become a very difficult task (delete a few key records from the search index, and who will know?) How do we know they're so "honest" with our personal data? "Better than facebook" is a pretty lame answer, and I'm not sure one could set the bar much lower with a straight face.

TLDR: Even if you're not using Google, Google's using you.

"They're too entrenched with no viable competitor, and who's going to try to 'take on' google? Where would you start?"

I disagree. All their products have serious competitors people can switch to anytime: Search - Bing; Mail - Yahoo; Docs - Office; Blogger - Wordpress; Android - WP7; Chrome - FF; the list goes on and on. Google is facing heavy competition on all fronts, and only time will tell if they can step up to their game. (See http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/03/google-six-front-war/ for further information). But I like Google's attitude of creating lots and lots of new products, without being concerned about who they compete with, as they really seem to shake up the industry for the better wherever they enter.

Lastly, your last paragraph about "How would we know if they did something we disagreed with?" sounds pretty paranoid to me. If Google screws up we're going to find out very quickly). Google doesn't control the internet. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, traditional news etc. will make sure we'll find out about it, even if Google starts censoring their search results (which, admirably, they've completely refused to do in the past).

Oh, I agree with you. Google will pose no problems to other big players or end users. But the bigger they are, the worse it is for everyone.

Mr. Timr, the poster above me, put it much better than I ever could, so I'll just quote him:

"When giants fight, I can't summon up any other feeling than fear that the rest of us are going to get squashed."

I'd be more creeped-out if Facebook dominated the space completely.

Facebook has had my whole social graph for years and can't even get it together to show me one single advert I care about. It's just not that useful a set of info.

Google+ is getting more of a public social graph. I'll watch investors and traders, startup-types, media, local digeratii. What evil do you think it's going to do with that? It's a message board with some semi-private messages and maybe a spark or two. If it hasn't figured out my 'likes' by now then certainly an extra spark isn't going to flip the switch. Many of the messages are public anyway, like Twitter. Much of the social graph is public - you can see who I follow and who follows me, like Twitter. Google could already max out the evil with the Twitter social graph if it wanted to.

Google has my credit card number, my email (all of it), my location, my _email_ social graph, and my multi-year search history. What it already has dwarfs a few extra messages. Adding a bit of public social graph just isn't going to turn it into Skynet.

Edit: my friends and family will largely stay on Facebook. It's a nice safe place and I've set it up to be pretty secure. G+, well, that'll be my personal Twitter equivalent with hopefully a bit more bandwidth. I like the threads. Twitter I'll keep for my company's persona.

The trouble is that most of the other services can be improved by access to the social graph. And since Facebook isn't likely to share the social graph with Google, Google have to build their own. The driving force for the change was a company wide belief that Facebook would eventually make Google, by offering competing services that was superior because they had access to the social graph.

Source: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/06/inside-google-plus-so...

That is also why Google+ is everywhere (and why it was named Google+). It is Google plus the added value you can get from social graph. The +You part of the service itself is not the main point, even though it of course provides some potential ad space.

Yes, there are potential anti-trust issues. They can be seen as somewhat analogous to Microsoft bundling IE with Windows. That gave Microsoft a lot of trouble at the time, but today few would question that a consumer OS should include a web browser. Bill Gates saw where personal computing were headed, and reacted rationally.

Maybe search (and friends) can stay competitive without access to the social graph. I don't know. But Google don't believe so.

We are however making economic decisions on what sort of people we let control our information and the future of our great human enterprise of the Internet.

Facebook consistently disregards user privacy issues and doesn't work in a fashion many people believe to be ethical in any sense. Google, if by a superior PR strategy or their true drive to expand and 'Use Technology for Good' appeals to many people in the tech space and outside. Although Google is certainly a corporate giant, they are a giant we can trust is run by "People Like Us"(TM), and if for the good or the bad, I tend to trust Engineers and Scientists (Notice my bias in associating Google with Engineers and Scientists) a lot more than Businessmen and Politicians (And likewise for associating Facebook with the latter). Although I think the ideal Social Network would be run by some sort of neutral party, I recognize that the money is simply too great for that to be a realistic expectation - So in the interim I'm happy to have an alternative from Google, even if the implications for information dominance are daunting - I'm putting all my faith in their resolution.

I completely disagree. I probably trust Google more than any other company. I bought a cheap phone on CL and put Android on it, which Google (and the wonderful folks at Cyanogen) have made available for free. I keep loads of my data on Google servers for free, and importing and exporting it is easy. If it wasn't for Google I'd be paying for email, using slow and/or expensive desktop calendar, email and document clients, have no control over the software on my own phone, and be printing out line-by-line MapQuest directions any time I wanted to drive somewhere new.

