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UX: The Visual Web, Killing the Discussion
The introduction to the new Google+ reminds you to "Liven up your post" with a photo or a video, cuz, you know, words are soooo dead.

With the recent successes of Instagram and Pinterest, analysts are hailing a revival of an old trend in communication (with its roots in stone age cave paintings). Pictures! "Andrew Lipsman, the vice president for industry analysis at the research firm comScore, called [Pinterest's] popularity among brands one more example of “the rise of the visual Web,” along with Instagram (which was recently acquired by Facebook) and Facebook’s timeline feature, which is heavily driven by images instead of text ."

Mobile versus the Desktop: Tool Limitations on Text
As we consume more and more of our content over mobile devices, we are losing our tools both for consuming and creating text. On a mobile device, even responsive, voluble readers can hardly be expected to do much more than tap out an acknowledging +1 with our thumbs or, if we are really motivated, a "LOL". The marketers worry about the lack of audience engagement. Would they also expect us to clap without hands? Give us a keyboard where we can touch type.

Opposable thumbs gave us an evolutionary advantage but thanks to our mobiles we're now all thumbs. I saw one poor man at SXSWi pawing at his iPad screen like a puppy, as if his fingers had fused.

I know some of you are wonderfully adapted to typing with your thumbs. And limitations often result in new art forms as the creative among us test the boundaries. In Japan, the mobile phone beget the thumb novel, keitai shosetsu fiction serialized for text messaging.

In 2009, Barry Yourgrau wrote, "...the keitai shosetsu phenomenon hasn’t so far headed west...mobiles play a different role in Japan. They, not computers, are the principal portal to the internet. "The majority of my students (19-22-year-olds) don't have a PC," notes Yuki Watanabe, a PhD candidate in Tokyo. "They're of the keypad, not keyboard, generation. The lingo of texting is normal language to them."

In 2012, we seem to have caught up. In the introduction of the Google+ redesign, Vic Gundotra touts "Conversations you'll really care about". Unfortunately, the limitations of reading and typing over our mobiles hamper in-depth discussion and influences the design of our tools. It's hard to "cherish the conversations that unfold" when we have to open every long comment separately -- even when viewing on the desktop. (Maybe that's what unfold refers to.) This is time-consuming, and annoying. Being constantly required to fiddle with the tool distracts our attention from the content of the discussion.

Opening a comment also causes the left text margin to jump. Our eyes strain trying to find the beginning of the next line. (I can no longer find an example of this so maybe it's been fixed.) As with using any kind of tool, the user should be focused on job, not the tool.

So what tools does Google+ provide for conversation? Per Vic:
• Full bleed photos and videos that'll make you really proud to post
• A stream of conversation "cards" that make it easier to scan and join discussions
• An activity drawer that highlights the community around your content

Look at a screenful of conversation cards. How many lines of actual content text do you see per screen?

Driven by Images
Kelly Mooney. "[People] love scrolling for minutes or even hours looking through photos by friends, celebs and brands or on topics they’re passionate about. With Instagram, there’s no need to share any sentiment or craft the perfect post. Words aren’t the magic here; pictures are." (Emphasis mine.)

Vic Gundotra. "Simply put, we're hoping to make sharing more awesome by making it more evocative. You know that feeling you get when a piece of art takes your breath away, or when a friend stops by with unexpected gifts? We want sharing to feel like that, every single time." (Emphasis mine.)

So the visual web is like TV channel-surfing on steroids. We j-key through the conversations cards, passively staring at images which reduce us to our primal, emotional state. Awesome! Do we stop there with what Wordsworth called "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" and call it a success? Or do we press forward and meditate, mull, analyze, synthesize, and create something of our own? Do we have a real conversation?

I can't settle for appeals to emotion; I want thought-provoking ideas.

A Picture's Worth
I enjoy seeing beautiful, startling, evocative photographs and paintings on Google+. But I get tired of that old saw, "A picture's worth a thousand words."

Show me the picture that expresses, for example, all that +Peter Strempel does with his words.

Despite the setbacks, we lovers of words don't give up. No. We keep trying to make it better. You can find some of us in +Dieter Mueller 's Homo digitalis circle.

