Google+ is shutting down next year. My disappointment is great. It’s been my social network of choice for years. I’ve kept at it even after I deleted both my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
While I found those to be distracting, Google+ has and continues to be a terrific source of entertainment, information, wide-ranging news, and even humor.
Before I jump onto another platform I’ve decided to examine how I’ve been using Google+ and what I enjoy the most about it. What follows are my initial thoughts.
One of the things I’ve liked about Google+ is the ease with which I can send, receive, and share information on defined subject areas. To do this I currently use both the “collection“ feature and the “community“ feature.
I currently manage the following “collections” on Google+. These are topical collections of links, commentary, and/or images that I have created myself or that I am re-sharing from the web or from elsewhere in Google plus:
Managing Data. On planning, managing, and governing data-intensive projects & programs.
History. Interesting old stuff, events, people, and books.
Positive Ways Forward. How - and if - America can move forward in an increasingly interdependent world.
Science and Technology. The more we learn the more questions we have.
Pick of the Pics. I take a lot of pictures. These are some of my favorites.
Things Growing in Our Yard. Things growing in our yard.
Managing Projects. The real world of project management.
Movies. I like all kinds of movies.
Now, Media. On new and old approaches to content generation, distribution, and consumption.
People can “subscribe“ to these collections, they can comment on the items I publish or share, or they can just give the published item a “+1” to indicate some level of appreciation. The number of subscribers for my collections varies from the low thousands (e.g., 3,280 for “History”) to almost 18,000 (for “Managing Data”).
In addition to Collections as described above I also subscribe to a variety of Google+ “communities“ as well as several individuals.
Communities are groups of people who share common interests. They are moderated by individuals or small groups of people and are occasionally subdivided into subgroups. The communities I follow most closely are these:
Several Anime related communities
A community related to Apple products
Communities dealing with fountain pens, calligraphy, and handwriting
Many individual communities dealing with a wide range of science, technology, medical, and engineering topics
Nature photography (insects, birds, flowers, mushrooms, etc.)
Aircraft and space program history
It’s also possible to follow individual. One example is the science fiction author David Brin. His rants range from science to politics to science fiction. He’s always fun and does not tolerate fools. Then there’s Tim O’Brien whose demented classic comic panels beg for sarcastic and twisted comments.
How I Use Google+
I use Google+ several ways:
I check it every morning for what’s new. As you can tell from the collections I manage and the communities I follow the posts and comments that pop up in my daily feed are quite diverse.
If I see something that interest me I’ll share it with one or more of my own collections, often with a comment or two.
I’ll write a rough draft of a blog post in Google+. Sometimes the comments I receive will help in preparing the editing posting for my own website.
I’ll repost article links from my own web site into one of my Google+ collections, for example, a movie review or an article about data governance.
Sometimes I use my own collections as a “holding pen” for articles published elsewhere that I want to read later on.
What I’ll miss most when Google+ is gone
Google+ makes it easy to control the context and focus of the topics and people who interest to you. If you run across someone who is homophobic, racist, or who just enjoys being a troll, you can use the blocking feature and you won’t see that person‘s comments or posts.
I have plenty of other sources for political news and discussions and I’ve been pretty successful keeping the rivers of information coursing through Google+ focused on the eclectic mix of topics I’ve described above. I especially enjoy the mix of science and technology news that I get through Google+ and often feel uplifted by what I read.
So, What Went Wrong?
Given the high quality and value of this platform, why is Alphabet shutting Google+ down?
I think the security breach that went unreported for so long was just an excuse. Google never understood how to market or support Google+. The fact that it’s a “free“ service without advertising probably accelerated its demise when Google decided it could not — or would not — compete with Facebook. The bottom line was that Google didn’t know how to compete with Facebook in the “social media space” and figured it was time to cut its losses.
I’m not going to “jump ship” right away. Also, I have no real interest in returning to the cacophony of Facebook or Twitter.
Google+ may have successfully avoided the social media decay that has darkened the rise of social media and technology. And it’s too bad that Google+ no longer fits in a company that primarily depends on advertising as a revenue source.
Finally, people might be wise to reconsider heavy reliance on other “free” platforms. They may disappear tomorrow no matter how important they are to you.
Copyright © 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald