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Google's Lost Social Network
December 7, 2012 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Google+ has been derided as a “virtual ghost town” and a “complete failure” unpopular even with Google employees. All of which has heightened the resentment shared by Reader fanatics. Today, they are a population dispossessed. Many have disappeared off the grid, while others struggle to rebuild communities that were, with a few keystrokes, deleted. All of them — the dental student in San Antonio, the academic librarian in Boston, the game developer in San Francisco — yearn for the scroll-tracked Shangri-La that was. They wonder why Google deep-sixed superlative features, years in the making, for an upstart social network, a Facebook clone. In the year past, the same question has been framed and phrased in a thousand different ways — why force an unproven social network on users at the expense of an organic one? [SLBF]
posted by chavenet (115 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you use open standards, protocols and software, and don't rely on centralized services, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Sent from my iPad
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [30 favorites]


Because Google doesn't understand people.
posted by zippy at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Simple. They couldn't sell adwords linked to user's real identities with the old social feature. Google+ is on the forefront of eliminating online privacy and pseudonymous interaction, in the name of tracking everything you look at, buy, think about buying or might have heard someone once think about buying online...so they can suggest more stuff for you to buy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


Yeeeeeeeah, I dunno. I mean, I'm sure that people used Reader as a social network and they're now sad that said option doesn't exist any more, but that article was rife with "cooler network than thou" posturing in my opinion. I've been using Reader for years and years for... reading things, which I guess makes me one of the "Lurkers" that apparently didn't exist in this magical content utopia?

I quite like Google+, mind you, so perhaps I'm just biased. Like I said, I get that people are sad when a service they use is discontinued, but I don't quite get this degree of malaise about it.
posted by jess at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


I guess I must be using Google Reader wrong, because it still works great for me. Which is not use it as a social networking service but just read my damn RSS feeds.
posted by aubilenon at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [101 favorites]


It's ironic that they published this article about the death of Google communities the day after Google+ debuts new Communities feature.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:31 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why attach a social network to a feed reader?
posted by empath at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Like I said, I get that people are sad when a service they use is discontinued, but I don't quite get this degree of malaise about it.

Google has a habit of killing anything that's not used by many millions of people. Google Buzz. Google Wave. Google Sets (I still mourn that one, it was fun). No doubt Google+ will go the same way eventually, but the things they eighty-sixed to make room for it probably won't be coming back either.

Why attach a social network to a feed reader?

It wasn't intended as a social network, it was just a way to share pages with people. But it worked, and pretty well. It also competed with their own product. Ah well, better take an axe to it!
posted by JHarris at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I definitely sympathize with those who used this, but there were people who really did use Wave, too, and whatever that previous social network was called.... wherever you can be social, someone's using it to be social. If it goes away, they've really lost something. But an RSS reader was, I agree, not any kind of a useful place to foster a social network. I use Google Reader a ton and I'd never touched any of those features.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:35 PM on December 7, 2012


Yeah, there's some wacky communities appearing on Google+ nowadays. Check out this kinda scary group of troublemakers ...
posted by Wordshore at 2:37 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Don't be evil - just be stupid.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost every Google+ article I've seen over at Hacker News includes plenty of bashing, and almost all of that bashing is valid. It's a poorly designed product, rather unusable in many places, and it uncomfortably ties the rest of your google products together.
posted by Catblack at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


gracedissolved: "and whatever that previous social network was called...."
Orkut.
posted by brokkr at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been proposing "CHKDSK turns into a social network app" as one of the signs of the End of Times for a while now. Just saying.
posted by Iosephus at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Perhaps they should have marketed G+ directly to Brazil this time.
posted by griphus at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Give me back my + sign for searches. That one feature alone is worth 10 google plusses.
posted by Aquaman at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2012 [36 favorites]


It's ironic that they published this article about the death of Google communities the day after Google+ debuts new Communities feature.

ironic indeed...

To us, it makes total sense that Facebook would choose BuzzFeed as one of the partners to test this new type of ad unit. At Internet Week New York, BuzzFeed told us that about half of their mobile traffic comes directly from Facebook.
posted by any major dude at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I still don't understand why people think Google+ is a ghost town. There is a really active science community. There are really active photography community. I have intelligent conversations about feminism and primate behavior and representations of Africa and all sorts of things with people from all over the place. And, heh, I get regularly harassed by strange men. It's like all of the internet - a tool. That's all.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:44 PM on December 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


Bottom line, they were only thinking of the bottom line.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:44 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, online company with "free" service insists on shaping said service into form that can be most profitably mined and sold to advertisers regardless of impact on usability, discontinues services which do not meet revenue goals, and refuses to adopt open standards that would jeopardize their revenue streams? Why can't they just give away high quality services for free and hope that Google buys them out before their VC funding dries up?
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:46 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Reader as a social network doesn't make any sense, but what Google failed to do was understand that a small group of niche users that are really really happy with something can actually lend more knowledge to your direction than any single bean counting marketer can. So the things they could have learned from this Reader social thing could have been the seed for G+. But they didn't go that way, and now look at the wild success of G+.

This happens all the time at tech companies, I think it just tells you that as "smart" as google thinks they are, they can blow it just as badly as any big tech company.

The moral of the story for the end user is to never invest in Google products in a way that will be hard to migrate elsewhere. I was really pissed the pulled the plug on the Google Listen android app (which you could manage your subscriptions with Google Reader), but then I downloaded Pocketcasts for $3 and now I have a podcast app that makes more sense, built by a company that can actually focus on something.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can anyone explain to me this supposed social networking aspect of Google Reader that has apparently disappeared and that I never knew about in the 6+ years of using Google Reader as my goto RSS feed? Anyone?
posted by daq at 2:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


well, at least it's better than socl ...
posted by scruss at 2:50 PM on December 7, 2012


So, online company with "free" service insists on shaping said service into form that can be most profitably mined and sold to advertisers regardless of impact on usability, discontinues services which do not meet revenue goals, and refuses to adopt open standards that would jeopardize their revenue streams?

