Why Change Google+?

Why Change Google+?

Many of us are wondering what’s behind the changes now rolling out on Google+. Reactions seem mixed. For what they’re worth, here are my reflections on what is happening.

Design Unification as Cost Containment

One thing that’s clear is that the new desktop experience now maps much more closely to the mobile experience. At one level, this represents the “mobile first” philosophy now driving many web services. Mobile usage of the web is overtaking desktop usage, so firms are now leading with mobile designs.

But wait, you ask, doesn’t Facebook continue to offer a very different desktop user experience than its mobile experience? Yes, astute observer, that is correct. They do. But remember too that Facebook has a very lucrative revenue stream that more than warrants that investment. You see, maintaining two very different user interfaces may not necessarily be twice the work, and twice the cost of maintaining one.

Google+ does not have that direct revenue stream for Google. Its revenues come indirectly through assisting Google in better serving end users in ways that get monetized by the company’s primary revenue engine, which is of course, search. So, given that there are no direct revenue streams, it makes sense that Google would want to try to contain some of the costs of keeping this network going. The good news is that they are keeping it going. User interface unification is just one of the ways that they are trying to contain costs while doing that. And in a mobile-first world, the desktop needs to accommodate mobile – not the other way around.

Design Simplification for Scale

One of the things I’ve loved, I mean absolutely loved about Google+ is that it was sort of a power-user’s service. Over the years, I’ve figured out how to use this service in very powerful ways to get at information I really want and to build connections with people who share a lot of interests with me.

All that power came at a bit of a cost, however, and that cost was complexity. Let’s face it: Google+ really wasn’t that easy to master. Over the years, there have been massive problems with “on-boarding” users onto the service. This problem would show up as lots of user profiles without any usage. Profiles without posts. For many of us who have learned to embrace the service, it’s obvious how to use it. But the truth is that it was a complex service.

That complexity gave us power, and much of the lamenting (see prime example by this whiner: https://goo.gl/r23nqX) is really us power users dreading the loss of our power tools.

So, why simplify? Why would Google feel the need to simplify this user interface so much? Well, part of it goes back to the cost containment point I mention above. Simpler means less user problems and less user complaints. But that’s not the real driver here.

The real driver is reach. Google knows that it has an opportunity here. Facebook long ago locked up the social network graph, but what Google has the opportunity to still win is the interest graph – the place you go to share interests with other people (I’ve been talking about this for a while: https://goo.gl/lrxIj6). The company is now really wrapping itself around this opportunity. Shared interests are the whole organizing principle around which the new design is based.

The key to success is to make a massive push, much of it in the developing world actually, to draw people into this newly revitalized place to share interests with one another. You can do all sorts of promotion to try to bring that about, but none of that does any good if the service is too complicated to allow easy and quick adoption. That is what this new design is all about: building new adoption, so that Google actually has a shot at beating Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter – they have their own, and much more serious, complexity issues).

So, yes, dear power users, many of our favorite power tools are going away. I’m sad too. Truly I am. But here’s the good news: not only is Google+ not going away – the company is doubling down in an effort to grow this network, based on a new, and greatly simplified user value proposition:

Shared interests.

Scale for Training Artificial Intelligence

And so, before closing, allow me to offer one more, much more speculative, observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Google is turning itself into an artificial intelligence (company). One of the key assets it brings to this challenge is its massive user base of people searching for and interacting with information. In this sense, Google+ becomes another extremely important source of artificial intelligence training.

As we group and cluster things into our collections and communities, we are telling Google about how we humans organize the world of ideas. More than that though, we are building connections between those ideas and each of us. We are, in short, building an interest graph that the company can map to its knowledge graph. Through those connections between people and ideas, all kinds of amazing information becomes possible. It helps the company know what kinds of people care about what kinds of topics, as well as what kinds of people know about what kinds of topics. And both of those are very important things to know when you are a company that is using “Internet-scale” software to harness the power of people to train artificial intelligence.

