It’s been one week since I first jumped into the Google+ bandwagon and published my initial thoughts about it. My observations from that piece haven’t changed — basically Google+ is the Facebook sharing experience wrapped around a Twitter-like networking philosophy. In that sense, Google+ is a true “mash-up” — a Facebook-Twitter hybrid that seems to have achieved where a lot of do-it-all contraptions don’t do very well, which is do it all well. And because I use an Android smartphone, Google+ easily slipped into my mobile world’s ecosystem without much dramas.
One thing that Google+ so far does not have is the equivalent of Facebook’s “Pages” feature. This was originally the “fan” page before the concept of becoming a fan of a Page was dropped in favour of the more politically-correct term of “liking” said pages (and most other doo-dads brokered within the Facebook “platform”). The thing that differentiated Facebook Pages from a conventional user account (apart from Pages being able to accomodate more than 5,000 user connections) is that it is an opt-in artifact; that is, you cannot rope people into them (the way one can add people to Facebook Groups).
With Google+, every member is functionally a Facebook Page and an opt-in proposition for others. We don’t propose “friendships”. We “add” people into circles and hope others, in turn, will add us into theirs. To paraphrase what I wrote earlier, it’s Twitter networking on a Facebook-like platform (in both senses of that italicised phrase).
(1) In Facebook and, before it, Friendster and MySpace, two users are simply one another’s “friend”;
(2) In every relationship unit in Google+ (as it is in Twitter), one user is the followed and the other is the follower.
Links between network nodes in a Google+ network represent a one-way street (and not a two-way street such as in a conventional “friendship” in Facebook). There is an ordinate-to-subordinate relationship between network links in Google+. A network diagram describing a Facebook network will only require a simple line connecting each node in the network. In Google+ (and in Twitter), the connecting line is necessarily directional — an arrow — showing, say, the line originating from the follower node and terminating with an arrowhead pointing into the followed node.
Bottomline for me spells something quite ominous for Facebook and Twitter. Google+ combines both well. That emerging reality plus the ease with which such platforms can now be run on most mobile devices could render Facebook and Twitter redundant to the average user. It is likely to come down to one question:
Why should I maintain three separate accounts on three separate networks when one of these networks can do what the other two does?
And, yes, tech pundits, journalists, and so-called social media “mavens” have been milking the Google+ hype for several weeks now, so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.