Why are you even posting on Metafilter when there's no money in it for you?

At the end of the day, customer good will is more important than immediate profitability. Customers who like you will be more willing to pay than customers who have seen you destroy good things they like in favor of bad things they hate.
posted by JHarris at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2012


The hangout option on Google+ is actually incredibly good and useful. Works much better than Skype for multiple people.
posted by kyrademon at 2:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]




Don't forget that Google is also killing off its excellent portal page/reader, iGoogle, despite the efforts of the folks at SaveiGoogle.org.

Google's decision to kill off Reader and iGoogle, etc. is depressing, because it's clear that Google is no longer interested in giving users detailed control of exactly which newsfeeds to keep an eye on. Like Facebook, Google would much rather have users who just sit back and consume the feed that Google creates for them. Things like this are commercially useful for Google, but also genuinely harmful to the idea that citizens have a responsibility to actively select and evaluate their chosen sources of information.

I for one will tend to resist using products from a company that seems to me to have set aside the idea of good net citizenship, and embraced an ethos of cynical profitability.
posted by washburn at 2:57 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The moral of the story for the end user is to never invest in Google products in a way that will be hard to migrate elsewhere. I was really pissed the pulled the plug on the Google Listen android app (which you could manage your subscriptions with Google Reader), but then I downloaded Pocketcasts for $3 and now I have a podcast app that makes more sense, built by a company that can actually focus on something

Well, there's no guarantee that the small company who makes Pocketcasts will be around for 5 years and still focused on the same thing. I don't know who's got the better odds. The maker of Pocketcasts, btw, is named Shifty Jelly, so you know they're focused on stability.
posted by aubilenon at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


iGoogle has been my homepage for years. I'm not sure what I'm going to replace it with, but it sure won't be Google +
posted by straight at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah. Google+ actually seems to have caught on in a few communities.

It didn't displace Facebook, and I think that anybody who thought it had the potential to (including those at Google) were delusional. The network effect is a very powerful force to have to overcome.

That said, it seems to have filled a pretty nice niche, where many folks use it as a blogging and link-sharing service -- like Twitter, but without the character limit (or Tumblr, but without the mask of anonymity that generally makes it a very unpleasant place to be around).

While I understood the uproar at first, most of the remnants of Google Reader that made it a great little social network have been successfully replicated with Google+. The transition was rough, but many users stuck it out, and are generally pretty happy now. I guess the more fragile parts of the GReader community didn't survive, but I'm not sure that those fragments of the community would have withstood any sort of change to the service.

Whenever a social network shifts its paradigm, the luddites come crawling out of the woodwork ("why force an unproven social network on users at the expense of an organic one?" sounds like a cranky citizen at a city council meeting, but I digress). There's a well-established pattern that shows that established social networks will gradually whither and die if they don't periodically revamp themselves.

There's also the issue that GReader wasn't designed to be a social network. Yes, many services inadvertently turn into wonderful little social microcosms. This was actually discussed a bit in the most recent Metafilter Podcast. Instagram turned into a bizarrely successful social network, and some people even still use StumbleApon as a sort of social network(!).

However, if any of these networks want to thrive and survive, they do need to actually grow and evolve to accomodate the (unexpected) ways that their users are consuming their product. Instagram recently introduced profiles, and Google eventually turned Reader into a full-fledged social network. Unfortunately, Google aren't very good about predicting or accommodating their userbase (partly because Apple made it trendy to be deaf to user feedback), and G+ launched without some features that should have definitely been included. It needed a few more months in beta.

Facebook also reinvents itself ever 9 months or so, much to the ire of its userbase, who, without fail, eventually grow to love all the changes.
posted by schmod at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


daq: you could subscribe to other people's share streams and comment. For me, it was a vibrant community with interesting people and real conversations. When Google+ launched they killed that and replaced it with a fundamentally broken model which requires you to guess which of your followers will be interested in something rather than the Reader/Twitter model where you choose what you want to see.

Toss in a bunch of bugs, a poorly designed and badly implemented notification system and horrible mobile web support (broken links, sharing feature blocked, etc.) and the ghost town quips are more apt than snark. I had more interesting conversations on Reader in any given week than I've had on Google+ since it launched
posted by adamsc at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


ChuraChura: "I still don't understand why people think Google+ is a ghost town."

You know the "Friendship Paradox"? That thing where your friends have more friends than you do? (And also the reason we over-estimate bus ridership?)

Google+ tried so hard to grow early on that all of my connections there are people I don't know or who I barely know. When I log in and look at my feed it's pages and pages of animated .GIFs, kinda like Tumblr, but without porn and from people I don't have any connection to.

And there's no API to update it, so none of my real-life or other social media friends are actually putting any content there.

So it comes across as the opposite of the Friendship paradox: Everyone here has fewer friends than I do.

I tried to create a "circle" that's "updates from people I actually care about reading", but somehow the interface never refreshes that in a way that filters it like I'd like. So I go to Google+, see pages and pages of tired old animated GIFs from South Americans, and wander away. Confused.

I have heard that the Hangouts are awesome, and at work for larks we've used it in some department meetings where the remote people join by speakerphone, passing around cell phones doing video chat in a way that has to be horribly confusing and disorienting to anyone who isn't in on the giggles, but...

To those of us who are old-school RSS users, social media tools are feed updaters and feed readers. To those of us who use a lot of social media tools, Google+ is a feed reader that can't read feeds of people we already know, and yet another stupid place to update that can't be automated.
posted by straw at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


At the end of the day, customer good will is more important than immediate profitability. Customers who like you will be more willing to pay than customers who have seen you destroy good things they like in favor of bad things they hate.

It's been said before, but us users of Google services are not Google's customers.
posted by nave at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Google+ had a lot of promise, as my parents are unlikely to ever touch it. But when they rejected my adding my nickname 'mullingitover' to my profile (and giving no explanation or recourse) that was the last straw. I deleted my account in a fit of pique, haven't gone back, nothing of value was lost.

