Google+: A ‘Ghost Town’ or ‘Best Thing Since Sliced Bread’?

There is a web battle royale brewing over my PBS MediaShift post published yesterday afternoon in which I critique Google+ as a social networking hub / the Internet’s next big thing.

As I mention, “Google+ is dead.  At worst, in the coming months, it will literally fade away to nothing or exist as Internet plankton.  At best, it will be to social networking what Microsoft’s Bing is to online search: perfectly adequate; fun to stumble onto once in awhile; and completely irrelevant to the mainstream web.  To be clear, I do not buy the beta argument anymore. G+ still being in beta is like Broadway’s ‘Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark’ still being in previews. It has premiered. Months have passed. Audiences have tried it. Critics have weighed in. It is a show — just not a very entertaining one.”

Hundreds in the Twitterverse have latched onto my sentiments, offering uber-agreement about the flaws and current irrelevance of + to anyone but the technorati, mediaheads, and early adopters.  On G+, as you might guess, I am being vilified as a lazy ‘hater’ (Bill Keller of the NYT called me that!) who simply doesn’t ‘get’ how to use the service and wasn’t willing to put in enough time to learn its quirks and bask in its awesomeness.  While some comments have been asinine (oh, Internet, how we love thee), many have raised interesting issues.  So is Google+ a “ghost town” (as a writer I quote calls it) or is it “the best thing since sliced bread” (as MediaShift executive editor Mark Glaser describes one digital media evangelist’s perspective on it)?

Below is a screenshot sampling of two write-ups about the debate spurred by the post:

Separately, here are a slew of tweets and a well-put G+ post agreeing with my basic sentiments.  We are not haters!  We have simply not had a + experience worth our time.

In a discussion thread on G+ earlier today, Glaser summed things up best:

Wanted to respond to the firestorm created by the article linked below on MediaShift by +Dan Reimold. There have been responses by+Robert Scoble, +Jeremiah Owyang and +Frederic Lardinois, and many more here on Google+.

First of all, Dan’s piece was his own experience, which was very different than my own experience. I’ve actually enjoyed being on G+ and it’s become my primary social network over Facebook and Twitter, not only because of the great interactions but also because of the privacy controls and Circles.

However, his main issue was that he did try the service, he did post and Circle people, and didn’t get that interaction. I doubt very seriously that he is alone in that experience, and the fact that very few of my non-work-colleague, non-media friends have come here regularly proves his point. Google+ might be a hit with the in-crowd, digerati, new media types, etc. but it has a ways to go to become a hit with the masses.

That’s not a knock on the service, in my opinion, but just a place where it lives right now. No one can say whether it will last or die, as we all know the staying power of most mass market social networks is about 3 or 4 years (if you judge by Friendster, MySpace, et al). So there’s a place for the booster like +Robert Scoble to say it’s the best thing since sliced bread (or FriendFeed) and a place for +Dan Reimold to say it’s dead to him.

One Response to “Google+: A ‘Ghost Town’ or ‘Best Thing Since Sliced Bread’?”
  1. sam says:

    I really don’t quite get google+ yet.