The Visual Web

Kelly Mooney: The Rise of the Visual Web

Vic Gundotra: Toward a Simpler, More Beautiful Google

Barry Yourgrau: Thumb Novels -- Keitai Shousetsu 携帯小説
Alex Schleber's profile photoDaniela Huguet Taylor's profile photoPeter Strempel's profile photoM Sinclair Stevens's profile photo
Gplus has it's own variation of ADHD.
Thank you very much +M Sinclair Stevens for such a lucid expression of my own thoughts. It seems like images rule these days - and while I have nothing against a good image with a point, there's too much inane emphasis on token imagery. Sorry for the grumps!
Notice how many words the author used to tell us that words are dead.
I've found that the only way to grab anyone's attention these days is to do precisely what +M Sinclair Stevens has done here and add a "tag" in the form of an image that sums up the thoughts behind the post. That way, even if no one even takes the time to read, they can feel confident that they've gotten through to at least a fraction of the population.
I worry about us dumbing down, but after some good discussions, I think this photo craze will simply augment our words. They say that switching sensory modes extends your attention span, so perhaps with pictures stapled in, we will read _longer and more insightful posts than before!
Great thoughts, +M Sinclair Stevens. I may not have noticed your wordy post if I hadn't been on my phone app. I have the Evo Shift with the keyboard. It's not the best substitution for a PC, but it's preferable to me to browse G+ this way now.

Now I have to wonder about what +Marc Jansen said. Will I get more attention if I add pictures? Or am I adding to the overload of images by adding pictures? I haven't decided on that yet. I want a bold headline to be enough, but I am most likely fooling myself.
It bothers me sometimes when I get more response to silly pics then to the questions and poems I post, but i understand that a quick response to a visual is easier than a well thought out response to a burning social question, or emotional response to art or feelings...

still it makes me wonder...

I love the feedback either way, each interaction teaches me something
I think you do need to add a picture to a wordy post +Amy Knepper - a bold headline just won't cut it these days. +Johan Horak has talking about this the other day when he introduced me to Glogs as a way of creating images with posts, specifically for G+
I dunno, really. I tend to skim right over all the graphics until I find some words. The pictures all blur together for me. And I don't use a mobile device. I like my desktop and use it whenever I can I'm a dinosaur, like that.
I've actually been contemplating the notion of conducting an experiment to try to flesh out my theory a bit more, but I've been too swamped by work lately to have time to do the idea justice.
+Marc Jansen Thanks for noticing. After the redesign, several of us text-based folk started using typography as our image. We get frustrated but not discouraged. We keep playing with the tools we're given and making what we can of them.

I like the generated word clouds that some people use. Others use thought bubbles or a picture with text. However, I decided to go for a consistent approach so that people could always spot my posts in the stream.
And, just today, I ran a quick experiment with a humorous post. I ran it first, text only, then followed with the same text in a graphic format, all gussied up with type-tricks. They pulled the same.
i play the text vs pics game daily... and i am always interested to see which posts pull more "attention""
Conventional wisdom, from the Google+ introduction to Google+ experts like +Mark Traphagen and +Jaana Nyström say add pictures.

However, I think it depends completely on what audience you are hoping to attract. I don't mind a picture that enhances the text or text which is describing a picture. But I will skip right over a post which has a barely related clip art picture just because the person feels obligated to post one. I always feel like the picture is a loss leader -- I'm left wondering what the story has to do with it anyway.

Under the redesign, posts with no pictures at all get the most lines in the unexpanded view. For me, the thing that catches my eye is a good headline in boldface. Don't put a blank line after it because that wastes a line.
What do the 'trending' posts feature (I confess: I never look)? What do the most followed people post? What is the substance of these posts (Ie, would you come back to them after an initial read)?
Just as photos and pictures convey different information than words, so too words convey different information than photos. A photo is always an image of some specific thing. A common noun, however, expresses a class of things. The word "tree" applies to all trees, any kind of tree, big or small, bare or in leaf, etc. No picture or photo of a tree, no matter how breathtaking, can convey the image of "every possible type of tree" like the word "tree" does.
+Melony Isaac Yes it is easier to respond to something silly than the deeper, more thought-out posts. I'm guilty of putting a post I really want to discuss aside to think about it and then never getting back to it. Meanwhile I'm off succumbing to mindless cute cat videos. (I've fallen in love with the French cat with ennui.)