It's especially irritating that when you try to view *any* google+ page on a mobile device, you're redirected to google+ signup and can't view the page without signing up. Fuck you very much. I'm enjoying their slide into irrelevance.
posted by mullingitover at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


BTW I'm a heavy Google+ user. And while one's network is going to tend to not be a representative sample, the friends who are on G+ in my network are the people who were heavy Usenet users back in the day.

Some of my techie friends (of the Usenet stripe) are there, but it is the primary social network for only a few of them, and my family and more invested in Facebook techie friends are not there at all or just lurk.
posted by zippy at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


washburn: "I for one will tend to resist using products from a company that seems to me to have set aside the idea of good net citizenship, and embraced an ethos of cynical profitability."

Dude. Google's provided like a year's advance notice for the retirement of iGoogle.

It's not a complicated service. It could very easily be replicated somewhere else (NetVibes is pretty good).

As far as I can tell, iGoogle's been showing major signs of age lately, and is increasingly at odds with the way that most people access search (as well as the way that Google *want* most people to access search). I'm not sure that there was any great way for Google to have updated it to make it fit into their current product portfolio, and it does take a surprising amount of time and resources to keep a web service in operation.

Google seems to be decent about phasing out products (apart from the Sparrow debacle), and provides lots of advance notice. You could even argue that Google Video stuck around too long. Also, let's not forget that there are several good and reasonable alternatives available to iGoogle.

Google is under about as much obligation to continue providing me with my favorite GServices as Ben & Jerry's is to continue stocking my favorite flavor.
posted by schmod at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


For me the *ONLY* feature of a social network is the people who use it. That's it.

Google Plus has a certain subset of my friends, Facebook has a different one. No other network or social-network-like entity (including Twitter or Tumblr, or I guess MeFi) has enough of my friends to hit critical mass and make me spend time there.

If my friends left Facebook or Gooplu for something else, I'd be there with them in a heartbeat.

But who controls what friends go where? I don't know, man. If you could solve that equation you could beat Zuckerberg and Google at their own games.
posted by edheil at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ben & Jerry's is to continue stocking my favorite flavor.

Let us all mourn Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls.
posted by zippy at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


straw: "And there's no API to update it, so none of my real-life or other social media friends are actually putting any content there."

mullingitover: "But when they rejected my adding my nickname 'mullingitover' to my profile (and giving no explanation or recourse) that was the last straw. "

These were deliberate design decisions to prevent G+ from turning into Tumblr.

Less spammy reblogging, no veil of anonymity.
posted by schmod at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2012


Wordshore: "Yeah, there's some wacky communities appearing on Google+ nowadays. Check out this kinda scary group of troublemakers ..."

Oh, that looks fun! I could see that turning into a MetaChat-esque spinoff of the site.
posted by schmod at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2012


gracedissolved: “I definitely sympathize with those who used this, but there were people who really did use Wave, too, and whatever that previous social network was called....”

brokkr: “Orkut.”

Huh? Orkut isn't a "was." Orkut's still around, and is huge. It hasn't stopped growing. It's not really an example of a social network Google killed; it's actually a relatively successful thing, particularly in certain countries. Or did I miss something?
posted by koeselitz at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"no veil of anonymity" is a design decision that might as well be a great big flashing "you and your kind are not welcome here" sign. The furor over the "real names policy" might have died down by now, but it is still the primary reason I won't put any effort into G+.

Truth is that G+ is not really a social network: it's an identity service. Google is not so much trying to compete with facebook as they are trying to prevent one's facebook account from becoming synonymous with one's "online identity".
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [19 favorites]


Me and a few of my friends used the social features of Reader quite a bit. We were all annoyed (some angry) when it was yanked away. I think we've all gotten over it by now.

I still use it a lot but I also use G+ quite a bit. More, really, than FB. I just *have* to use FB for posts to be seen by my offline communities. G+ has evolved, for me, into a separate thing than what all of my previous social networks were. I had to go beyond the people I knew offline and explore Pages, post publicly, etc. I like it actually.

I just realized I don't know people here in real life either. It must be a ghost town.
posted by melt away at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The joy of G+ is that nobody I know in real life is on there. Unlike Facebook, where I have to allow my whacked-out nutbar ex-sister-in-law to hold me friend-hostage so I can keep up with my nieces and nephews.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, for anybody who says Google+ is a "ghost town" – there are 235 million active users. That's a quarter of the userbase of Facebook. That's massive, in just about any terms.

The fact that you don't know anybody in a social network is not a datapoint about that social network. 100% of the D&D gamers I know aren't on Facebook. Does that mean that D&D gamers hate Facebook? No, it means I'm an outlier. There are billions of people on the internet; anecdotal evidence is worse than meaningless at this point.
posted by koeselitz at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Warning, a self link approaches. I wrote at length about the failure of G+. Essentially they failed to do what only Google could do.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google is under about as much obligation to continue providing me with my favorite GServices as Ben & Jerry's is to continue stocking my favorite flavor.

Just as we are under no obligation to feel good about having services we know and love pulled away from us.
posted by JHarris at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2012


Google's decision to kill off Reader

It is worth being clear about this -- they are not killing off Reader (at least not to my knowledge), this is about them eliminating its sharing features in favor of Google+. If they were killing Reader (please, someone tell me if they are), then I will immediately be ten times angrier with them, as it remains the best feed reader I know of.
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, for anybody who says Google+ is a "ghost town" – there are 235 million active users. That's a quarter of the userbase of Facebook. That's massive, in just about any terms.

Those are numbers reported by Google's own Senior VP Vic Gundotra. He's obviously going to act as a booster of his own company's social network. I'm equally doubtful of Facebook's numbers too.

