Thursday, September 01, 2011

Google+ Review

Scrolling isn't easy.
On most web pages, I hit the space bar to scroll down an entire page. On G+ that may or may not work. Usually it doesn't. So I use the touch pad or the mouse to click in the scroll bar area. It beats scrolling down one line at a time.

Open in new tab? Think again.
G+ does not want me to open links in other tabs to read later. It over-rides my browser settings and switches my view to the new tab. I get this, I really do. If I read the link now, I can comment to the person who linked. I haven't scrolled down (see above,) so after I read the article, or interpret the lol cat semaphore message, I'm still right on their post. Will this work, or will we all just stop clicking on links?

Sorting your contact list into categories is a powerful data-gathering technique. Not powerful for the users, powerful for Google. For the users, it could work as a method of disseminating information to an audience with specific interests. You can post about books, to your "book" circle, but unless something needs to be censored from an audience segment whom you know will not enjoy it, most posts tend to be marked as "public", or "all of my circles". Someone whom I didn't know was a book fan, might also enjoy the post, so shielding the post from them, doesn't make sense.

The real power of circles is how we categorize our contact lists. We take the information that we know about our contacts, and give it to Google for free. While I might be circumspect about how much personal information I share online, my contacts are free to sort me into circles of their choosing. Anything that they know, (or imagine,) about me could be used. Given the sense of humor that my friends have, I'm probably in a database somewhere, filed along with 8-foot tall Rosicrucians who have always been Communists. True or false, it is going into my file, and I will never even know what it says. No wonder my email box is full of advertisements for co-joined twin tailored clothing.

Name Nym Nom
Real names are encouraged. Real names are required. Names that don't look real enough, sometimes result in expulsion. So a disproportionate amount of posting space has been devoted to protests when someone's real, but unusual, name has gotten them booted from Google-ville. Some people want to use their long-term pseudonyms, but unless you are willing to list your legal name as well, the G-peeps say that you are failing to
comply. By this standard, Lady Gaga, Dear Abby, Ann Landers, and Marilyn Monroe would have all been exiled.

One of my contacts posted extensively about the name
policy. He wanted to use his DJ-fabulous nickname, and he wanted Google to like it. His friends replied with their support. One said that he didn't even know any other name for the guy. To me, this just indicates that they don't know each other very well.

By the way, DJ-fab is gone now. Nails that stand up, get ban-hammered down.

In all of this painfully drawn out reasoning and pleading by early-adopters to please, please let them use their true spiritual geek-names, I haven't seen one acknowledge that aside from data-mining, the Goog is trying to pre-empt potential armies of sock puppets. If someone advertises a dust-jacket-of-the-future to their "book" circle, and hundreds of grateful, loyal, fictional fictional fans post that they love it, this skews marketing statistics for the company. For me, as a reader, it just makes me less likely to ever expand a comment thread. Real commenters are long-winded enough. So have a pseudonym, have two. Just don't have dozens of them.

Let's be very clear: Google wants to know you very well. Not just what you share, but what you think. What recipe you looked up, which word you looked up the spelling for, AND NOW what your friends think about you.

In case you are wondering what I think about you, I will be open. I believe in glasnost, my dear Comrade. You have just been added to my circle of one-armed paper hangers who practice bee-keeping in their spare time. Your targeted sidebar ads should be along any minute.