A lot of it has to do with timing, too. If you get two or three people involved in the discussion and notifications keep bringing them back in, the comment stream feels like a party at a friend's house where everyone is sitting around the kitchen table talking and drinking beer.
Excellent points about how mobile is creating a sort of pincer movement against text that is already facing the situation with the design of services' UIs as you describe (and that is itself of course driven by the rise of mobile).

I am "typing" this on a galaxy tab 8.9 using Swype, which is still the best input method on touchscreens that I have tried. But it has its limitations to be sure, and there need to be better tools for text, especially for faster quoting of snippets from elsewhere, and URL/titles/headlines curation in aggregate.
I agree that mobile is making the text world more difficult. But on the whole, I still think I get more valuable text on Google+ than on any other social network.

And an image with a post should only be an eye-grabber. Then the text must do the heavy lifting.

I would write more, but I'm on mobile right now ;-)
+Mark Traphagen your last statement about being on mobile right now... was somewhat ironic to say the least!
+Peter Strempel Sure make me do the dirty work. The top trending posts at the moment (they change constantly) have a picture, most with the message overlaid on the picture. Several have no other text. Some have one line of text or a hashtag. Only two had enough words associated with it that one has to expand the post.
+M Sinclair Stevens <smirk> Sorry. I am actually under pressure to reply to some 'wordy' posts elsewhere with considered words of my own. I have several tabs open in different discussions and plead image blindness (a well known variant of snow blindness) as my excuse for not looking </smirk>
This quote came to mind...

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.”
― Don Marquis
+Keely Rowe Maybe if you extend that out to include another qualifier about: 'And when they start to think habitually they'll seek you out because they'll need to talk to kindred spirits.'

Too idealistic or optimistic? I'll take my chances.
Since the redesign, I spend more time on less conversation. I don't exactly know what factors drove it in that direction, but I can detect the overall trend so I don't really care. I'm just sad.
At most times now it seems that G+ has replaced "140 characters" with "ONE picture, album, or video"
The jumping of the left text margin still happens when (long) comments are viewed within the notifications drop-down.
If you check out the hashtags #KurtVonnegut and #PocketPoem, just to mention two recent examples, you find search streams populated by lovers of words. A lot of pixels too ...
+Jonathan Squire thanks friend. Words are dead. Long live words. But words are worthless if they are not read. It's like the sound of a tree falling in the amazon and no one hears it. There nothing.

If you want your words to be read make it easy for me to get what you are trying to say. I have no time to waste on trying to find your intention through 500 or a 1000 words if you cannot hook me into reading it.

Many good writers of books and articles will tell you that you should spend 30% or more of your time on writing the headline.

Proper images for text rich writers are a must if they want more people to their good stuff. If on the other hand they don't want more... then.....

On Pinterest and other Image Rich Text catch phrases (called Glogs) are very popular. That's what I am trying to add to each of my posts.

Why? I have said it: I believe some people can gain from my writing and I want to make it as easy as possible by getting their attention in the shortest possible time.
I only post stuff with an image or a link that shows a nice pic

I have made quite a lot of tests since the beginning of Google+ in trying to find out which types of posts get the most attention.

- enhanced a 'boring' text with a funny image that has nothing to do with the text, as 'bait'
- used a serious image with a serious post
- used a tl;dr texted image fitting the topic, telling the gist already
- used screenshots to better bring out a link or idea that I'm sharing

+M Sinclair Stevens you're onto something when using the yellow image with text, that is a very good attention grabber. People start to expect a certain standard and it's easy to 'see' that image in the stream.
Many others use informational images with texts about the topic, especially when longer posts are concerned. This is called curating and I warmly recommend you to check out these guys: +Rahul Roy +Shamil Weerakoon and +Johan Horak. +Gabriel Vasile was one of the first to use these kinds of images to his advantage.

Funnies rule

The 'What's Hot' seems to pick up those 'funnies': Before a few months even more than now. The WH and it's content has been changed to contain more of the 'Photography' and Google / News but still there's a percentage of the lighter motif posts.

You can see for yourself how 'lighter' or life advice sharing posts with images have dominated all the time: Here are my public photo posts starting from the most popular. Just change your own ID to the URL and you can check yours. This is a great tool by +Jari Huomo.

