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Soraj Hongladarom
1,271 followers -
Teacher, philosopher, musician
Teacher, philosopher, musician

1,271 followers
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The decline and fall of Google+

Back in 2011, Google was feeling under threat from Facebook. They decided to create Google+, and put Vic Gundotra in charge. He said:

We’re transforming Google itself into a social destination at a level and scale that we’ve never attempted — orders of magnitude more investment, in terms of people, than any previous project.

But it didn't work:

"It was clear if you looked at the per user metrics, people weren’t posting, weren't returning and weren’t really engaging with the product," says one former employee. "Six months in, there started to be a feeling that this isn’t really working."

The question is just how Google can extricate itself without losing face. Here's part of the story:

By early 2014, less than three years after its big launch, the Google+ team had moved out of its coveted building to a spot on campus further from Page. Gundotra announced his departure from the company that April — in a Google+ post, of course — to pursue "a new journey."

Throughout Gundotra's tenure running social at Google, he alternately inspired and polarized his own employees and irritated other departments by encroaching on their fiefdoms with various Google+ efforts, according to multiple sources who worked with him. Gundotra's proximity to Page may have shielded him, but that could only last so long with the Google+ "ghost town" narrative and user backlash from the forced integration with YouTube.

More than a year after leaving Google, Gundotra has yet to announce that next stop on his journey. Two former colleagues say Gundotra is still mostly traveling and relaxing. "He's too young to retire," one associate says. "He'll go on to do something else."

David Besbris, who helped launch the social network with Gundotra, took over as head of Google+ and claimed that Google was committed to "social... for the long haul." Six months after making that statement, he was replaced in the top spot by Bradley Horowitz, a longtime Google executive.

The buried news in the Horowitz announcement: Google had begun referring to its social operations as "Google Photos and Streams." In Horowitz's blog post this week, that name expanded to "Streams, Photos, and Sharing." By rebranding in this way, Google can separate the failure of "Streams" — the feed activity that most associate with a social network — from the more successful features bundled with it.

"I’ve concluded that it’s time for a 'pivot'... or more precisely time to talk more openly about a pivot that’s been underway for some time (and in fact is reflected in the name of the new team)," Horowitz wrote on Monday, announcing the end of requiring a Google+ account to use Google products. "Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired."

Translation: Google+ is shifting from a Facebook clone to more of a Pinterest lookalike to see if it can build momentum. At the same time, Google is investing resources to build more standalone social products like the Photos app, which has generated plenty of positive press.

"I don't think that owning a pure-play social network is important for Google at this point, but having a connection to social is important," says Brian Blau, an analyst who covers Internet companies for Gartner.

If and when the Google+ brand is phased, as many we spoke with expect, Google won't need to say it killed Google+. Several years from now, when nobody is paying attention, a Google employee can just publish a long list of features that have been done away with as part of a routine spring cleaning. Halfway down that list, an astute reader will see the word "Streams."

This story is from 2015. Around then, Google+ started downplaying 'circles' and getting weird bugs, which presumably don't get fixed because nobody in Google uses Google+.

It's too bad, because at the start felt Google+ was an exciting place: the place Facebook should be but isn't. But weirdos like me were never relevant to Google's plans for world domination. So, as Google+ twitched around frantically trying to appeal to more people, it got less interesting to my friends and me. Now that most of them are gone, I hang around mainly out of habit. The reason is that I haven't found a social media platform I like better.

But the upshot is actually good, for me at least! I'm spending more time working with my grad students - I've got 6 of them, so that's easily a full-time job. I also have a project going with a company, and a lot of online friends. So these days, instead of explaining stuff here, I'm more likely to spend half an hour in the morning sending people technical emails about math and physics. That turns out to be more satisfying.

It's not a complete substitute, because I like explaining stuff in a public forum. But I only like it if get interesting feedback, and I only like it if I feel some of my friends are listening.

My change in habits is also connected to Trump and his army of trolls. These days, when I post about politics or global warming, I start by getting interesting comments, but then people start to fight, and then, when the post gets a lot of +1s, the conversation gets swamped by blueheads: nasty people without real profiles. I got sick of dealing with this, so now I post without allowing comments. So, what was once a discussion forum now seems better as a place to merely broadcast my views. Sad.

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APOD: 2017 July 15 - Close up of the Great Red Spot

Image Credit: NASA, Juno, SwRI, MSSS, Gerald Eichstadt, Sean Doran

On July 11, the Juno spacecraft once again swung near to Jupiter's turbulent cloud tops in its looping 53 day orbit around the Solar System's ruling gas giant. About 11 minutes after perijove 7, its closest approach on this orbit, it passed directly above Jupiter's Great Red Spot. During the much anticipated fly over, it captured this close-up image data from a distance of less than 10,000 kilometers. The raw JunoCam data was subsequently processed by citizen scientists. Very long-lived but found to be shrinking, the Solar System's largest storm system was measure to be 16,350 kilometers wide on April 15. That's about 1.3 times the diameter of planet Earth.

Larger image: http://buff.ly/2tw54yL
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Tardigrades will survive the risk of extinction from all astrophysical catastrophes, and be around for at least 10 billion years – far longer than the human race.

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Consciousness - Toughest Problem in Universe?

"Professor Chalmers, who was born in Sydney and brought up in Adelaide, today works out of New York University and is one of the world's pre-eminent philosophers of mind, best known for breathing new life into an old conundrum. He calls it the hard problem of consciousness."

"Simply put, the hard problem asks the following question: how can the machinery of the brain (the neurons and synapses) produce consciousness — the colours that we see, for example, or the sounds that we hear?"

"We're not going to reduce consciousness to something physical ... it's a primitive component of the universe,"

#consciousness #psychology #transpersonal #davidchalmers


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The Juno Spacecraft acquired the image on May 19, 2017, at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST) from an altitude of about 20,800 miles (33,400 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops.

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“Our measurements show that the growth of Jupiter can be dated using the distinct genetic heritage and formation times of meteorites.”
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