• Google+, not exactly doubleplusgood.

I like social media. I tried MySpace back in the day, then I got onto Facebook pretty soon after it opened itself up to non-Havahd students. I’ve been on Twitter for a long time. And I have a vested interest in all this social stuff as it is very relevant to my profession (advertising) and to my music. I also think it’s good for democracy and bad for dictatorships. So when Google+ was released, I wanted to try it, and a few days ago, I finally finagled an invite. What a letdown.

If you follow Google at all, you will know that Google+ is the company’s third attempt to create a social network. First there was Buzz and then Wave. Both failed because they did not offer a simple promise. I mean, can anyone actually explain them? They’re like Obamacare. But Google+ is just a straight up copy of Facebook, except it’s not. Here is the key difference: on Facebook, the people you share with are called friends and you get friends by asking people to be your friends. This simple, clear feature is why Facebook put MySpace out of business in short order. On Google+, the people you share with are called, um, well I don’t know and you invite them to share with you by, um, well I don’t know and once they are either in or not in your Google+ crowd, you can assign them to circles (Friends, Acquaintances, etc.). In other words, whereas MySpace sucked for a clear reason (any dimwit could be your friend) and Facebook was cool for a clear reason (“friendships” were two-way), Google+ is a murky thing of muck. What Google needed to do was copy Facebook and offer a clear, simple difference that would be so compelling people would want to switch. Instead, Google created a copy that has differences that are so difficult to explain, you can pretty much forget someone saying, “SCREW FACEBOOK, I’M GOING GOOGLE.”

And this upsets me because I don’t much like Facebook as a company, and I want an alternative. I don’t admire Mark Zuckerberg at all. Sure, he’s accomplished a lot and that is admirable, but unlike Jobs, Bezos or Buffett, the guy just has no likable qualities, at least not that I know of. Further, his creation is not that admirable. I mean, what’s amazing about Facebook? The Internet? Well, Gore, not Zuckerberg, invented the Internet. Now, Google, well, what Google does — let you find the tiniest needles in the largest haystack the world has ever seen — that’s amazing. Google told China to go phuk itself, major props. It was one of the first businesses to realize that storage is cheap, servers don’t have to be pretty, open source can be enterprise class, your customers will help you make your products better if you let them, transparency is good, effective advertising does not require an ad agency, and on and on. I’m rooting for Google, dammit. In fact, about the only thing I don’t admire about them is their hiring practice, which is to pretty much go with IQ first — maybe I’m just sensitive, but I think that only people with high IQs know their IQs because they’re told at some point and no one has ever told me my IQ — and look at another company that put IQ first for years: Microsoft. And I ask, how well are they doing? Sure, tons of money, but reviled and completely lacking in new ideas. Back to Google... so, given that I admire the company and hate Facebook, I wanted Google+ to be great. Or, at least, good enough. It’s not. It will fail, I think, and the world will be a poorer place for it. And that sucks.