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Google v Facebook, continued

10.11.11 by Dov

So, I recently signed up for a Facebook account.  Yeah, I know, welcome to the 21st century.

I was doing just fine without one, though.  In fact, the only reason I did it know is because I was forced to in order to comment on some website.

Once in, though, I figured I’d see what all the fuss is about – after all, 800 million people can’t be wrong, right?

As those of you who regularly read this blog know, I’ve also experimented with Google+, which I actually like – though I’m certainly not a power user by any stretch of the imagination.  I use it about as often as Larry and Sergey, though, so I figure I’m in good company.

In any case, now that I’ve at least logged into both, I feel that I’m qualified to compare, and I know you’re all dying to hear the results (by the way, “Facebook vs Google Plus” returns 10.5M hits in Google for those of you who actually want a thoughtful comparison).

I’m going with Google+.  Facebook makes my head hurt.  Yes – I’d have WAY more friends in Facebook, from what I can tell.  For just having logged in, it did a great job of figuring out people I know, etc.  And I am going to keep the account, so I can post comments across the web (and links to this blog – maybe that’s how you found this post?).  But it seriously makes my head hurt.

When I post, I have no idea who’s getting to see that post.  When I edit my profile, I have to idea who’s going to see that I made a change.  I tried to look at the privacy settings, but there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of different checkboxes to be set, along with videos explaining what does what.  I’m sorry – but if I need to watch a video to figure out how to keep total strangers from seeing my birthday, it’s too complicated.  And yes, I know you can’t actually see my birthday – but you get the idea.  And as a result, I’m not going to post anything except the continued links to this blog (which are created automagically).  And I’m not even sure if anyone can see those.

So, Facebook continues to grow, while Google+ is struggles.  You can sort of tell where this is headed (i.e. Google giving up), and, apparently, I’m the only one who will miss it.

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Google v Facebook

6.30.11 by Dov

So, Google+ is all the (pardon the pun) Buzz since it’s launch on Tuesday.  And apparently, people like it.

We’re having a bit of an internal debate here on whether it’s a legitimate competitor to Facebook.  Part of the answer depends on whether Google sticks with it or throws in the towel early, but let’s assume they’re in this for the long haul.

In that case, my bias has historically been that it’s really hard to start a new social network – even if you’re Google.  There’s so much inertia from users already having all of their friends, etc. in one place.  But Web 2.0 has changed those dynamics somewhat.  Unique identifiers like OpenID and public APIs (such as Facebook’s) make it much easier for users to transition – or for that matter, to tie multiple social networks together.  Why couldn’t Google use Facebook’s API to ease the transition by helping to recreate networks and pull in content?  Could Facebook shut off Google’s ability to use the data that they already make available to so many others?  I suspect not without facing anti-trust attention of their own.

So, I’m taking the position that if Google can introduce a new way to think about social networking that appeals to users (though the jury’s still out on that), and particularly if they enable some integration with Facebook over time, I don’t think users’ existing networks and content in Facebook will keep them from also joining Google+, and perhaps eventually shifting over completely.  And, I suspect, the ability to share with your “real” friends, family, colleagues, etc. on a selective basis will appeal to many people who are worried about the “all hanging out” aspect of Facebook.

What do you think?  Looking forward to ditching your wall?  Or is FB your BFF?

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At what point does this become scary?

5.26.11 by Dov

So, now Google will know everything we buy offline, too?  Perhaps we crossed the line of giving up all of our privacy a long time ago and I just didn’t notice, but this is starting to creep me out a bit.

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