For my thoughtful advice about G+ you have to scroll down a bit. For more serious topics there's quite a lot of scrolling to be done.

Here's another way to see the stats, in a Timeline style:

The +1:s don't show properly but that's because of a glitch in API or someplace.

Summa summarum

Like +Johan Horak wrote,
Proper images for text rich writers are a must if they want more people to their good stuff. If on the other hand they don't want more... then.....

I wholeheartedly agree, attracting NEW people is easier if the post catches the eye of many. Even the funnies serve a purpose as with those come new followers who from then on will read your more serious / advisory posts, too.
Wish I could add an image here...
Well said, +Jaana Nyström.
That is the very reason I use images for every single post.
Most often I design them myself. You would have seen that I use the same theme as Google+. the Reddish-Orange color scheme. :-)

As you said, the images of +M Sinclair Stevens uses Black & Yellow themed images to bring out the title of his posts.

Btw, great post, +M Sinclair Stevens
And, as +M Sinclair Stevens said in your comments, the new UI gives less priority for text.
People find it very hard to read the lists I make.
For example, my G+ Directory v1 spread faster (350 shares) than the G+ Directory v2.
The primary reason is even when you view a post in its permalink it is the same size that Google allocates for the post; whereas we were able to view each post in Full Screen. :-(
Thanks +Jaana Nyström. This is what I really enjoy about Google+. We spread generosity through words. Or in this case symbols. And images are just a quick way to symbolically convey a message.

+Jaana Nyström used words to spread generosity. And I am honoured to be quoted by you and add to a list of real greats using images.

I will push the idea. Because I like it. And I am have serious fun doing it. It takes more time. (But time is an illusion and I have enough of that).

BTW: My images (glogs) are also liked at Pinterest. And because I like having lots and lots of people to circle and engage with me pinners see my stuff I pin (and tweet( from here to there. And they are interested. And they tell, me here at Google+, that they saw my image there.

Thanks again my enthusiastic friend +Jaana Nyström ;-))))
It's odd that a Google representative is telling us that we should 'lighten" up and not do serious stuff without cheapening it as if it were some commercial product or talk show.

What's the damned point in posting my ideas here at all if I have to castrate them first to fit some bubble-gum, throw-away formula?

+Johan Horak, you have a point. If you have something to say, presumably you want people to read what it is. Absolutely. But it seems to me that whoring out the words via the crass lingeries of images that are now always too large and vulgar would make prefer not to say anything at all. If that is the way things evolve here, that +Dieter Mueller's eye candy 'drug' dealers and visual pimp curators peddling 10 second slap and tickle are the only ones seen as 'real' or legitimate G+ users, discussions like this one will just disappear and a boring sameness will descend on this place.

If it is true, as appears to be implied by +Jaana Nyström, that the only purpose for being here is to compete for followers and popularity rankings, none of my posts will matter anyway because I try to treat my readers as adults who are reasonably switched on an engaged with the world around them.

I don't really have a lot to say to 'gosh wow' eternal kiddies, celebrity gossips or social media narcissist superstars. Plenty of stuff for them here already.
Just to add to the chorus, I only use my "mobile" iPad for posting and reading social media. Only use desktop browser for circle management as the support for this in the IOS app is non-existent. My reaction to using browser version after 6 months before the visual "upgrade" -
I look forward to Google plus for the pithy discourse and thoughts of other users, the witty/funny/thought provoking/engaging comments and responses.
I don't engage in my everyday life only showing pictures, I revel in words, conversations, company of others, etc
Whilst having an appropriate picture is eye-catching, I stay for the words.
You've forgotten the 100-comment limit for notifications... that fabulous post of +Peter Strempel 's that you've linked has gone over the limit, and now I have to keep going back in my notifications to look for it and "manually refresh" to see if there have been further comments... obviously at over 100 comments, one is bored of the whole conversation and wants out...
Huh, whut, +Daniela Huguet Taylor? Really? Notifications cut out after 100 comments? Whose bright idea was that?

