I’ve had accounts on a lot of social networking sites. Heck, I still have accounts on Tribe.net, Orkut.com (a shout-out to my Brazilian friends!) and have even left my dead body behind in Second Life — somewhere on Information Island I think. Try not to trip over the corpse of Thomas Roy the next time you’re there. Oh — you don’t go there anymore either? No surprise.
So when Google+ (say “Google Plus”) was announced, I ran to go get it on it like the social networking whore I’ve become. Ooh! Ooh! A new toy! But now I’m beginning to have second thoughts.
First, since Google suspended the ability for me to invite my friends, I now have a seriously split community. Some are using Google+, some Facebook, and still others who likely are not gainfully employed such as myself — both. The ability to invite your friends has been gone for days and we don’t know when it will come back.
Second, I’d have to say Facebook — despite it’s real and infuriating annoyances — has generally done a pretty good job. For example, it is Facebook that is putting me back in touch with many of my river guide friends from the late 1970s. Even more importantly, Facebook is in the process of hooking me back up with people I haven’t seen in nearly 40 years. These would largely be old friends I thought I’d never see again, and now I’m looking forward to doing just that at a reunion later this month.
In the scheme of things, then, I’d have to say that Facebook has been doing a pretty good job of hooking me up with the folks I want to hook up with. Why is this? Clearly penetration is key — Facebook rules in terms of sheer numbers of users and that is essential if you want to find someone. Even with the vast audience Facebook has gathered I’m still missing some of my peeps.
Meanwhile, Google+ is still very much in its infancy in terms of gathering participants, and it hasn’t helped that it put the brakes on right out of the gate. In the end, I’ll go where I can find the people I want to hook up with, and so far that’s Facebook. Am I done messing around with Google+? No, it’s still early and who knows if it will eventually unseat Facebook as the place to be. But am I relying on it for anything in particular? Not so much. At least not yet. And in a nutshell that identifies Google’s challenge — to become an essential solution to a problem that most people no longer have.
Of course, a lot of us thought Alta Vista was a pretty good search engine.