Monday, July 4, 2011

Why I'm not Giddy Over Google+

If you're a geek, you already know what Google+ is. If you're not, this seems like a decent primer (I admit I just Googled it and picked the first link, so apologies if that's actually a flawed or otherwise not great explanation. After all, it's July 4th.) Basically, it's supposed to be Google's version of Facebook, but better because of privacy stuff and the ability to segment friends into "circles," rather than one mass "friend" list like Facebook. Except you can already do that in Facebook via lists, but I digress.

I would have thought I'd have been more excited about Google+, since if you read this blog you know I'm no Facebook lover. Actually, that's putting it mildly, I'm mostly a Facebook hater. However, I have to say that after spending a very limited amount of time in Google+, I'm not only not wowed, but find myself almost in Facebook's corner, if you can believe that. I know I can't, but it's true.

The biggest thing Google and others seem to be hawking about Google+ is how it's all about privacy, where Facebook obviously isn't. Again, if you know me or read this blog you know my #1 beef with Facebook is the way it exploits people's privacy--the quizzes and games that users think are merely quizzes or games but are, in reality, just ways to capture user information; the repeated "oops" moments where Facebook claims they "accidentally" opted all users into some new privacy exploit; the way they sell user information.

But I don't know how Google can suddenly claim to be all about user privacy--I mean, any Gmail user can attest to the way the ads are magically synced to the content of supposedly private email messages. Then of course there's the FTC investigation of Google that's currently underway. It's also not like Google didn't totally mess up the privacy thing when they briefly launched Buzz last year. So why we're suddenly supposed to cheer about great Google is about privacy is beyond me.

Then there's the weirdly elitist way Google has rolled out Google+, making it available only to....well, who knows how they really did it. All I know is that it can't be an accident that Google+ has so far only seemingly been open to tech "influencers," who are falling all over themselves talking about how great it is. I'm no tech influencer, but all I have to say is that so far I am totally underwhelmed by Google+, which seems to be nothing other than a less-fully featured and poorer UI'd version of Facebook. And Facebook's UI is terrible, so that's not saying a lot. For all I know I'll end up loving Google+ and eating these words, but for now, it just seems like kind of a time sink to me.

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