Are there more objective numbers? Isn't there a Pew or Nate Silver equivalent for social network users?
posted by FJT at 3:33 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's very hard and requires some tech savvy to avoid signing up any or all of your Google logins to G+, and subsequently reporting any and all activity via notifications bar, when booting up an Android phone for the first time. My sister is the only human being I know personally who uses it for anything intentionally. The numbers of real users are almost certainly inflated unreasonably.

Meanwhile I get in trouble with all kinds of real-life people when I don't update my facebook page with baby pictures regularly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:42 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


: "These were deliberate design decisions to prevent G+ from turning into Tumblr."

No, I wasn't trying to make my real name 'mullingitover.' Google started allowing a 'nickname' field, as in "Max 'mullingitover' Powers" and the like. Then they forbade me from having my chosen (and totally innocuous) username for no apparent reason.
posted by mullingitover at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2012


I really liked google plus for awhile in a similar way that I liked google buzz--it seemed to be a conversation facilitator. But there were and are some problems with implementation--the throttled ability to sign up with non-gmail google apps accounts, the fact that you culdn't add, like, nicknames next to people's names so you knew who everyone was (at first I was all excited about all the mefites I befriended! Then I realized I had no idea who anyone was . . . ). I still use google hangouts on a weekly basis with my writing group, and contend that it should have been the facebook/skype/everything killer but even that has been hella buggy lately. My enthusasm has rapidly faded from the last redesign on, pretty much

On a related note, I just went over to youtube and it looks like google made it ugly, too. Thanks, google!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll just say it. After a bottle of wine, I don't want my "accidental" wanderings on YouTube to have any connection with my G+ identity. That there is no bright line between them means that I'm likely to forgo building an identity on G+ as I know some night the Caymus will flow and I'll give in to something something something.

Integration is not a great thing. Victorian spectres loom large over the Western world and our inner and outer lives still need to be separated.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


Soon everyone will know about all the zit popping videos I watch.

Wait, I've said too much.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


all these years i thought i was alone
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


the throttled ability to sign up with non-gmail google apps accounts

What? I've been using G+ with a non-gmail account this whole time with no problem. Did they take away the ability to make new accounts this way?
posted by aubilenon at 4:27 PM on December 7, 2012


If you had your own domain email hosted through google apps service, they inexplicably wouldn't let you sign up until something like four months after roll-out. This meant that everyone with a google hosted @whatever.com account needed to use a separate @gmail account, and then transition. When I finally did (because I really didn't want to use my 5+ year old gmail account from college), I lost a good number of my followers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:31 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]



all these years i thought i was alone


Hi, Robocop Is Bleeding .

Face Gotcha down? Did you know there was a 10%-Off Sale on Both Clearasil and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Sessions? Click here!
posted by lalochezia at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


My friends & I used Google Reader's social features a lot. We all shared articles and commented on each other's article shares. I still miss it.
posted by statolith at 4:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, for anybody who says Google+ is a "ghost town" – there are 235 million active users. That's a quarter of the userbase of Facebook. That's massive, in just about any terms.

I suspect most are not very engaged. For a while, perhaps still, g+ would spam the inboxes of my gmail contacts who were not on g+ whenever I posted. Some of them now have accounts, but most never post.

So yeah, getting 235 million "active" registered users who sometimes click a link, by spamming them and putting a big red square at the top of Google Search? Not really the same kind of user as any organic social network.
posted by zippy at 4:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're not interested in counting engaged users. The figure is a measure of the number of available viewers for advertisements.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I definitely sympathize with those who used this, but there were people who really did use Wave

Still are, apparently. Somebody archived all the Google Wave threads & has resurrected the service as Rizzoma. I found out a couple days ago when they emailed me because I set up an experimental MeFi thread when Wave first came online, that's also been resurrected (must login via Google or Facebook to view).
posted by scalefree at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Give me back my + sign for searches. That one feature alone is worth 10 google plusses.

Putting the must-have word in quotes is the new way to do that.
posted by blazingunicorn at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which of course is unbelievably "annoying" beyond all belief.
posted by blazingunicorn at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Does anyone else have no fucking clue how to even use Google+? I don't even understand some of the metaphors. It's a fucking disaster.
posted by odinsdream at 5:23 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


1. I like the idea of circles, i.e. being able to restrict content cleanly by groups of contacts. I don't think it is implemented in a very useful way.

2. Hangouts are cool. They are widely used by the old-school D&D community, which is the one area of my interests where Google+ is even modestly relevant. Many of the blogs have gone to the annoying habit of using Google+ for post comments.

3. I'd rather not have Facebook or Google+ but most of the people I am in contact with use one or both.

4. The NFL.com site touts Google Plus hangout integration into its fantasy leagues. That's kinda weird.

5. I have used Reader religiously for years as an RSS aggregator, but somehow I never used the social features.
posted by graymouser at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I logged into Google+ to join a hangout for the first time in a year today. The recommendation engine was too creepy.
posted by humanfont at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2012


It's been said before, but us users of Google services are not Google's customers.

Yeah, you're just memeing. If Google angers its users, then no one will pay them a cent for anything. My point stands unchanged.
posted by JHarris at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2012


Is anyone here on Reader2000 or The Old Reader? I wanted to get on HiveMined, but it looks like it still isn't ready for primetime.
posted by reenum at 6:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


For a while, perhaps still, g+ would spam the inboxes of my gmail contacts who were not on g+ whenever I posted. Some of them now have accounts, but most never post.

Right next to the "share" button, there is a checkbox with the legend "Also send mail to [circle name]". Make sure that box is unchecked.
posted by Jpfed at 6:21 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I notice that YT will now stick a video "like the ones you watched a few days ago" at the second spot on the right side vidlist, logged in or not (which I rarely am).

do. not. want.
posted by telstar at 6:26 PM on December 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, why not a choice in the FB/G+ settings to check a box that says SEND NO EMAIL ANYWHERE ANYTIME. This miasma of settings makes my head hurt.
posted by telstar at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2012


And they just killed free Google Apps tonight as well. (Signups are closed; old accounts will keep working, at least for now.)

