The great migration to Google plus

Last Saturday, tech pioneer and Digg founder +Kevin Rose announced he would be moving his online presence from his blog to Google plus (https://plus.google.com/110318982509514011806/posts/ZoUX52aowxy).

Yesterday IdeaLab founder +Bill Gross followed suit (https://plus.google.com/100612175927429294541/posts/4Js65fAiYZW).

To say this has gotten a bit of attention would be an understatement. Actually, to say it has caused a shitstorm would be an understatement!

Yesterday MySpace founder +Tom Anderson published an article on Techcrunch titled How to build an audience on the internet: the Kevin Rose school vs. the Fred Wilson school (http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/11/how-to-build-an-audience-on-the-internet-the-kevin-rose-school-vs-the-fred-wilson-school/).

I want to highlight a few of the things Tom said in that article:

“Where to host your content is a tricky issue. When blogging started to become a serious endeavor and Internet folks realized they could amass their own audiences, they naturally assumed it was important to own their domain, control their distribution list, maintain the links that have been built up to their content, or in summary, control their own destiny.”

“That model of posting everything on your own domain might have worked in the earlier days of the Internet. But who is so interesting that they can get a large enough audience to keep a bookmark and check their website? Technorati doesn’t show a single personal blog in the top 100.”

“… more than anything, I think, you need to remain flexible and pay attention to how the Internet is evolving.”

Also yesterday, +Christopher Mims published an article in the MIT Technology review which was even more provocative than Tom's: Google+ marks the end of blogging as a means of personal expression (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/26986/?ref=rss).

Christopher points to +Kevin Rose and +Bill Gross as first-movers in a mass movement to abandon blogs:

“…the speed with which bloggers who have spent years building a presence on the web, accumulating credibility with search engines, etc., made the switch to a platform they don't really control, shows that blogs themselves have outgrown their original purpose.”

Like Tom, Chris sees the move to G+ as a great blog exodus, leaving ghost towns behind.

“With social networks competing for our attention, personal blogs that didn't professionalize -- turning into miniature versions of the publishing behemoths they were intended to overturn in the first place, completing a dance of mutual co-option -- simply became ghost towns.

No visitors means no comments, and without engagement, what's the point of sharing your thoughts with the world?

Hence, the exodous to Google+…”

These ideas were echoed in a more personal conversation I had yesterday here on G+ (https://plus.google.com/113173288673338357626/posts/JPzPsqKQ6s9) where a group of friends in a circle I would loosely call “knowledge management/learning/collaboration” or maybe “social business” debated the pros and cons of G+ as a collaboration tool.

Again the key question of place came up. Where to post your information, on your blog, here on G+ or somewhere else?

I’m with Tom, Christopher, Kevin and Bill on this one. Since I first joined G+ on June 30 I’ve been posting a lot of thoughts, mostly on the topic of G+. At first I posted them here because G+ was in limited field trial, and I didn’t want to post a lot of things on my blog if nobody would be able to get in to see what I was talking about.

But I was quickly amazed at the level of engagement and conversation I was seeing here on G+. It simply blows away anything I’ve seen anywhere else.

A great migration

What I think we are seeing is something similar to the great migration from farms to cities that happened during the industrial revolution: Blogs, in a way, are like farms: Every farmer is a business person, producing goods and selling them to a market. Bloggers are also producers: they produce content, information, ideas, sparks for the imagination. You have a lot of control with a blog, but like a farm, it also takes a lot of work to maintain it, and a blog is only worthwhile if people are consuming what you produce.

People migrated from farms to cities because that was where the action was. The increased density of cities lowers transaction costs, increases the number of connections and interactions, and creates a huge amount of opportunities for people. As Stephen B. Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come from and Santa Fe Institute physicist Geoffrey West have both pointed out, city populations become more productive as they increase in size and density.

G+ is a city, plain and simple. Like Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and many that came before, G+ is a densely-packed community that increases the opportunities and productivity of its population.

If you consider your career, I think you will find that your career path is inseparable from the social networks that made it possible. At each step, people recommend you, offer up ideas and opportunities, keep you in mind for future reference, and so on. Entrepreneurs like me always have a circle in their heads called “people I would start a company with” (Note to self: make that new circle on G+ :).

What is happening here on G+ is that the density of people and ideas is creating that innovation energy that you see in the world’s top cities. Michael Dell, Kevin Rose and others are opening G+ hangouts that are open to the first 9 people who see them and jump on. Newt Gingrich is doing the same thing. Just like a big city, there’s a level of access and engagement here you can’t get anywhere else.
Tom Anderson commented on one of my G+ posts the other day. Was he going to find my blog on a random search and comment on one of my posts there? Possible but doubtful.

Yes there are some big inconveniences here. G+ is new and they are still working out a lot of kinks. If you want to link to things it’s a bit of work. It’s hard to bookmark things for later. It’s a hectic, continuous stream, like a busy street in New York city. Like any big city, the level of noise is high and the inconveniences are significant. But the flip side of that coin is the serendipitous connections, the conversations, the sparks and yes, the tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth.

I haven’t decided to abandon my blogs yet. But for now I am having my conversations here on G+ where I can participate in that magical energy and flow you can only get in a rich urban environment. At the same time I am going to be careful about encouraging friends and family to join G+. This city is still a bit raw, like San Francisco during the gold rush. It’s a noisy, boisterous town in high growth mode, lacking a lot of modern conveniences that characterize more established metropolises. Facebook is still a lot safer and G+, in my opinion, isn’t quite ready for the mainstream yet. But it will be. And if G+ can keep its promise of being an open city, where I can pull in streams from other places (Flickr and Wordpress blogs for example), then it’s going to be one of the most killer cities on the web.

What’s your opinion? Are you going to kill your blog and move your conversations here? Or do you feel that G+ isn’t ready for prime time yet? would love to hear your thoughts!
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