Hmmm. I suppose I should be grateful that people aren't bored at one or two comments, especially since there aren't any cat gifs ...
Well, for the typical What's Hot post, where you get 500 LOl and "cool" comments, about 100 of them often suffice, I guess the motivation was that one... which is why I think that asking g+ superstars about their case use is not too good...
+Daniela Huguet Taylor You know, dear lady, that I don't begrudge the cat gif people their LOL cats, or the superstars their ROFL comments. I just wish us wordsmiths weren't quite such poor second cousins in the Googleverse.

It's like our fellows here think of us as somehow black, or Hispanic, or women, or some other discriminated-against category ... oh ... wait ... there's actually lots of us who are black and Hispanic and women.

Maybe that's what it was all along. Quick, let's all change our Google identities to pretend we are actually Califiornian gadget-toting, white, LOLling teenagers with cats! Maybe then we'll get a fair shake ...? Naaah. Never happen.
Thanks +Peter Strempel. These comment interactions you can't do with pictures as, funny enough, you can't paste pictures into comments on G+! Thanks +M Sinclair Stevens to for writing these thoughtful posts. 
Yeah, +dawn ahukanna, I often wondered why you can't do more than one pic per thread, but I guess it has to do with some tech limitation, or maybe concern about clutter. It would be nice to have the option for one pic per post in a thread, though, wouldn't it?
+Peter Strempel Would be nice to be able to put appropriate screenshots or pictures in comments but images can take up more space than the thousand words they are supposed to replace 😝.
At the moment, can't post pictures from iPad as I only have the option to upload my entire set of pictures from my device as opposed to a select few.
So I continue to wordsmith on my touchscreen, mobile device.
+dawn ahukanna that was the main reason I opted for the Asus Transformer tablet... a fantastic keyboard that makes it act like a netbook and allows me to actually type instead of dabbing at the screen.
+Dieter Mueller LOL.
There's no chance this post is going to give ideas about more visual web as it is already over 10 comments long and comments more than three letters long.
+Daniela Huguet Taylor I was unaware of the 100 comment limitation in Notifications. Killing conversation indeed! People already have a tool for muting a post in notifications. The choice to mute puts me, the user, in the control and communicates a strong cause-effect relationship between my setting and the machine's behavior. So, once again, Google+ second guesses my choice and decides something else is better for me? And doesn't tell me or let me override the default.
+M Sinclair Stevens Consume. Be quiet! Look at the cute kitty. Silence! Adore the SUL. Shut up, I said! Adore the celeb. Don't speak! Worship the cool people. Don't bother thinking, we'll do that for you!
I'm surprised how many people interpret my lament for words as a declaration of war on pictures. It is not. My desire for Google+ is to keep it as multi-purpose as possible. It began as a tool where a post could be anything.

The only limits to what we can create with a good tool should be our imagination.
+Peter Strempel I did have another paragraph in the original about the narcotic effect of the visual web, the new opiate to keep the masses dulled and quiet. Your comment expresses it better.

As I documented in an earlier thread, I've encountered many people on Google+ who feel that they have suddenly found their voice. It's as if the exchange of ideas has awakened something inside them that they had tamped down for a long time. That's the experience I'm arguing for.

As for my marketing copy, I have to keep some larger goal in mind or all this just becomes whining. And it must have worked. You are signed up. You are here. You are writing.
While a certain segmentation of the online social media may be image driven, +M Sinclair Stevens, I think that this is simply another transition in communication. Humanity has traveled through time from oral, to writing, to Gutenberg, to the creation of cinema, TV the Internet and smartphones! It's incredible!

In education and neuroscience circles, what we find is that the brain has the same need and demand for learning, communication and meaning. The vectors have changed, but not the essentials. The natural cycle of learning always begins with personal context and revolves to gaining facts, applying them and then making them your own. Today there is such a variety of tools for communication. Using them well will define a whole new generation of communicators.

Personally, I read, write, and communicate more, and to a wider and richer network that is not limited to one country. It's so rich. On +Google+ it is possible to connect so many resources in one place. I'm just beginning to fully gasps what is possible!
“I’m surprised how many people interpret my lament for words as a declaration of war on pictures” I had to read a lot of words before I got to this! Thank you +M Sinclair Stevens I am both a passionate reader of words and a passionate viewer of pictures. Is this so odd? In addition, when I’ve time, I like to delve into a long debate and discuss for hours. At other times I prefer to relax after a 14 hour work day and some light humour is in order. I’ve used the ‘menu’ analogy before where sometimes we just want appetisers/desserts instead of the main course. G+ enables us to view the à la carte menu and choose for ourselves.
+Shamil Weerakoon the old UI already gave preference for images over text (compare old photo share size to old post pic for post share). Also, there was never even a mid-sized headline option for text/markdown.

