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Rob Gordon
Small Business Community Organizer
Small Business Community Organizer

Rob Gordon's posts

Anyone one caught "comment spamming" here will be banned from this community. I am talking about the completely off-topic advertising and scam like promotions we have been seeing in the comments here lately. We are here for intelligent business discussions, not to provide a platform for your selfish needs. Take this comment spam crap elsewhere.

+Rebecca Quinn
+Aleta Curry
+Mike Villeneuve

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for your future grandkids when they ask "what was 2017 like"?

Spot on - from @KashannKilson's Tweet:

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What's going on in your community? I spent all last week in downtown San Diego volunteering for San Diego Startup Week. It was really quite a production - Multiple venues, classes and presentations from 8AM to 5PM every day, lots of parties and special events. I have a few disagreements with the startup community here - I think it is maybe a bit too "investor driven" and focused on "rapid growth" startups with almost no emphasis on self-employed or independent business. Still, I have to admit this was fun, and certainly entertaining. The pic below is from one of the parties - on a garage rooftop in downtown San Diego - now you have to admit that is pretty cool.

So my question is, what is going on in your community - wherever you might be in this big world? Are you involved or would you like to be? Are there things that you think could be done in your city or town that is not being done now. Have you ever thought about helping to organize community development activities? Any thoughts on community building for that included not just startups, but also the self-employed and small business? Always interested in hearing from smaller towns and cities, and our many members here in different countries. 

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Don't buy it! I bought an undersized laptop - big mistake.

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Comment on original please.
Losing My Patience with Google+

Over the last six months or so I have watched as the quality of engagement here on Google+ has steadily declined. I have watched my follower count fluctuate and flatline. I have watched as people I used to engage with quite a bit here have left or dramatically scaled back their investments of time here. And yes, I have seen my own enthusiasm for investing time here wane significantly.

I ask myself why and the answers are never as simple as I would like. In the end though, I have come to the sad conclusion that the real thing that is killing Google+ is just plain bad management.

Lack of Attention
One gets the real sense that many of the people now charged with running Google+ don't really understand what it was that once made this service so good in its early days. Indeed, one gets the sense that few of the people managing the service today even really use Google+. There are a few noteworthy exceptions like +Yonatan Zunger and +Leo Deegan, of course. I once made a circle with some 50+ Googlers who were once active here, and when I click on that stream, well, it feels a lot like a ghost town.

+Bradley Horowitz, the VP in charge of Streams, Photos and Sharing, (which is where Google+ sits within the Google org structure) hasn't posted here on Google+ in half a year.

Oh, and remember +Luke Wroblewski, who used to manage Google+ and would send out all those updates on the redesign? Well, he hasn't posted a single thing here in over 7 weeks (even though @lukew is quite active on Twitter). You know why? I just happened to check his LinkedIn profile, and he's apparently no longer managing Google+. I don't recall seeing any announcement of this change - just a sudden silence from the man perhaps most responsible for the UI makeover of Google+.

Rudderless and Un-resourced
That decision to remake the Google+ UI followed a long string of decisions going back to the separation of Photos and Hangouts, each of which have seriously hurt the service. I know there were probably some good reasons to move to the new, mobile-dominant (as opposed to "mobile-friendly") UI, but the lack of enduser empathy from deprecating all the old functionality really was pretty staggering. Much of it hasn't come back, and much of what has is so stripped down (e.g. Events, community moderation) that it isn't really that usable.

As users, we have been asked to be patient and to have faith in the new strategy. Because I have been such a huge fan of Google+ for so long, that is exactly what I have done. I've been patient. I've believed. Believed that some big, cool fix was coming down the pike that would not only fix all the problems caused by the UI decision, but actually start innovating again with some cool new functionality.

Yes, we got Collections, and they actually are quite useful even if they do need a lot of work still. But that's really about it. It's been a couple years now and the silence is stultifying.

And finally, it hit me:

Maybe this is it. Maybe Google has significantly curtailed its investments in this network. Maybe the management squandered the scarce resources it did have on a redesign that users weren't really even asking for. And maybe, just maybe, what we see right now is pretty much what we're going to get.

User Investments
And this is where I start to get really mad. Like many others here, I have invested a lot of personal time and energy building a following here. Like many of you, I have poured heart and soul into filling this place not just with great content, but also with a sense of community. I could have made those investments in Twitter or Facebook or reddit, but like many of you, I made them here. And now I'm starting to wonder how smart of a decision that was.

All of this is particularly raw right now because I'm starting to play around a bit with the new distributed social network called Mastodon ( It's far from perfect, but one thing that is very different is that it is open source and federated, rather than centrally owned and controlled.

There are lots of implications to this different model. For one, there is lots of competition and innovation in the works because Mastodon sits on top of GNU Social and rests within a "Fediverse" of related, and interoperable, social network platforms. They are working on solutions that make it easy to export your content from one platform to another - to prevent lock-in. Also, there is a lot of visibility on exactly what investments are being made in the platform by various contributors.

More importantly though, there is a very conscious understanding that the value of these networks is only partially the result of the software developers behind these solutions. Just as much of it lies with the end users.

In the end, this is the thing that I am most frustrated about right now with Google+. End users have made this place every bit as much as the coders and product planners behind Google+. This isn't to in any way diminish the importance of those contributions. But what I do find frustrating is the way that Google seems to regularly dismiss the importance, and the real economic and social value, of end user contributions. This was true with Google Reader, and sadly it appears to be true with Google+.

I'm still rooting for Google+ to turn things around, of course. I have a huge soft spot for this place, given all the great learning I've done here with my fellow travelers. But one thing is clear: I'm losing my patience, and I don't think I'm alone. 

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Wonderful idea +Rebecca Quinn - especially given the downturn in retail, but don't ask for opinions and then close comments on your post :-)

btw - is it just you and me, or does there seem to be more interest in rural America these days?
Love this idea! And not just for small towns either. As a matter of fact, it could be more important in a high rent, urban city. I live near a couple of similar concept stores that are full of products from local businesses and artists. It'd be great to see this done with more kinds of products, especially more necessities.

I see it as a blend of business accelerator, coop, coworking, food court ... but for retail. Who says we must follow the old models these days? We need to innovate at a time when retail faces extreme competition from online sales, and a loss of consumers whose primary goal is to constantly buy more stuff.

Plus I bet we could do this with lots of business types ... services, B2B ... what do you think?

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Did I ever show you guys a picture of my staircase?

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Arr matey - me want

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Well I'm impressed

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Minimalist Drawing. I have been toying with the idea of learning to draw, even though I have no natural talent. The nice thing about getting older is that you can keep leaning stuff even though you know you will never be great at it, so there is no pressure.

Update: I did not make this drawing and didn't intend to imply that I did. It is signed but I don't know the original artist. 
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