They're describing the move as killing free "Google Apps for Business," presumably because charging businesses for a business-targeted service sounds less objectionable, but "for Business" was just the new name for what used to be Google Apps for Your Domain and lots of people used it for personal and not-for-profit purposes.
posted by RogerB at 6:57 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those are numbers reported by Google's own Senior VP Vic Gundotra. He's obviously going to act as a booster of his own company's social network. I'm equally doubtful of Facebook's numbers too.

Are there more objective numbers? Isn't there a Pew or Nate Silver equivalent for social network users?


This is pretty informal, but google trends seems like a reasonable way to get a rough estimate of the relative popularity of the two services.

The trend for google+ just by itself seems pretty revealing about the lack of success. Basically, it seems to have had a declining user base pretty quickly after launch.

As for the big question about why google pushed users into google+ at the expense of other services, i thought it was pretty clear (note: i work for a competitor, so my perspective is obviously coloured by this). They thought that facebook was going to attract advertising revenue away from core search ads. My understanding is that facebook is very 'sticky' (in that people spend a lot of time there, once they've arrived), and has data about its users that advertisers love. These two combined add up to what is potentially a very attractive place to show ads.

So google saw the potential for facebook to disrupt their core business (search ads provide most of their revenue), and went after them as hard as they could. Their strategy was obviously to pull traffic from their existing, successful sites (up to and including the google SERP) into google+. To my mind, this shows how seriously they viewed the facebook threat, because they were clearly flirting with anti-competitive behaviour here (and it's a wonder that didn't get more attention at the time) and must have known it.

Anyway, that strategy seems to have failed, both in terms of annoying their existing users, and that google+ remains a niche site compared to facebook. However, they probably don't need to win this particular battle, as i don't think facebook will ultimately erode search ad revenue and become the existential threat to google that they thought it would be.
posted by nml at 6:59 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


And just parenthetically, it's really damn weird that in Google's Apps announcement's worldview the only categories that exist are "individuals" and "businesses." Like, they make products that purport to help people connect with each other socially, but somehow the only social structure they can actually imagine is the corporation?
posted by RogerB at 7:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Metafilter, MefightClub and one or two other places are all the social network I need. I remain willfully unconvinced of the benefits of spending time on Facebook or Twitter or G+. Others differ, I know, but.

In terms of Google Reader, I use it to aggregate RSS content for an inhouse newsletter I distribute at my company. I can't even imagine how it would be used as a socialization platform, to be honest.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2012


//It is worth being clear about this -- they are not killing off Reader (at least not to my knowledge),//

Google recently announced that they were killing off Adwords for RSS. If they aren't going to show ads in RSS feeds via Feedburner, what exactly is the point of Reader from Google's POV?
posted by COD at 7:19 PM on December 7, 2012


If they aren't going to show ads in RSS feeds via Feedburner, what exactly is the point of Reader from Google's POV?

They could just put ads in the Reader app like they do in Gmail? That would seem to cut out the middleman.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:21 PM on December 7, 2012


And they just killed free Google Apps tonight as well

No way is Google Apps worth $60/year. It's good if it's free, because that's the only thing that makes it numerous shortcomings worth the hassle. Not really a well thought out plan on Google's part, given how widely iPads are now used in small and large businesses alike, and how iWork costs about the same and works much better.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:30 PM on December 7, 2012


I see your point, but Feedreader isn't a middleman. Google owns it, and the reason they own it was that it was an easy way to inject ads into millions and millions of RSS feeds. I don't see what they would gain by re-engineering all that.

Reader displayed those ads. If Google isn't going to put ads into RSS feeds, the single revenue producing feature of Reader is gone. They may get data from Reader, but I have to think it is a rounding error compared to what they get from search. I
posted by COD at 7:31 PM on December 7, 2012


Can anyone explain to me this supposed social networking aspect of Google Reader that has apparently disappeared and that I never knew about in the 6+ years of using Google Reader as my goto RSS feed?

It was minor at first, people could suddenly comment on your shared items. And that the shared items became sort of public to people following you. They also confusingly had "star" as an option but I quickly realized if I shared, other friends could see it.

Then you followed people you admired, other bloggers that were ticking off their favorite items in Reader. At first I think this was all done innocently, without the knowledge that the entire internet could see your shared stuff. I kept shared items as a sort of rolling favorites, marking off about 2-3 items a day from the 150 or so I was reading.

The great part was about half a year into the sharing/commenting featureset I started to find people to follow I didn't know, that didn't even blog, but were incredible mavens for finding obscure items on obscure blogs. And all my friends could comment on my shares and mine on their like a nice twitter conversation (any new comments would highlight in the all new comments feed view they added).

The last year this existed, in 2011 was kind of a golden age. I had about 30 people I followed that shared lots of stuff, I had long conversations about articles with friends, and I found some incredible reader-only people that worked in research institutions or libraries or something that processed through thousands of feeds to find a handful of amazing items each day.

I visited Google last summer, and I remember when someone asked me what my favorite Google product was and I said strangely, it was the hidden geeky network inside of Google Reader, and their immediate response was "what do you think of Google Plus?" and I knew Reader's social feature's days were numbered.

I still miss Google Reader from time to time, though Twitter has replaced most of the functionality. I really wish it would come back into its former glory, it's sad to just use Reader by yourself, as your own thing apart from the network (I used to try liking things on Plus to get the items to "Share" to a network but it wasn't available in Reader to see, so I never got anything out of it).
posted by mathowie at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


I notice that YT will now stick a video "like the ones you watched a few days ago" at the second spot on the right side vidlist, logged in or not (which I rarely am).

