22.7.11

so-called social schism

And so google+ has landed; facebook and yet not.
Having never joined and having withheld my vitriol for facebook since starting this blog, I now have an adequate comparison and reason to espouse my distaste for the social Goliath. I can’t say that I am a particularly social person, I don’t set out to be anti-social by any means and people who I deem to be my friends I enjoy spending time with much like everybody else. Where I differ, I think, is that I don’t really seek out social interaction, I’m very happy in my own company, rarely get bored or lonely and generally quite like being on my own.

When social networks first appeared on the horizon, lumbering into the modern technological landscape like the rubber suited Godzilla’s (if you look back at the first GUI’s of myspace you’ll see how shabby and rough they look) I jumped on quickly and made a myspace page and, shame of shames, I’m one of the few remaining users. I feel sorry for myspace, I truly do, like the boy-band of its day it was once market leader, then one day the plaid-shirt wearing, indie upstart that was facebook came and usurped its cause. Facebook didn’t have the music capabilities or the personalisation tools of myspace but eventually it won out and has now even commandeered a ‘sign in through facebook tool’ within myspace, how sad!
By the time of the first great social network schism and the rise of facebook I was not so enamoured any more, I knew who my friends were, we had phones, text and email, msn, skype and good old fashioned letters at our disposal as means of communication.
I just didn’t see the need.

As the years rolled on and those user numbers streamed past as if someone were counting the grains on an egg timer I started to notice some problems with the social overlord. Apart from its privacy inadequacies, which were cleverly passed by users with a “don’t like it? Then leave, I dare you” attitude, I began to realise that I was being left behind. I was being involuntarily labelled as more anti-social than before because not only had the verb ‘to facebook’ been invented but the word ‘social’ had evolved.
Social was now employed by the powers at facebook. No facebook, no invites, no photos, no messages, no friends. I now had to rely on the forethought of friends to send out one extra invite - past the facebook mass invite - via email or text to me, their only friend NOT on facebook. I trust my friends but I also understand their apathy, I was becoming a problem due to facebook being such a useful and usable tool, in all honesty if it were not for Miss F, the social butterfly that she is, I would have been left out of many a party, even the ones in my own home. I know that I am the problem but it was facebook making me so, not being on meant I was an inconvenience to everyone, and having to do anything over and above the one uber-invite was a chore that was more than likely not worth the effort.
Sadly from what I saw though, facebook was a nightmare of privacy issues, inane rambling and bitching and online politics that I didn’t want to be a part of.  There are stories of facebook’s information grabbing to the extent that should I now wish to join I wouldn’t really need to input any data as it has already aggregated it from my friends who are users. But despite my distrust and dislike for the site I was getting ready to bite the social networking bullet and join as Miss F prepared to move away to her prestigious new academic career, it was nice as people were actually excited that I would finally be joining them on facebook.


But behold the coming of the second great social network schism as google+ sails in at the last minute like a bestockinged Errol Flynn to save my digital bacon.
Free from privacy issues (every aspect is under your control, which circles see which information is your decision) and inane chit-chat (either all my friends on it are awesome or its not yet full of idiots) and with all the sharing and looky-what-I-found fun of twitter, it currently seems like a social juggernaut.
(Thanks to xkcd for explaining google+ more accurately and with more comedy than I ever could)


10 million users had signed up last week once invites had opened up, granted it has its work cut out if it wants to see the migration and numbers which facebook saw upon its release. In its move from college networks to full public opening facebook saw an uptake of 100 million users in less than 5 years, approximately a million users a month.
That is a tall order to take on and only time will tell how the uptake and /or migration of facebook and google+ users stacks up but google does have an added card up its sleeve which seems to have eluded facebook and many other high end tech companies over the years. The integration of the various and varying google products (youtube, picasa, buzz, gmail, etc.) is a great coup for plus and the reason these products are so successful it the way in which they operate. What links them is that they are all run by user created content, youtube now has over 2 days of footage uploaded onto the site every minute, google earth is quickly filling up with user photos and 3D models made with sketchup.


Google’s ‘let the users manage and create’ ethic has seen many of their products succeed beyond expectation and with little input from the creators, once the API is released for google+ it’s easy to foresee the explosion of applications, personalisation tools and widgets that will make google+ the most user friendly and social social network we’ve ever seen and I can honestly say at this point that even if it wavers or fails to entice facebook users to migrate I still wont be joining facebook.

If you haven’t joined yet feel free to drop me a comment or email and I’ll send an invite.
    

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