Google+ has been, by nearly all measures, a successful early launch of a still to be fully defined, but promising early product. After the oddly satisfying exercise of ‘whisking’ my contacts with profiles into circles of startup buddies, colleagues, work acquaintances, and ‘posters’ of smart people that generally create or share good content through Facebook or Twitter, I browsed an interesting, but fairy moderate stream, and shared a brief study on the level of consumer engagement generated through crowdsourcing. Then I navigated to one of my other 25 windows, and brought up Facebook, and took out my defriending knife.
Moving from G+, there was Facebook in all it’s non-white space, formatted glory, The Blue Lady herself. I’m not a hater, I think Facebook is great, and I think even her detractors realize its tremendous value, but are irked by something in the delivery. All of my friends are there, great access to companies, causes, and events I care about, and some well built out apps. It’s not that Facebook doesn’t have enough, it’s that it occasionally has too much, or more accurately, that perhaps I’ve tried to put too much into it.
I’m fascinated by the great, passionate people I get to meet in the startup world, and I get to meet a lot of them. More and more though, when I get back from a conference or event, I find myself met with Friend requests from people I’ve known for 15 minutes. I I’m a public guy and probable over-sharer, but Facebook is not generally where I’m going to talk about my views on crowdsourcing or my company’s latest milestone, it’s where I share esoteric references to old friends, off colored jokes, rants about aquariums, and pictures of my 2 year old.
I get why though. Linkedin is where I keep my contacts so that I don’t have to file them, where I try to make useful connections between good people I know, get context on people I meet, and where I can explore the networks of the people I know. It’s not a place to stay in touch, to foster a relationship, to share news, perspective, a bit of personality and serendipity with people that you have some overlap or looser association with. Twitter has been a useful tool, but has never come close to meeting this need for me. This, to me, is Google+, a clean, well lighted place for the people you meet and want to stay in touch with.
I’m interested in seeing how Google+ evolves, but I don’t currently see it as a threat to my Facebook usage. By having Google+, I’m excited to have a better experience with new people I meet, but after “The Great Defriending” I’m looking forward to better interactions with my friends on Facebook. I’m old enough to remember the Pavlovian shiver that “you’ve got mail” wav would release (don’t make fun, in my day AOL was all we had, and we were happy to have it gosh darnit) and how that eventually faded in direct correlation to the amount of messages from friends verse clutter and spam, shades of which I had started to feel creeping in on Facebook. Post my Google+ transition and Facebook cleanup, not only is my Facebook stream less cluttered and more interesting, I feel like I’m around people I know well again, I don’t have to feel as filtered, to worry about making bad second impressions, and I don’t think I’m alone, I feel like I’m hearing the more authentic voices of old friends who have made a similar transition; it’s what originally brought me to Facebook, and I’m happy to have them back. We can swear again on Facebook, and it’s all thanks to Google+.