I got a Gmail account in 2004 and since then have moved more and more of my life into Google's system. In those 7 years I've never been disappointed. I don't really have anything against Facebook, but if Facebook can do it, Google can probably do it better while also giving me more control and transparency. That's what they've done with everything else they've touched.

More creeped out than Facebook? No, definitely not. The kind of data Facebook sells to advertisers is MUCH more private than the kind of data Google sells to advertisers.

Google doesn't sell any data to other companies, only fb does.

Facebook sells absolutely zero user data to advertisers, full stop. It allows advertisers to target users by profile fields; if you think this somehow equates to selling user data, then Google's AdSense product, with the exact same feature set, must also equate to doing so.

How does Google target ads at you without a social network? By sticking a pixel on half the web and watching where you surf, and running Bayes' rule on the results to determine that you're 25-30, male, live in California, are interested in punk rock, etc.

To cut to the chase, let's make this interesting: I'll give you $10k, US. Go "buy user data" from Facebook. For example: I'll put a friends-only privacy field on my profile. If you can tell me the contents of that field in a week, I'll give you another $10k. If you can't, please return $20k to me, and stop repeating this absurd meme.

Can't tell you yours, but I can tell you about 200 million others: https://graph.facebook.com/search?q=bob

Yes, the information that is public is public. And searchable. Just like the rest of the Internet.

What doesn't happen, is Facebook "selling data": taking money in exchange for ("selling") information you wouldn't otherwise have. It doesn't happen, and never has.

I like the way Moxie Marlinspike put it on Twitter:


  'The "circle" I want is the one that doesn't have Google in it.'

Having a good product is not an anti-trust violation. People are free to leave Google Plus at any time. It can be turned on and off. You can take your data in and out. You can go to Bing whenever you like.

People can switch to bing, but that doesn't mean advertisers can (unless they are trying for an obviously suboptimal choice). Only Google search has ad volume and broad scope sufficient for most of those spending the bulk of search advertising $.

Advertisers are google's real customers.

For me at least, (an evil) Google could reconstruct most of my facebook information from the email alerts facebook has sent to my gmail account. This doesn't change your point, though.

But it would definitely lose the PR battle...

What I hope is that it pushes competitors to implement private-by-default, easy and quick to sort groups and we'll have it everywhere instead of just google+.

the future no matter what is all companies are going to exploit your personal data to monetize. Even companies like Apple, whose core business is not ads (Iads). Its just a future we all have to accept.

which social network do you use, that you feel comfortable with ?

I don't get it. Isn't anyone else as creeped-out by the idea of a Google social network as I am?

For the most part, only social networking techies are praising this thing. The last thing I want to do is give Google even more of my information, my friend's information, and so on.

Off topic, but the OP links to a post called "Be your own bitch" that contains the following paragraph that makes me happy:

"The thing that I have come to appreciate most about founders is a deep obsession about one thing over a long period of time. When we first met Joshua Schachter he had launched three versions of what were sort of social bookmarking, that he had then shut down before he launched Delicious. Dennis Crowley has been working on what has become Four Square since vindigo, which was a flat iron portfolio company that we invested in over 10 years ago. Jack Dorsey you know, came up with the original version of twitter back in the late 90's and he had been obsessed about that idea for almost a decade before he built it inside ODEO. And I can go on and on and on, but that sort of maniacal obsession about a specific issue and a specific domain and a specific kind of service, is the thing that to me is the most compelling trait of an entrepreneur."


i have come to realize that his domain expertise/obsession is the key to finding the right founding teams to back

What is a flat iron portfolio company such that it is similar enough to Foursquare to support the obsession thesis?

Flatiron Partners was a legendary NY-basd VC fund during the first dotcom era[1]. Most remember them for the Kozmo.com investment

Fred wrote a post about moving from Flatiron to USV[2]

[1] http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/companies/company-profil...

[2] http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2005/02/flatiron_partne.html

Flat-Iron Partners or some such was a venture-capital fund Fred was involved in.

Although I'm no fan of walled gardens, I have much greater faith in Google adopting an open, federated protocol, given their track record, than I ever had with Facebook. And if they did, that would push Facebook to adopt it as well.

It's a competitive tactic to be open when you're small and less open when you're big. For example, you can download your entire profile as a .zip file from Facebook (not sure if you can get the email), and you can allow any apps to access your data (again, probably not email), even though Facebook is the largest social network on the web.

In comparison, Google doesn't let you download your entire search history and everything else that they collect about you--what sort of ads you like, keywords that have worked well for you, links you've clicked on. To me, my "search history" is my profile on Google while my wall/profile is my data on Facebook.

