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Jens “Google Plus Yoda” Graikowski
574,670 followers -
Living on a sub-tropical island, enjoying the scenery.
Living on a sub-tropical island, enjoying the scenery.

574,670 followers
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The changes of life
I'm outta here. Peace ya'll.

For quite some time I've been debating with myself to drop #GooglePlus (and most other social media activity, for that matter). My life has changed, my priorities have shifted.

One reason is, that G+ was nice while it lasted, but has finally become the #ghosttown everybody called it from the start and I just don't have the energy (or motivation) anymore to waste time on posts that get almost no interaction whatsoever.

The other, that I spend far more time now enjoying real life. I've realised that making real friends on G+ is just an illusion and though I have made some astonishing connections with people here, they're mostly temporary. I sometimes think I've lost more friends here than I made (yes, I know that's not possible).

Finding interesting content is also getting more and more difficult on this #socialmediaplatform. Due to extensive changes within the platform all my old systems to organise my circle stream don't work anymore and I just lack the energy to start all over again and again. Technical changes have also made G+ less and less attractive to me over time. Maybe I'm getting too old to take 180° policy changes very well anymore. When I now want content tailored to my interests I go to #Flipboard rather than scrolling through my G+stream for hours to pick out the few gems.

I'll check in on my stream occasionally (when I don't have anything better to do), but my posting days are over. I'll spend some more time on the other large social network to keep up with the lives of my RL friends, but generally speaking I'm outta #socialmedia, but not without thanking all those wonderful people who made Google+ an amazing place at the very beginning (some of them seem to have moved on as well).

+Vic Gundotra​​ without whom there would be no G+.
+chee chew​ without whom there wouldn't be any hangouts (the former killer feature of G+)
+Natalie Villalobos​​ who looked after us plussers so lovingly in the very beginning.

And there are other (mostly former) members of the Google+team, too many to mention.

Than there are those who are (or used to be), like me, G+evangelists and who, like me, spent countless hours (mostly in the middle of the night) to make Google+ a better place. Among many, my special thanks go out to +Jaana Nyström​, +Alex Garcia​, +John Elstone​​, +Ayoub Khote​, +John Skeats​, +Kamal Tailor​ and so many other Google+ninjas.

And last but not least those fantastic peeps I had closer, more privat relationships with, almost bordering on real friendship. We've had amazing hangouts in the very beginning of G+ and I've experienced some real support when times where bad. Unfortunately some (most) of them have also moved on or have become strangers. +James Pakele​, +Dusan Vrban​, +Russell Deasley​, +Floyd Canfield​, +Frank Garufi Jr.​, +Dolidh Young​, +Robert Anderson​, +Tom Rolfson​ and hundreds more.

And so it'll be for the last time in the foreseeable future, "May the Plus be with you",
+Jens Graikowski​
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Multi account support for Google Home
The new killer feature opens the door for many more goodies to come.

#Google starts rolling out multi user support for #GoogleHome. Those who already have it can now link up to six accounts to their voice controlled assistants and the Home will tell them apart just by their voices. This should smooth the way for so many other nice features like setting reminders and adding entries to each user's calendar. This is a great step forward for Google Home and will definitely set it apart from its competition.

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski​

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Is it the end of an era?

It's an interesting coincidence, that I read this post at a time when I plan to drop G+ entirely. Thank you, +George Station​, for bringing it to my attention.

When I first started at Google+ what attracted me most was the almost RL like relationships one had with other plussers and the Google+ team. I left Facebook because I couldn't find that there. In those olden days we had occasional hangouts even with top dogs like +Vic Gundotra​​ (then head of Google+) and +chee chew​​ (then head of hangouts). With wonderful people like (then) G+ community manager +Natalie Villalobos​​ those hangouts were far more frequent. Like +Gideon Rosenblatt​​ says. Very few of the new bunch are even using G+, not talking about interacting with the end user. If +Google​ doesn't believe in its own product, why should anybody else?