(The experiments mentioned by +Jaana Nyström seem to bear this out BTW.)

The new UI just exacerbated the bias. As +M Sinclair Stevens said, I am also NOT complaining against photos and the photog community, only against preferential treatment by Google. And the problem with entitlement bred by preferential treatment is, the entitled will typically begin to see it as normal, and react either non-plussed ("what do you mean it's not fair?") or very negatively to any suggestion of more fairness.

In regards to Male/White cultural domination, this is called "Privilege" in the feminist literature. The fish doesn't know it's in water...
+Daniela Huguet Taylor oh wow, I hadn't heard about the new 100 comment cut-off thing either, is this officially confirmed somewhere? (I know there have been several posts in the last few weeks where Notifications mysteriously stopped and I thought it was merely a bug)
+Dieter Mueller re:images in comments, they already have them on Facebook, so it must be OK for Google to do... :) In all honesty, I've seen examples e.g. in comment threads on where the images are actually additive to the conversation at times, and break up the monotony. Only gripe would be that their display size is once again too large.

Whoever came up with the old saw "a picture is worth a thousand words" either also meant, or should have meant, that a picture may take up the space of a thousand words.
I have received notifications from busy threads all the way until they reached the 500 comment limit. But there are other factors which may reduce notifications like having them stop after a while if you're not one of the participants. If that's inconsistent with other people's experience, I'd like to know more.
I read it somewhere, and then I noticed it happened to me... let me do a search... obviously, I'm talking about not-your-own-post, btw.
I like images, pictures, photos, videos... visual stuff. I like humor & witty captions. I know it catches the eye, it draws attention in a flood of things competing for our attention. So what do I do? I add images when I feel like it. I don't when I don't. Sometimes they'll grab more attention, sometimes I have less attention. So are my words lost when I failed to grab attention? I'll get over it.
Because if I can gather people that can have quality interactions with me and we can grow mutual trust and respect, when I really need quality feedback, I'll be able to ask them for it.

Is it really so hard to imagine certain people (personality types) that really really do not want to see their number of followers grow and grow and grow? So why then do I bother and am I here? I'm networking for interesting people, to discuss ideas and exchange insights and experiences that enrich our lives. I can't handle an ever growing number of such people. I don't care for broadcasting and influence if I can no longer follow up the quality interactions. I want to get a high number of followers once sure, so I can know what it's like, how it works, what it allows to do. In other words, I'd like it for better understanding, through personal experience.
Why not? But if I'll ever get it, it will have been my way.

Now the thing with me: once I understand it, I move on. That high number? I'll most likely sabotage it again myself, to regain my freedom and pursue other things I want to understand. I don't judge anyone that wants this any other way, because I understand people can be different.

TL;DR: I'll add images when I feel like adding images, whatever Google comes up with. Whatever anyone thinks of it.
I have a great idea... why not use and make graphic pictures of of your words?

Then you can be doing both things and be happy!
I've definitely found other posts commenting the 100-comment limit, but nothing official. But I've noticed it happen to me, not only on one thread, but several I've followed that far, so it's not like it's unfounded rumour, at least in my case.
+Ronnie Bincer So if I give you a 5000 word essay, you'll turn it into pretty pictures that still make sense? You're joking right? If you're not, I'd have to assume you're insulting us all.
+Peter Strempel took +Ronnie Bincer's suggestion to its reductio ad absurdum and, in so doing, got at the real issue here. It's not about pictures vs. words, or whether words are "dead," or whatever. It's the fact that the emphasis on images combined with the quick-fix nature of other social networks has created a de-emphasis on complex well-thought-out ideas, the kind that won't fit into a 200x300 infographic or a Tweet.

