Well, here it is — my actual post about Google+.
For those of you who still haven’t heard,
the bird is the word Google+ is Google’s new social networking experiment. Their response to Facebook, if you will. Google has more-or-less tried this before, with Buzz, but Buzz never really took off. At this point, it’s difficult for me to tell what Google’s strategy is for how Google+ and Buzz will coexist. Right now, they seem to be completely separate, yet strangely intertwined. I have a feeling that as Google+ develops, it will eventually completely replace Buzz.
I hope this is helpful.
Unfortunately, I’ve left out screenshots for now. I’ll try to get some in later this week to better illustrate what I’m talking about. Added screenshots July 4 @ 11:50 PM.
Now that you know what Google+ is, click through to read an overview of my view of the evolution of Google+, a review of the UI, and my general thoughts on things.
Spymaster has gone downhill since it has launched. Recently, especially, some changes have been made that should not have been made. There was nothing wrong with the way spymaster worked, and the way the game was played, but it was modified anyway.
The first change that was made was the one that really annoyed me. Spymaster added another currency, “points”. You can either purchase points, or get them by completing “free” offers (just give some company all your personal information), and points can be used to purchase “special items”. These items give some players a huge advantage in the game. This comes in the form of getting more spymasters, getting better odds of winning an assassination, or having your energy instantly rejuvinated. The problem, once again, is that you can buy these points. The one with the most real money wins. This puts someone who has been playing spymaster and building up a social network on the same field as someone who has $100 to spare. This is not what the game was designed for. It was designed to help social network move forward, help meet new people, and have fun while doing it.
Recently, another change was made. Instead of being exclusive with twitter, you can now log in to spymaster through facebook. While this isn’t as bad as being able to buy your success, it seems like a bad move. Being twitter exclusive gave spymaster an interesting edge. What was so special about twitter? I can’t quite say, but twitter seems more the place for short spymaster updates.
Perhaps, though, spymaster was destined to make this move. Adding spymaster to twitter made it more like facebook. Facebook recently introduced applications that can add updates to your feed and serve to annoy your friends because they now have to see the results of the quiz you took of “What Harry Potter character are you?!?”. Twitter was free of this muckery. If you were following a person, you were following an actual person, and the updates were soley their thoughts, whatever they were up to. Now, spymaster is forcing twitter to follow in facebook’s footsteps. Spymaster updates are just plain annoying. I have enjoyed the game, and still think spymaster sending updates to twitter is counter-productive. It annoys the people who are following you, and can cause close friends to stop following just due to the annoying updates from spymaster.
Maybe that’s why they added facebook. They saw that they were killing twitter, and thought “Hmmm… facebook users are accustomed to this!” So, spymaster is just contributing to the downfall of facebook, which has become less about social networking, and more about annoying your friends.
Facebook is starting to become MySpace.
When facebook started, it was a great idea: provide a way for college kids to easily find and communicate with their old high school, and current college friends. A simple, easy form of communication to link people who physically know each other. Then, they opened up registrations, a little at a time, and, now, anybody is free to join Facebook.
This was OK at first too, though. It was still a great way to communicate across generations, or with people in other states or even countries that you physically have met. It enabled people to plan events, and share what’s on their mind, all while keeping a standard layout, something which MySpace never guaranteed. It would seem that the reason MySpace died in popularity, and the reason Facebook gained popularity, was the customization of MySpace profiles, the communication aspect of Facebook, and the reputation that MySpace had recieved over the years.
But, it seems that Facebook is drifting away from its innovation. The first step towards this was e-mailing you when something happens. This has always annoyed me. The settings for e-mails in facebook are “E-mail me if X happens” or “Don’t e-mail me if X happens”. So, if I want to be notified if someone replies to a thread that I’m part of, I will be sent an e-mail any time anyone replies to that thread. If I don’t, I won’t be notified at all, and will have to visit Facebook (which I often forget to do).
This creates a lot of spam in my inbox. In a thread even just between five people, if thoughts are flying back and forth, my inbox gets filled up with e-mail from facebook quickly. So, facebook needs to take a hint from forums. Offer a third option: notify me on the first event. This should send you an e-mail saying “Someone replied to thread X” when someone replies to a thread you’re part of. Then, it should wait until you actually view the new messages in the thread before sending you another e-mail that someone replied. On top of that, take into account things you’re notified of when browsing the site. If I’m on facebook, and someone writes on my wall, the website tells me this. Don’t also send me an e-mail, it just gets annoying.
But this isn’t the only way facebook is becoming a virus. I noticed something interesting happening the other day. A friend of mine took a quiz, and I saw it in the “news feed” on my main page. So, I took the quiz to see what my result would be. Soon after, another three or so of my friends had also taken that same quiz. It’s hard to say whose quiz-taking inspired these others, but this spread of wildfire is very virus-like.
Some, though, might call this the wonder of social web. That things are happening this quickly, and that we can see them in real-time is a miracle of modern technology. But, have we gone too far with this? When something exhibits the qualities of a virus, how long does it take for us to break down and just call it a virus?
This type of action is, in my opinion, what caused MySpace to fail. I think Facebook is a needed hub of communication, but I think that if it continues on its current trajectory, it will just wind up in a crash landing.
So, it seems that Facebook has become the new, and is taking the path of, MySpace.