Also the interaction between plussers is nothing to write home about anymore. I used to ramble on to anybody who wanted to hear it (and those who didn't) how wonderful the community is,how G+friends are just like friends in RL. No, they are not. Of most of my old friends I don't even hear anymore. I used to get tons of birthday wishes in the first few years. This year I got three and those of people I don't even know (I still do appreciate them).

Most people I know have moved on. Funny enough, many went back to Facebook. +Google+​might not yet be a ghost town, but it's on its way. It used to be that what you invested you got back, but nowadays the amount of energy one has to invest is in no relation to the return.

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski

#GooglePlus #Google
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 (https://mastodon.technology/@gideonro). 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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The new Google Earth
A long overdue update on one of my favourite Google apps.

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski

H/t: +John Elstone

#GoogleEarth #Google

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My lunch break
I hate to love animal parks.

Had a great couple of hours again today when I spent my lunch break in our local animal park (which is the second best #animalpark in the world, according to TripAdvisor). I don't pay entry, so I can afford to just go in for an hour or two from time to time. I always do so with mixed feelings.

I'm eagerly awaiting the day when #virtualreality (another hobby of mine) will make zoos obsolete. With my #VR goggles I'm already able to swim with white sharks and sit in the middle of a pack of lions. The time will come when #VRtechnology will be able to replace animal parks entirely, but until then they have the very important task to introduce the #animal world to us humans. Let's hope the day will come soon that they'll only be needed as #breeding installations to save certain animals from #extinction. All animals belong in the wild. Once we'll all be able to observe them out there (and not just the lucky few who do so professionally or have the money to go on safaris on a regular basis) via VR technology I'll be the first to hold up my "get rid of all zoos" sign, but until then I'm glad they exist, so the little boy next door learns about animals and the dangers they face (mainly from us humans) on his school trip to the local #zoo and the Amur leopards (and so many other species) get saved from extinction because of breeding programs in animal facilities all over the world.

And so I can have the best of all lunch breaks, of course. 😁😉

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski​
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4/16/17
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Roll on 18 Wheeler
Elon Musk announces an electric semi-truck, a pick up truck and a convertible roadster.

Being a truck driver and technology freak this is great news. I also believe that electric cars are the future, so what's not to like about an electric 18 wheeler and a roadster?

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski

#electriccar #Tesla #ElonMusk #semitruck #pickuptruck #convertible #roadster

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Into the sun

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski

#sunset
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4/13/17
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Google Home just became LESS useful
Shopping lists won't get saved in Google Keep anymore.

The first #GoogleHome I bought was for the bedroom. I loved the fact that I could control my lights (via #SmartThings), turn my TV on/off (via #AnyMote) pause videos, etc. When I (in my boundless excitement) wanted to buy another one of those voice controlled assistants for the living room I had my wife to convince first. After all I had to import the devices from the states which is not exactly cheap. My main selling point was, that she could do the #shoppinglist via voice now, since the Home in the living room would be within talking distance of the kitchen. This shopping list was saved in #GoogleKeep which not only made it easily shareable and accessible via widgets on the home screen of our phones, but I could also access it from my #smartwatch. Thanks to the infinite wisdom of some +Google​ decision maker or other this is now at an end.

As of yesterday the #GoogleAssistant shopping list is not saved in Google Keep anymore, but in Google Home and #GoogleExpress. Though I do understand the motivation behind it (#Google after all wants to make money with their devices and therefore needs to make it easier for users to do their shopping at Google Express), but that was a kick in the teeth for all those who don't use Google Express either because they can't (like me. It doesn't exist on my little rock in the Atlantic) or because they don't want to. I have (and choose) to do my shopping locally and therefore need a shopping list that I can access from my devices. My own and those of my family (depending on who does the shopping).

I am a Google fan-boy. That doesn't mean I have to agree with everything Google does. In this case especially I'm extremely pissed off. One of the main uses of my Google Homes has just been axed by the overlords at Google. Cheers!

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski​

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I wonder why so many don't get it?

May the Plus be with you,
+Jens Graikowski​​
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