You're wrong. You can export your search history as an RSS feed (well I can't, as I have web history turned off). Not sure how that would be useful though... And to be fair, Facebook doesn't let you download your entire search history and everything else that they collect about you either. They only let you download what you put in. Google does the same, you can download your Gmail contacts (or sync them to another service), Picasa photos, Reader subscriptions, etc.

Facebook certainly doesn't allow you to download all the logs about you that they collect. The amount of logs they collect about you are huge, and those are the true valuable data (rather than the pictures you've uploaded).

"For example, you can download your entire profile as a .zip file from Facebook"

Do you get all of your connections (by what identifiers?), all the messages you've sent, and everything else?

I don't know. I haven't touched that feature in a while. But there's a philosophy that you own your content, but connections are owned by both ends. I'm not even sure that being able to export your wall (including others' private comments) is fair to others. Otherwise, you end up with Google's public-sharing bug (where you can share a private item publicly).

There's a fine balance between respecting your privacy and flexibility, and those of your friends.

"Otherwise, you end up with Google's public-sharing bug (where you can share a private item publicly)."

If you share something digital with someone, they can share it with someone else. That's just the way it is.

Interfaces and clients should help you avoid doing that accidentally, and even make it slightly challenging (perhaps you need to write a new client against their API or something) -- but preventing you from exporting your own data, or data that someone has explicitly shared with you, is just not justified. It sounds a lot more like a convenient excuse for lock-in.

This argument is too weak to sell. In the same realm, you should remove from the zip file photos that contains the user's friend(s).

Fwiw, in your Google Plus settings menu, one of the top level items is "Data Liberation", where you can download all your data, including your conversation streams, in zip and/or json. Nice to see that in there from the start.

As it happens I just tried it an hour ago. Contains your posts but not your comments or +1s. It looks like there's currently no place I can go to see all my comments or +1s. The +1 tab only shows external +1s from google search.

Also, images attached to posts are not with the stream but with your Picasa pictures, which is weird.

That's great, and a huge step above the dump that Facebook emails you, but that's not quite the same as federation.

I really like the idea that there won't be "one social service to rule them all": I know that Facebook and Twitter serve different purposes for me, and I'm also occasionally active on niche social services like LinkedIn and Goodreads. But I'm concerned that the pain of managing multiple friends lists will force one or two "winners" which try to be all things to all people: it's much easier to hook into Facebook's existing social graph than build a new one, but I honestly don't want Facebook to contain all my life.

Google+ seems to be trying the "all things to all people" approach as well, and I'm similarly skeptical of it at the moment. I'm still trying to feel out where it will fit in my own usage: if it finds a purpose other than just "Facebook replacement" I will probably use it, but otherwise it may be too difficult to escape the network effects.

For those already actively using GMail, Google Calendar and other Google services (including Search), the fact that the Plus Bar on top allows you to share links and keep notified across the web is a very big difference over Facebook. In that sense, already I see it having a better staying power than Facebook.

Also, anecdotally, I am rarely logged in to Facebook constantly because it serves me no useful "productive" purpose. I catch up with friends and family only when I'm done working. With Google+ it is going to be that much harder because I'm always logged in to check mails and organize my calendar.

No bar with the new UI's.

I'm sure it's just another oversight, like music.

I am not on Facebook but I think it is "good for the world" if Google+ becomes succesful. I agreed with the poster that likened Facebook to dirty jeans. I don't know where that analogy came from but it resonates with me. However, I am undecided if Google+ is something for me. What I fear (hopefully unfounded) is that Google suddenly introduces a "feature" where it shows your friends what you have searched for. I _think_ (not sure) that something similar to that occurred on Youtube, where suddenly friends could find my Youtube account and see what videos I had seen.

I'd think that's pretty unlikely. Since the Buzz fiasco, Google is legally bound by an agreement with the federal government to take privacy more seriously. See http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/03/ftc-settles-with-google...

If Facebook can grow to 750m users this quickly isn't it safe to say the infrastructure/adoption exists for another company to grow to that number even faster? Let's stop pretending it's the 80's and only one company can figure out how to rule a market (Microsoft).

Facebook, too, shall pass. We of the technology world should know this better than anyone.

"Well first, I don't think competitors kill companies and services. I think the vast majority of "deaths" are self inflicted."

I like this line, and it amplifies my feelings that in order for plus to be successful, it will require not only the polished product which is being introduced but also something that the other services lack.

My dad, for example, doesn't want any of those experiences. He might like Google+. It's a lot like email. He can curate groups of friends; his friends from school, his friends from the army, his friends from the community he lives in, and share information with them quickly and easily.

OK so I don't really get it. This is nothing that can't be done easily with any email service now, using mailing lists. Dad can have a mailing list of his school friends, army buddies, etc. Why put another layer on top of that? Using email doesn't require any of the participants to have register or create yet another profile with yet another service. I don't see this as a very compelling example.

My mother doesn't know what a mailing list and couldn't manage one to save her life, but she's quite active on Facebook. Email is the command line, social networks are Windows.

Nobody (within reason) knows how to create and manage a mailing list.

Circles solves a usability problem, not a technological problem.

The author meant compared to Twitter, Facebook and the like. He goes on explaining how Google+ has a better privacy control.

I sincerely don't think any company will successfully "become the platform" in perpetuity, They'll just make obscene amounts of money while their star is shining. But I do think good can come from this.

As Facebook, Google, Twitter, (the stillborn?) OpenID and others compete to be the "company that handles online identities," everyone else can just focus on what they do. They don't have to run massive databases of users, just allow a trusted third party login and let people at the good stuff.

Aside from that, I don't really care too much about it.

>everyone else can just focus on what they do. They don't have to run massive databases of users, just allow a trusted third party login and let people at the good stuff.

Not really; you still need a users database to store everything else related to the user. You only really save on the authentication related fields, which are a very small part of it.

Small insofar as data is concerned, but by far the most important. For instance you don't have to worry about hackers taking passwords from you any more. At worst they bust in and take a list of functional email addresses (assuming you email users) and site settings (which may our may not be valuable, depending on your site.)

Maybe I did a shit job of explaining my concern. Or maybe I'm further off base than I think?

I was replying to the "massive" part. But yes, you're right, and I wish more websites would do that.

Then a shit job in explaining my concern it is/was!

OpenID isn't the same as Facebook, Google and Twitter. It's a standard, not a company.

I honestly don't know about about it. I probably should've just not mentioned it, but, it seemed to serve the same function.

Social is too important for one company to control the market. This is a great start for Google+, but Google is fighting with one arm behind their back given the network effects of Facebook.

I was thinking at the Developers' part instead. What's the plan with Games and Apps? Is G+ going to offer the same conditions as for its Web store? (more likely)

That would be a huge game changer (FB has 30% cut) expecially for those biggies like Zynga. Could this be related to Zynga's "rush" for the IPO?

I don't see how this will "kill" other services. I hope that it might centralize and compartmentalize the idiosyncratic inanity in one place to clean up the noise on other platforms.

This article has the best summary of what the different social functions Facebook, Tmblr and Twiter provide.

So, to get down to business, it's reasonable to hope that google will provide an oAuth 1.0 api for your social stuff, as they do with other services. The question is: what communication channels shall G+ give to developers? Also, will google use opensocial (I really hope not)

We only have one social platform today worth building on, facebook. Let's hope this will change.

I think this could be huge. My experience with building on the FB platform has been so dramatically negative that I gave it up and really no longer trust them (I'll take a look at this new platform they're working on, of course) as a platform provider.

I think Google, with their track record of APIs and platforms like GAE, could really light a fire under them that'd be beneficial to everyone.

Unfortunately i rely on facebook for traffic. When i started, Dave Morin was in charge and things were looking good. Since then, we've only seen limitations constant changes, unenforced policies, things breaking etc etc. At this point it is indeed really in a bad shape, and a good reason may be that they don't feel any competition.

Yeah, the types of problems we had (I sort of wrote about it elsewhere[1]) were just totally inexplicable. I forget the precise specifics but one of them was something along the lines of things that would work one day but not the next, etc. Just really wild stuff that made me have no trust for the reliability of the platform.

Edit: The "best" part, if you follow that link, is that the project I mentioned that ended up cancelled would've had to be rewritten anyway now that FBML is on the way out.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2693190

I'm curious to see whether they'll base their API on OpenSocial. After all, it is a Google-based "standard" that's seen updates right through late 2010. It would certainly give them an instant base of apps right from the start, and an obvious transition from iGoogle to Google+. They could however unceremoniously cut it off and come up with something new to replace it.

I am no fan of opensocial and i hope they have a simpler, rest-based api

There is an OpenSocial REST API which works pretty well, it's just that some SNs don't offer it, or at least they didn't early on. I haven't done any Facebook App development for about 2 years so I can't comment on the status quo, but back then, the FB API was definitely not better than OpenSocial.

That's why Google+ is important. Even if it doesn't take off, at least it keeps the 'check and balance' on Facebook's power in the social space, well with they hype it is getting now. Competition is good!

Fred, doesn't get it yet..

FB is fully public everyone

G+ is user controlled sharing for both public and private..big difference

You have confused FB with Twitter...

I'm rooting for it for rather more personal and selfish reason:

1. I'm a shareholder in GOOG

2. All the Facebook employees I've ever met have been kinda annoying, so I don't want to see those individuals get rich.

Rooting for Google+ over Facebook is like rooting for MC Hammer over Michael Jackson.

Get outside and get a life.

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