Wondering who that is? Here’s the link, and just for fun, I’ll try to get through the whole post without otherwise identifying him. Oh who am I kidding, it’s the infamous Scobleizer, Robert Scoble. He recently wrote a post on why he’s betting on Google+. Here are some key reasons, and I believe they are represented fairly in context:
What I’m noticing is Google+ gets the best stuff first. And this is “with no one on it.” (That claim cracks me up, a new post shows up every 20 seconds, 24 hours a day, and that’s with following only 5,000 people here)
My videos get more views after a month, due to Google and other search engines, than they do in the first day (which is when you’d see them on social networks).
Google+ items are the best way to get my media into Google search. I’m already seeing that. Now that there’s a search engine here on Google+ it’s even a bigger deal.
How do you best capture the EMOTION of your time? Blogging? Not for me anymore. Tweeting? Not for me anymore (I will continue being there, mostly to let people who won’t leave that system know what I’m doing and where I’m doing it — it has turned into a UI for my Facebook and Google behaviors). Facebooking? Yes. I’m still there and will be for forseeable future at http://facebook.com/robertscoble
I think I can summarize his arguments into the following statement: Google+ is a great content discovery tool for both content consumers and products, and a personal blog and Twitter don’t capture enough emotion and conversation. And I think he’s right — for Robert Scoble, and possibly a handful of others — and I can further understand why they have the passion for the site. I’d argue, strongly, that for the majority of other people, and not just mainstream users but technically sophisticated ones as well, Google+ is utterly lacking the experience consumers want. It doesn’t have my actual friends in it, nor does it seem to have the features that they will want (and they’ve reinvented the use of the + button, and there aren’t multithreaded conversations, and and and). But I’ll instead just do the counter to Robert’s key points above.
First, it’s my assertion that most people don’t much care about finding “the best stuff” nor do they care about the speed at which they find it. To my friend Robert, it’s a very important thing, which is understandable given the nature of his career. Most people, however, are consuming a trickle of content, and are not living in “real time”. Most people found out about Michael Jackson dying, Steve Jobs resigning, and the Japanese tsunami many many hours after the events, with only a tiny fraction of us in the few seconds or minutes after it was announced. Considering the availability of blogs, twitter feeds, and other streams, if the mainstream really wanted to consume more stuff in real-time, we’d already see much higher spikes in traffic to some of these sources. Google+ being “best” or “fastest” is one of those situations where “good enough” beats great by a long shot, and this isn’t going to send it users.
Robert’s next two points have to do with getting his content to a wider audience – I’ll keep this point short and sweet: the vast majority of people rarely create content that they share with the general public.
Next up is creating emotion – I don’t mean to sound too harsh here, but the “emotional fabric” of Google+ is roughly on par to that of a sheet of loose leaf paper, maybe slightly less. Google+ is about as bland and expressionless an environment as I have seen online, it’s only slightly more “warm” than their search results. Facebook is unquestionably a better experience from this perspective, and as clever as the Googlers are, incorporating the warmth it’d take to create this kind of environment is simply beyond their DNA.
Lastly, on what is a blog for? It’s about identity. It’s only because of the “.com” that Robert grew an identity as Scobleizer (like it or not). If a random person were to hear about Robert Scoble and decide he wanted to learn more about him, read his works, etc, he’s going to end up at his personal identity site. Which is, at present, his blog. In the future if it’s a smorgasbord of content distributed across the blog, YouTube, Building43, Google+, Facebook, and the occasional tweet, he’s diluting his brand. Now luckily for Robert, he already has a brand, and he can really push the limits of sites like G+ and Facebook to accommodate his following behaviors. But again, none of this ties into the identity of a random individual online, who is, like it or not, probably based on Facebook, with occasional presences on Twitter, Yelp, and other sites.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t question if Robert himself is getting a lot, at present, out of Google+, it’s clear he is. But I’m shocked he’s betting the future on it. I feel like we saw this play out once before, back in the FriendFeed days. At the time, he was warned by Michael Arrington not too invest too heavily in that service. And just because “it’s Google” isn’t enough to be certain of permanence, in fact Google’s killed quite a few products recently. And if Google+ really becomes a “ghost town” that the founders themselves aren’t interested in participating in, I wonder how long it can survive.