Back in the day (late 80s) the internet was text driven. We had USENET newsgroups with threaded conversations on various topics. Later we migrated to Yahoo, Myspace and Google forums with thousands of members. Then Facebook came along and distracted a lot of people. The “art” of commenting on news and blog sites like the Huffington Post replaced a lot of focused, intelligent discussion with diatribe, hyperbole and flaming. Then the Twitter era, where posts became 120 characters. I’ve always found Twitter difficult to use for conversations. At some point we shifted to commenting on Facebook status updates and links. Before Facebook changed and changed and changed again, I used to get hundreds of comments on my status updates. Then we lost the ability to see everyone on our friends list in chat, our feeds got lost in some kind of Facebook determined algorithm and it got harder to communicate with people unless we actively sought each other out. That became less likely the more cluttered our tickers got. Anyone who’s tried to use Facebook Groups knows how wonky that process can become. They deleted the ability to put up a nice icon and left us with what looks like a small Windows 3.1 icon set. I have a leaf for the 12-Step Buddhist FB group image. Lame. Facebook Pages are even more confusing. People complain if you post product announcements but don’t reply much to resource postings. It seemed as if the days of using the Internet to communicate with like minded people had become lost in a dizzying array of over-saturation with poor choices.
I just mentioned this history to a friend the same day that I got into Google Plus. I wondered where all the intelligent discussion went on the Internet. Was there some site I was unaware of where people shared information without spam and anger? Then I got on to a Google Plus discussion for a new book on authorship. I write books and am interested in technology. I was shocked to find out that there were great people, resources and conversations to be had. Others have been saying this for some time, but I was unconvinced. For some reason, like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, I didn’t get Google Plus right away. In fact, I tried to migrate off of Facebook onto Google Plus about a year ago. That lasted approximately five minutes. It’s easy to get frustrated with Facebook and how they control what we can see and how we’re seen. But Google wasn’t doing much better. Google seems to do search well, but when it comes to their other products, like Calendar, Youtube, Pages, Groups, it’s a pretty unrefined process. Even simple things are tedious. Then I noticed something about Google Plus. It had Communities. People were having intelligent discussions. There was integration with Youtube which enabled something called a Hangout. In a Hangout you can invite up to 10 people to chat, broadcast the live video which was later saved to your Youtube channel. These features seemed, finally, to be good reasons to refocus on Google Plus.
I created a new username on Gmail, set up the Google Plus profile and connected it to Youtube. It’s all pretty new so there isn’t a ton of activity yet, but in the 12-Step Buddhist community we have 20 members in about a day. It looks like it has potential already. I reinstalled the Google Plus iPhone app and joined a bunch of communities on Buddhism, Science, Philosophy. Some still seem spammy, but others are interesting. I think it depends on the moderation. Will this replace Facebook, Twitter or anything else? Not likely.
My philosophy on marketing and communications has long been to use all available means. If there’s a good tool, I’m ready to try it. From what I can see, Google Plus is now a good tool. Join the 12-Step Buddhist community and introduce yourself on the Hello, my name is… section. Let’s see how it goes. We can arrange a time to do a Meditation Hangout. Should be fun.