I watch one stinkin' clip of Hitler & now the guy's been stalking me for days. Sorry, Adolph, I'm just not that into you. It's not you, it's me. Let's be friends though, OK?
posted by scalefree at 7:49 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


No way is Google Apps worth $60/year. It's good if it's free, because that's the only thing that makes it numerous shortcomings worth the hassle

Not Google Apps as in docs and the spreadsheet and stuff. Google Apps as in hosting your domain and giving you email to bob@bobsvanitydomain.com. I'm not saying anything about is it worth it or not, because I have no idea, but I do know that I can still use docs for free.
posted by aspo at 8:02 PM on December 7, 2012


Google Apps for Domains, or whatever they call it now, is rather awesome. I ran a small business with it and it was rarely noticeable; high praise for infrastructure that one just wants to work.
posted by zippy at 8:06 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used to use the social features in Reader as well. You could have a conversation directly on an article without having to repost that article yourself, the way you have to on Tumblr. And you could see at a glance which people had new shared items, as well as the titles of the items, and decide at your leisure whether you wanted to read them now, later, or never.

Imagine going to Twitter and seeing, instead of a constantly moving stream of updates, a list of everyone who has tweeted something and how many things they have tweeted. And each tweet is a link to an article with a short (or long!) note. And you and all the OT's twitter friends can comment on each tweet and have a conversation about the linked article. That's what reader was like: halfway between twitter and email.

With pretty much every other social network, you're at the mercy of the timeline. If you have a lot of friends, then you have to spend a lot of time with that site open just to keep up. I mostly used Reader to share things with my IRL friends, but it's easy to understand how it would have appealed to busy, professional people who couldn't have Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr open all day, but maybe used Reader for work.

In conclusion, I miss Reader ;_;
posted by subdee at 8:31 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


[drunk]Don't give me this Reader crapola. The only social network that was worth a damn was usenet, and we didn't even HAVE the term "social networks" back then. And then you young punks went and RUINED it. Damn you. DAMN YOU!!![/drunk]
posted by happyroach at 8:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


After reading through this whole thread I see no reason to change the opinion I had before I read it - Google+ kicks ass as a social platform, is wildly more engaging and interesting than all but one or two other sites, is crammed to the gills with smart people and content, and blows Facebook away in terms of being comfortable and non-creepy.

The idea that it's a ghost town, or that it's broken just seems ridiculous to me. I use it daily and it's a significant percentage of my recreational Internet usage. I've had to dial back on the people I have circled just because I was getting overloaded with things I wanted to read and conversations I wanted to dive into.

The Google+ you people are talking to bares no relation to the Google+ I use every day.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:17 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, there's this thing you'll run into if you spend any amount of time talking to people who work for Microsoft or develop apps for .NET. I call it "Microsoft Defensiveness". Like, they know their platform isn't cool, will never be cool, isn't part of the opensource mainstream, isn't particularly innovative, whatever. Microsoft is and forever will be the maker of "me too!" products. But you talk to someone who works with their products for a living, and they feel the need to defend them in this pathetic, humble, halfhearted sort of way. "You know, Windows Phone isn't that bad.... Zune has a lot of great features... .NET can do most of the stuff Java can do!" that sort of thing. Anyway, what's funny is that you talk to Google employees, and they totally display Microsoft Defensiveness when talking about G+. They're all like, "You know, it's actually kind of innovative..." Hilarious. Never thought I'd see the day. Guess that means Google's officially jumped the shark.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I was on the Reader social network. It was an amazing community, just as friendly, erudite and welcoming as mathowie and the article in the post portray it as. It's the only community I've ever taken part in online that I would compare to MetaFilter. I was devastated when it was shut down, but I had MetaFilter to cushion the blow. I have some friends who I met through Reader who've still not gotten over the death of the social aspects of Reader.

Personally this experience made me suspect that one day Google will kill Plus if it doesn't do what they want it to do, so I decided I wasn't going to put an effort into something that could be destroyed for reasons of corporate strategy.
posted by Kattullus at 11:59 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The last year this existed, in 2011 was kind of a golden age. I had about 30 people I followed that shared lots of stuff, I had long conversations about articles with friends, and I found some incredible reader-only people that worked in research institutions or libraries or something that processed through thousands of feeds to find a handful of amazing items each day.

I think part of the lesson here, and even the lesson about the scattered successful niches within G+, is that not everyone has the same way/model of interacting, or shall we verb it as social-media-ing. But then we sort of covered that in the Twitter/Facebook thread a few days back.
posted by dhartung at 12:07 AM on December 8, 2012


I wasn't going to put an effort into something that could be destroyed for reasons of corporate strategy.

Yeah, this is one thing that Google has really made abundantly clear with their repeated sunsetting. It's very frustrating when they have something innovative like Sets or Wave, and even if you can't figure out quite how to use it yet, you feel it might go away anyway so why bother?
posted by dhartung at 12:11 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


RogerB: “And they just killed free Google Apps tonight as well. (Signups are closed; old accounts will keep working, at least for now.) They're describing the move as killing free 'Google Apps for Business,' presumably because charging businesses for a business-targeted service sounds less objectionable, but "for Business" was just the new name for what used to be Google Apps for Your Domain and lots of people used it for personal and not-for-profit purposes.”

As numerous people have point out, "Google Apps on your own domain" is absolutely not "Google Apps."
posted by koeselitz at 12:25 AM on December 8, 2012


I know this isn't Reddit but Today I Learned that Google Reader had extensive social features that I only became aware of after they're long gone.
posted by MattMangels at 12:27 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So let's see... a bunch of smart people like the way a thing used to work, that thing doesn't work anymore, but they still want something like it. I bet some of these people could probably get together and make something quite like that other thing without too much trouble.

But I could be wrong, since I don't do any coding whatsoever.
posted by dave78981 at 12:44 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


They could, but not something that would scale well.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:27 AM on December 8, 2012


The only social network that was worth a damn was usenet

And the brilliant thing about Usenet, in hindsight, is that its infrastructurture is decentralised and not under control of any one party, while the user experience was centralised to the same extent as a Facebook or Google+.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:38 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, for anybody who says Google+ is a "ghost town" – there are 235 million active users. That's a quarter of the userbase of Facebook. That's massive, in just about any terms.

I have a G+ account under Deoridhe which was made for one of my spam accounts because you could no longer make an email account without a G+ account being tied to it.

The funny thing about tying a service to things people actually want to use, like email, is you end up with inflated numbers. Of course, it's hugely likely the G+ account made was als banned, since Deoridhe isn't a "real name".
posted by Deoridhe at 1:48 AM on December 8, 2012


I'm still legitimately terrified of my email accounts that aren't tied to my actual real name being nuked if I try to hook them up to G+ using one or more of my gmail wonderchicken monicker variations, and I haven't got either time or inclination to try to find out definitively if that (still) would or would not happen, so, you know: to hell with it. I just don't have the energy.

The only social network that was worth a damn was usenet

Reddit is usenet 2.0, basically. That is not a compliment, I hasten to add.

As numerous people have point out, "Google Apps on your own domain" is absolutely not "Google Apps."


See, the thing is, I'm pretty sure this affects me, but I understand very little of Google's massive tangle of confusion any more, even when it has a direct impact on me, and I grow increasingly keen to disengage as a result. Problem is, again, I have neither energy nor time to do that, because their hooks are so deep into me. It is a bad situation to be in.

For me at least, my main problem with Google these days is trust, and that's too bad, because like 3 or 5 years ago, I trusted them a whole hell of a lot.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:23 AM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


relatively speaking
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:27 AM on December 8, 2012


I have no idea how closely this hues to the old reader in functionality, but there is a replacement through a third party:

http://theoldreader.com/pages/tour
posted by dave78981 at 3:17 AM on December 8, 2012


I mostly used GReader as a sync source between my work PC and my home Mac. I didn't use the social features at all. Now I use Feedly, a Firefox extension, to read and it happily syncs with GReader as well. Feedly can connect to Twitter and Facebook, if that's what you're in to. It's much faster than any desktop client and looks nice, too.
posted by tommasz at 4:11 AM on December 8, 2012


I apologize for the semicoherency of my previous comment. It's been a long fucking month with little far too little time to worry about the vagaries of internetty service provisioneers and their annoying peccadilloes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:01 AM on December 8, 2012


Many in here have questioned whether you can, why you would, and whether you'd want to have a "social network" in a feed reader app. For me, the social aspect was secondary; once I started using Reader, it started letting me know that my GMail contacts were also using it and would I like to start seeing what they were sharing? I did, and now I really miss that aspect.

If Google's purpose behind closing down the social aspects of Reader was to focus on building Google+, why didn't they use the built-in communities in Google Reader to nudge users over to Google+? They could have maintained similar features within Reader, but required users to sync them with a Google+ account and built in other features that linked between the apps. Sure, some people would've resented the forced linking, but that's preferable to the situation now, where everyone resents the loss of their community.
posted by benbenson at 6:18 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only thing I'd add to No.1's concise and accurate overview is that the "social" aspects of gReader were really mild, low hurdle entry and without any pressure. It was just sharing : sometimes a conversation might start, oftentimes we just consumed weird/interesting material shared by people we followed. It was just another rss feed really. It was the horizontal opium den equivalent of social webbery which is why I liked it so much. I could do nothing or lots as the winds took me. In that regard, it bore some similarities with Mefi.

I agree with benbenson too.

I maintain the rage (well, more of an occasional sigh) by not using G+. Twitter's my preferred stand-in for gReader sharing; but it's very different.
posted by peacay at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2012


Cast me in with the lot who has used Reader for a long time, but was only dimly aware there was a social aspect to it. Dimly aware meaning I knew it had some sort of sharing etc, and on occassion I wondered if I was missing something or just not using the service "right". I could never really be arsed to do anying about it though. At this point I feel like I was definitely missing something.

I use it now e same way I always have, as a central index where I link up interesting rss feeds so I can access them on my idevices. I go to the actual reader site very infrequently.

As for Facebook, I use it because variou people I know use it. I liked what I saw of G+ and suspect ai might prefer it, but I have no contacts there who use it, maybe we all feel the same way.
posted by datter at 7:11 AM on December 8, 2012


My feeling is that social networking is a totally useless fad if not an outright scam and that if anything can be called a virtual ghost town as of late it is Facebook. End of story. Facebook is easily the most useless, inept and time-draining aspect of my life. By leaps and bounds. I feel more at home on MetaFilter under a pseudonym than I do on Facebook where I'm connected with all my real-life friends.

So now we move on the question of useful social networking. This is like trying to shoot a rabbit with a handgun. As a photographer, look at all the options I have. Do I use Smugmug, PhotoShelter, Project 1709, Flickr or Picasa to host my images? Do I use LinkedIn, ModelMayhem or Craigslist to get jobs? Do I use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest to promote my work? Do I use Adobe Cloud, iCloud, Amazon or Drive to centralize my data? I mean, I'm not even scratching the surface here in terms of the possibilities that are out there promising me the world and vying for my money. The nerds in San Francisco are busy at work.

Say what you will about Google - and trust me, I agree with all of it - but a least they appear to be committed to the idea of useful social networking. But this is a huge endeavor, no one has done it yet, and everybody should be prepared for critical missteps and failures. The question is will Google ruin it's brand through all these fuckups - see Wave, privacy concerns - or will it survive.

The next generation of internet users won't be like you and me, they won't roam around the internet anonymously plugging in http addresses, laughing at old geocities blink tag websites. We are a dying breed. To me this is the most shocking development. Fuck me if I didn't lose my iPhone yesterday. Having cursed the day I signed up for Find My iPhone, I was nonetheless able to find out exactly where I lost it. Meanwhile Facebook is breaking their own features and forcing content providers to pay for "sponsored posting." I mean, how fucked up is that. And what can I do about that? Nothing.

