I originally signed up to Google+ back in 2011 when it was still in an invite-only stage, watching it grow over time and iterate gradually. It was the anti-Wave, not the anti-Facebook, something that I hope it continues to do. But more importantly, it is the way that Google intends to tie our identities to the services we rely on. The long-term strategy has been to add meaning and context, both for the user and for Google’s advertisers – super granularity on a big-data scale. It’s what Google does, but plussed. The fact that people can post things is mostly icing on the cake, it’s the +1’s and connection graph that is where the action is.
I’ve never been a status update kind-of-guy. For a multitude of reasons, some privacy related (a far more important issue than many believe), some time constrained, and some simply to spare others of the tedium of my daily routine. I certainly have long stopped reading other’s status updates – I don’t seek validation or ego-boosts in this way. The same reasons that I more or less don’t log-in to Facebook any more often than once or twice a year to clear out messages, and that I’ve completely closed my Twitter account – it just doesn’t add any value beyond the momentary.
But I do like to record down my thoughts for future reference, especially on tech-related topics, and G+ has served as a good platform to do so. One day I’ll look back and read about how wrong my predictions were on any number of things, I’m sure. A completely unexpected bonus has been a substantial number of people visiting this humble site and reading my articles (around 200 uniques per day / 500K total), especially my guides and how-to’s. A sincere thank you, and I’m glad that I made a positive difference.
However, as a blogging platform, G+ has issues. Notably, there’s no image embeds, no formatting beyond basic bold/italics, no putting more than one link in a post, let alone hyperlinks throughout the text. There’s no stats, basic or detailed, no tagging, no categorization, nor customization of themes. Most crucially, it’s closed, there’s no API for third-party tools so exporting is done solely through the Takeout function, a format that’s no importable by other platforms. You also can’t schedule posts, aside from tricky workarounds. Try to search for your past posts, say a year or two ago. It’s possible, but enormously tedious.
Which brings me to WordPress. It’s open-source, you can self-host it if you want, it’s infinitely more powerful, it’s what software should be like. I’ve realized that this trail of thoughts of links along the way from my Google+ page is what WordPress excels at. WordPress has everything that Google+ doesn’t, but it does lack in a few ways. It’s harder for people to add comments, since they need to be logged in. This doesn’t really bother me as I don’t post to get comments – I just post to record my own thoughts. You’ll notice the absence of distracting social or share buttons.
For reading and finding content, I still visit Google+ every now and then, probably once a week or so. The Circles function is invaluable (around 3/4 of total posts are not public, which makes estimates of activity difficult), the Communities function is also great, assuming you’re selective with which communities you join.
Everybody would benefit from streamlining and simplifying their services. Less things to think about, less things to maintain, just set and forget. That’s why, over time, I’ll be gradually migrating my content (both past, present and future) from Google+ to here. Update your RSS feeds.