On Google+ and the Social Networking Space
So Google+ is on the scene now as Google's next, supposedly seminal, project. It's taken an inordinately long time for Google, who pride themselves as innovators, to launch this product. But then again, they launched it already, in the form of Google Buzz, and got the whole thing wrong (a series of embarrassing privacy concerns took the buzz out of, er, Buzz).
But Google+ seems like a move geared to actively addressing such concerns and, indeed, additional concerns which continue to hover around Facebook. That is, why isn't there a better system for grading and sharing the degree of information about oneself which is shared with various friends? Not all friends ought to have the same levels of access to your information and Google+ attempts to accomodate that truth by helping you organise your friends into 'groups' (or cliques...) with whom only specific media is shared.
Some interesting social network graphs will come out of all this, no doubt, but I'll keep my scepticism at bay for now because of this post by Andrew Nusca at ZDNet. He proposes that we all give Google+ a little room to open up before we go hailing it variously as "the future" or "a damp squib". Nusca, essentially, is calling for moderation, patience and contemplation.
And that is no bad thing.
One of my hopes for the internet is that, instead of a chaotic space into which newcomers enter energetically and continually repeat the same mistakes and faux pas, the net will evolve into a cultured realm with accumulated knowledge and etiquette so that users will begin to learn from each others' experiences and insights. Instead of just the frivolous 'virality' of memes and trends, the internet will offer instant access to ideas and approaches which we have bashed out democratically, as a globalised species. So far this has been limited to specific communities in cyberspace (often forum-based, for example).
Digital consensus on certain issues might be hard to achieve, but on the very simple stuff, like how we respond to a new product, electoral candidate or news story, it's possible that over time the hyperactive, screaming echo chamber will give way to a paradoxically slower medium which, while still instantly updated and informed, would consist also of netizens who react rather more meditatively to the discourse they encounter online. This of course sounds like a wild ideal today, in the era of FAIL and Lulz, but perhaps our frustration with that kind of inanity will win through one day.
"So when it comes out, give it a shot. Decide for yourself. Then ask yourself why you’d need to read a review about a social networking service in the first place."
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