I was just chatting with my old friend +Chris Messina
and sort of going on and on about how impressed I am with Google+ so far. Thought I'd share some of those thoughts here so +Vic Gundotra
, +Bradley Horowitz
and the rest of the team could enjoy the compliment too.
By way of background, you should know that I really like Facebook. I think there has been lots of innovation there over the years, and I admire the team they've assembled and the way they build software. I also think that they really are working from a playbook that is user-centric. Having had the pleasure of talking product design with Mark several times over the years, I've always found him to be a thoughtful product guy who is very focused on making his user's lives better. They may push the envelope in ways that make people uncomfortable, but I've never found anyone there to be even the slightest bit evil.
I'm also a big fan of Twitter. I was never a blogger but I've enjoyed having a a little 140 character voice to the small audience that I've accumulated there. Twitter's usually the first app I launch when I wake up in the morning.
So, I wasn't searching for new "social tools" when Google+ came along. Not at all.
The interesting thing for me about Google+ is not really how it's similar to these other mediums, but how it's different. I love the asymmetric follow model. It seems completely natural that I might want to "follow" some interesting silicon valley type (say, +Andy Hertzfeld
) that I don't have any real world relationship to. He shouldn't have to reciprocate for that to be possible. Twitter of course got this (and lots of other things) right, but Twitter hits a wall for me for the cases where I want to say more than what 140 characters allows -- or in the cases where characters aren't the right form of expression at all (say pictures, music, or videos are a better fit). Mix in a really compelling real time commenting system and a community that (at least for now) respects one another and it's a potent combination. At least to me, all these details come together in a way that feels entirely new.
More delightful though, is the thoughtful execution -- both in terms of design but also in terms of the way this has been handed to the first batch of users.
I'm incredibly sensitive to little aesthetic and functional details. It's just hard for me to fall in love with a product where the little details aren't polished. It's such a delight to get something from Google where you can just tell that there was tremendous attention to detail.
But the really big thing
is the way that the Google+ team is participating in all of this. Every time I tune into a post, there are folks from the Google team participating, listening, taking feedback and each time they seem to do it with a kind of humility that's really hard in practice. Imagine for example that the 120th person tells you that the comment "bounce" issue is driving them wild. Imagine they then follow up with their idea about how to address it (ahem, if you dig back into my stream you'll find a post where I did just that). The thing is that these guys understand the problems. They've talked for hours about these things and about the various solutions. They've probably kicked my solution around and thought of the 10 reasons it won't work. It's so tempting in that case to say "Yeah, it's a problem, but we thought about your solution and here's why it won't work." It's so much harder
to say "that's a great idea; let me take it back to the team." And yet, every time, that's how the Google folks are taking our ideas.
This is how the best startup teams interact with their fledgling communities. I'm not sure I've ever seen it on this scale from a big company. I'm more than impressed. Well done Google. Thanks for letting us hang out here early. Looking forward to letting the rest of our friends in so we can really see where this totally new