I know of too few contributors on Google+ who regularly post well-thought-out, original content. +Peter Strempel is one of them. You can maybe get a snappy headline, like in the graphic attached to this post, but most of the time, the idea presented is too complex for a quickie gif. After all, if it could be expressed any simpler, the post wouldn't be so long!
+Peter Strempel What if you think of +Ronnie Bincer 's word cloud as just the ad for your post? If the tool favors a graphic, why shouldn't we pervert that favoritism and use it to our advantage? Do you mind it when I do it with my yellow and black banner?
+M Sinclair Stevens: I don't mind your banner, but neither would I mind it if it weren't there. I probably would have read the post anyway.

I don't think word clouds will work, because they're too data-dense. Seeing what words are used a lot doesn't necessarily give you a good abstract of what the point of the post might be.
+Jon Eric Agreed. It's not a replacement for an abstract. But you can make you own abstract and put it into a graphic, if that's what you prefer to do. Since the graphic gets preferential treatment on the post, we should fill it with words. This is my personal form of protest. No one need follow me.
+Ronnie Bincer btw, text in images is also (typically) not indexable, which is pretty ironic, given that this is Google we're talking about...
+M Sinclair Stevens +Jon Eric Look guys, sorry if you think it's off, but I do find it offensive when I encounter some kind of smart-arsed bullshit suggestion that I should pimp or package my ideas in meaningless eye candy boxes. I really can't be diplomatic about that and actually have any respect for what I write.

The black on yellow works, but is too deep. It made me experiment with word graphics myself, and I may yet use them, albeit with narrower vertical depth. The Bincer word cloud thingo might have some potential in that regard too. I don't know yet. I have an instinctive aversion to Java applets that try to spawn a console on my system.
+Peter Strempel A height (depth?) of 950 pixels is as shallow as I could go before the dreaded black bar effect.

In terms of lines displayed per post in stream view, including no graphic gives the best result.

I have to admit that I would be intrigued to see how you might whore "out the words via the crass lingeries of images". My mind just tripped over the word lingerie and went reeling.

But don't whore, Peter. We count on you to uphold the standard. The bottom line is we must each do what we want to attract the audience we want. I don't want to attract the audience which votes up the "What's Hot" posts. So I'm not going to follow any advice that tells me how to do that.
+M Sinclair Stevens If you make the graphic 500px wide, and whatever depth you want, do the black bars still show? I thought this content column had a fixed width across all screen resolutions.

You don't get to see me in a basque with stockings and high heels, my friend. There are some things I just won't do.
+Peter Strempel I don't know. I just played around until something worked and then stopped. The Photos app provides a Golden Ratio clip setting which seems to be Google+'s preferred setting for graphics (although it's not the default) -- preferred meaning that it's the most effective for avoiding black bars on the side or bottom. (2048x1266). I reduced my background photo to 2048x950. Shorter than that, I get a black bar across the bottom.

I was annoyed to discover that although Vic touts the fact that photos bleed to the edge, when I look at my "Words Are Dead" graphic in the Notification window, part of the "d" is chopped off. It looks like "Words are Deao" to me. Does it to anyone else?
Yeah, +M Sinclair Stevens it does bleed, if Vic meant 'bleeding right off the fucking edge of the screen. Do me a favour, do a dummy post, maybe just to me, with a graphic no wider than 500px.
OK, so I've shared the offline graphic with Daniela, let's wait and see what it looks like on her hand-held.
So here it is: the design rationale from Google itself.

Some selective snippets from the article, which quotes and paraphrases Google+ lead designer Fred Gilbert -

The new Google+ has larger photos and videos than before, which span almost edge-to-edge across user posts. People like pretty pictures, so the idea works.

_... is most certainly the option to share just about however much text you like. Facebook and Twitter both impose substantial character limitations, but on Google+, users can publish longer, richer content. _

“To optimize for quick consumption, this is the size that works for us.” [about images and videos]

Yet, if there’s one thing that defines the Google+ redesign, it might be all this spaciousness--empty air--namely a massive, unbalanced void of white space on the righthand side of the page. “Yes it’s on purpose. Yes we have things coming,” laughs Gilbert. “And we’re moving as fast as we can to make those things happen.”

There we have it. People like pretty pics, and writers shut shut the fuck up because we give them unlimited characters (that we hide) to rabbit on in their heathen, non graphic-designery-wankerism literary ways.

But more to come. Fear or joy?
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