So big picture is you can choose to be plugged in or not. Whether the quality of your life is improving is a completely different matter.
posted by phaedon at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I look at Google+ vs Facebook as something like Beta vs VHS or HDDVD vs Blu-Ray.

You can see the technical merits of Google was trying to do, and the G+ mobile app in particular is very smooth. But network effects really mean they're just too late; there simply isn't a point for most people to join a second social network that is trying to compete with Facebook. For all of Facebook's flaws and limitations, for most people, that's where their friends are. They are, in effect, locked in. When I pop into G+, I don't see the same people I am "real world" friends with (who are also my Facebook friends), but rather professional contacts, tech industry people, etc. In that way it's a little more like Twitter - I can follow/reply/connect with people I might otherwise never meet, whereas Facebook is populated with family, real friends, etc.

G+ can only be successful as a 'niche' social network that tries to do something different than Facebook - and you can see they're trying to do this by pushing the 'hangouts' hard, etc. But they'll never be a Facebook killer, and the more they try and push themselves as competing in the same space, the more they'll fail. It's not because Facebook is "better', but simply that it is already there.
posted by modernnomad at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right next to the "share" button, there is a checkbox with the legend "Also send mail to [circle name]". Make sure that box is unchecked.

Pretty sure I did, and either the Google+ android app ignored it, Google reset my preference, the UI confused me, or there's a by design spammy perfect storm of:

- encourage user to add email contacts to circles
- make email contacts look just like active g+ users in sharing
- if user shares with an email contact individually, email them without asking.

At least, those are my guesses, as a spam-hating and generally savvy user.
posted by zippy at 11:26 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had to finally give in and sign up for a mefi account JUST because so many people are asking, "why on earth would anyone want to use Reader as a social network?", and I have lots of feeeeelings.

mathowie is right that Reader became best right before it was killed-- and part of the disconnect I'm seeing here comes from people assuming it was a social network like FB or G+, which is not the case. All of my friends on GReader were either people I had known for years online, or their friends who got to know me through the site. This was not social networking like "hey we took a class together, I'll friend him so we can keep in touch," because it wasn't about all of us posting our updates about ourselves. What GReader offered was a system of content essentially curated by the people you trusted to do so, and the ability to have ongoing conversations about that content.

Sometimes, that was one million pictures of corgis. Sometimes, it was internet brouhahas. Sometimes, it was news, recipes, whatever. There was never that FB problem of certain people sharing too much, because the format prevented that from becoming overwhelming to the participants who were busy-- but, best of all, it showed everyone in the group which posts were being discussed (rather than just viewed mid-scroll).

I mean, I discovered Metafilter after GReader died, but the concepts have some overlap. GReader as a social beast was kind of like a private metafilter, where the only users allowed were people you specifically wanted there, and there were no rules for FPPs. It was the best of the web as defined by the people you liked best, but with way more pictures of adorable animals and Batman feeling sorry for himself, because repetition of the things we loved was heartily encouraged. Have you ever made a friend sit down to watch a youtube video you know she'll love, and then you get to laugh together and maybe talk about how funny it was? It was like that, except with lots of people who lived all over the country.

I would have happily paid money to keep it alive, and I can't believe no one has invented another version of it yet.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:54 PM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


> Can anyone explain to me this supposed social networking aspect of Google Reader that has apparently disappeared

I could read something on Google Reader, think "this will amuse Mr Corpse!" and click a button ("Share," as I recall), and then when he looked at his own Google Reader account it would show up there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2012


Why hasn't anyone cloned google reader yet?
posted by humanfont at 1:56 PM on December 8, 2012


mullingitover: "But when they rejected my adding my nickname 'mullingitover' to my profile (and giving no explanation or recourse) that was the last straw. I deleted my account in a fit of pique, haven't gone back, nothing of value was lost."

My g+ profile has included my nick as an "other name" since the beginning. I guess Google's inconsistency knows no more bounds than Facebook's.
posted by wierdo at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2012


There's also the issue that GReader wasn't designed to be a social network.

Just a quick clarification: it was designed with that in mind from the very beginning, actually.
posted by massless at 5:07 PM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]



I don't know what the deal is but it seems like a lot of social networks seem to want to massively over-design their UIs. Google reader's UI would work great for G+ posts

Honestly what I'd really like is the ability to read people's G+ posts in Google reader. When you go to google+ you just get a big wall of posts, apparently filtered by Google somehow. I found google+ fun at first, but after a while it got kind of boring. It seemed like a lot of the "content" was from social media marketing types, and when I would find interesting stuff around the web I kind of hesitated to post it under my "real" name. I did create a "delmoi" page, but apparently you can't add people from a page. That's probably a good idea, but it means that I didn't have any way of telling people who might want to follow me about it. So I ended up with zero followers (Apparently I've picked up a couple since I linked to it here)

I also think the UI is way over done. If I could just add G+ feeds to Google reader, I would probably be much more likely to actually use it.
---
Why hasn't anyone cloned google reader yet?
Fundamentally, it's just an RSS reader. But it just happens to be a pretty decent one. I'm sure there are other RSS readers, many which probably fun social features. But the problem is that it's unlikely that as many people are using it as used GReader.

What I'd really like to see is, rather then cloning Reader directly, someone should make an RSS reader where "share" is actually something that will post directly to your own blog, with it's own RSS feed that other people can subscribe too. That way it could be done in an open way.

There are actually extensions to the Atom RSS spec* like atompub and PubSubHubbub that should theoretically allow you to do everything that's done with most social networks in a totally distributed way.

*technically atom is an alternative to the RSS format, but most readers are compatible with both. It's actually much better, IMO
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not just that Google Reader is a good RSS reader, it's that it is, itself, a website, and with a reasonably good AJAX interface, so it runs on nearly any platform you have. They even had a version optimized for the Wii's web browser some time ago, although they may have quietly disabled that in the years since or something.
posted by JHarris at 7:10 PM on December 10, 2012


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