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Blaine Cook
11,942 followers
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Will definitely be trying this soon.

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For those who have been following my posts on what Google Plus means, this post from +Paul Adams is essential reading.

tl;dr: It's just the beginning.

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"Sheep worrying is an offence."
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This picture totally proves that +Tom Coates is totally wrong (I still <3 you, Tom!) about social networks. Note especially the number of views on the photo. There is only one view after one week. On a photo of me making spaghetti with my hands. Compare that with this photo https://plus.google.com/photos/113651174506128852447/albums/posts/5624357001394325106 that was posted to Plus yesterday.

Flickr hasn't suddenly become worse at hosting photos. My friends haven't suddenly become disinterested in food. Nope, it's just that Flickr has become a ghost town. People (like me) still post photos there, but no-one is watching.

Fixing the front page, as +timoni west put it very well (http://blog.timoni.org/post/5557930029/the-most-important-page-on-flickr) might have a great effect. I doubt it, though. As someone who posts photos, I care more that my photos go to where my friends are looking at photos than I do how my friends are looking at photos. Of course, I want the sociality to come back to where I post my photos.

I don't want to post a photo to Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Plus, and everywhere else that my friends are looking at photos, and then have to manage a fragmented conversation.

Plus is great, and it moves the conversation around design and the social dynamics of online interaction forward an incredible amount. It also underscores the extent to which the systems we've created are totally broken.

tl;dr: Either we were all suffering a massive shared delusion and Flickr actually sucks, or something is really broken with the way that we've structured online social interaction. Evidence: I've had only one view on a photo of making spaghetti with my hands in a week on Flickr. A photo of an ice lolly has 26 comments and 15 likes after one day on Plus.
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It's notable that it's incredibly difficult to see people who are in your circles, but who haven't added you back. This is intentional; the social signalling is "don't worry about it; add whomever you want, or remove whomever you want."

This thing's been designed to supplant Facebook but also blogs, Twitter, everything. The more people use it to watch the circles they care about (fashion, art, friends, news), the more valuable sparks becomes (c.f. big data). Ads on sparks? Yes. Suggested results in "people" search? Yes. Google hasn't forgotten about the money.

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A few initial thoughts:

As everyone else has commented, the amount of polish applied to Plus is remarkable, and the scope and vision of the project is beyond compare. Serious kudos to everyone who's worked on it.

I'm surprised more people haven't referenced Paul Adams' work (linked below); it's clearly a very strong influence on Plus, and a very welcome one. Notably, Paul is now at Facebook.

As others (+Natalie Downe, +Ariel Waldman, +Tom Coates) have commented, the stream of mixed media is very similar to Pownce or FriendFeed, as well as Buzz. The mixed feed killed both those products; it's a mode that rewards constant attention (c.f., all the people, including myself who stayed up late playing), but punishes casual engagement. The circles, like lists on Twitter, will help reduce the noise and thus encourage both sharing and reading.

The approach to configuring circles is by far the best approach to grouping friends we've ever seen in an online forum. It's a lot of work, though, and we'll have to wait to see if people will actually do it. If it turns out that users still won't organise their social graph in an active way, then Plus might well fail as Pownce and FriendFeed before it. Privacy concerns abound, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last of concerns relating to re-sharing of content.

I also worry that there's not much fun here, compared to Instagram, FourSquare, or Tumblr. What's the hook? Why am I here? I feel like I'm being asked to sit down and relax in front of a big industrial river, when what I'd really like to do is find a quiet stream where I can feel really comfortable. Again, circles, but again, we'll see.

So, of course, the $100 billion question is: What does the developer platform look like? How do richly innovative new social forms (turntable.fm, songkick, lyst, for example) take advantage or contribute to the powerful concept of circles?

And, of course (hey, I'll be here all week), there's the question of cooperation versus competition – I'm not going to drop Flickr until it's dead dead dead (please don't die, Flickr), so how does that work? Can I share my Flickr photos with people on Plus? Will it work, or have +Joseph Smarr and +Chris Messina forsaken us?

I'm betting they and the rest of the Plus team haven't forsaken us, and that what we've seen of Plus so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Here's hoping, anyhow!

Again: well played, friends-and-others-at-Google, well played.

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Blaine Cook changed his profile photo.
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