The key is Internet scale. And that means getting lots of people using the service. That is why Google is changing Google+

Post Script:

Product Director at Google, Luke Wroblewski​ notes in the comments below that the team is “trying to support advanced user features but working to find the right place for them. The Circle Settings referenced above is a good example. Still there but not front & center for everyone.”

That’s encouraging. Sounds like it may be about providing options to add back in the more advanced features in certain cases, for those who choose to.

#googleplus #update

145 thoughts on “Why Change Google+?”

  1. Go into settings, scroll down to the “Manage Google+ activity” button, click that and then click inside the search box at the top. That will pop you into the new UI.

    It’s just temporary. It goes away when you open another tab and in various other situations I haven’t quite figured out, Brent Csutoras. But it will give you a sense. 

  2. Gideon Rosenblatt re:”what Google has the opportunity to still win is the interest graph” – without rebranding alongside these changes, I don’t see how this will bring back anyone who already tried G+ and left…

    Same problem that Twitter faces BTW, who has seen similar onboarding problems & churn rates around 70%+… the same Follow metaphor at the heart of both.

  3. Gideon Rosenblatt “… the new desktop experience now maps much more closely to the mobile experience.” What a polite way to express it! Basically, Google doesn’t give a damn about the desktop experience because, you know, working at your desk is so old school.

  4. I tried to manage members in a community in the new layout.  The ability to  search for a particular member was gone or hidden.  THAT is a major loss of functionality.  That might make me close my communities down.

  5. I hate it.  I’m still on Classic Google+ because of the hangout chat.  I wish they had implemented this into the design on desktop.  To me, that is very dysfunctional. 

  6. Great summary. This is very encouraging news about the longevity of G+. I increasingly rely on it for keeping up with news and development that interest me. The more I use it the more accurately Google feeds me what interests me.

  7. The new G+ is an introduction of socialism to social networking – focus on the community instead of the individ – I think it is quite crapy. Just moved back to the classic version. My guess – G+ is finished…

  8. Thanks. And just to pick up on that, Raja Mitra, I’m now definitely getting the sense that this is not the final end point of the new changes. More like a beta to gather feedback on the new directions. I’m hoping that my suggestion early today on the consolidated followed collections stream gets picked up somehow in wherever this goes next. A guy can hope at least…

  9. Gideon Rosenblatt I am hoping so too.  I hope Google observes & listens to the feedback keenly and evolves accordingly. From many of the comments I see regarding the new ‘Streams’ there could be a danger of losing many of the old faithful ‘power users’ once they discontinue the switchback to the Classic Google+ but then I would suppose that those numbers aren’t too large for Google to be concerned about. 

  10. Gideon Rosenblatt​ this would be lovely IF we could foster relationships with the new interface.

    Mentions are gone.

    Ripples are gone.

    Hangout chat from within the social network is gone.

    Apps are gone from hangouts.

    And with all that – discoverability and bonding too.

  11. Yifat Cohen, I think we’re going to have to learn a bunch of new tricks to foster some of the engagement we learned before, and it may be a lot tougher. I think I figured out a way to do mentions…but I’m not sure it’s possible when sharing to a collection. Not sure about that though. 

  12. In my opinion, Facebook locked up social networking as much as MySpace. And see, MySpace today…

    But Google+ shouldn’t forget something: you connect to people around interests often to build relationships. And these relationships becomes more classical “social” relationship (Friends, Boyfriends/Girlfriends) over time. Google+ should still keep Circles and the important things related to social sharing and not interest sharing. And I hope one day, by igniting with interests, they will go social and be the first.

  13. Circles you can get back, Melissa North, by going to Settings and scrolling down to “Advanced Settings: Enable circle stream in navigation” and turn that on. Then circle streams show back up again (like in my image for this post). 

  14. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I will add, however, that we are also trying to support advanced user features but working to find the right place for them. The Circle Settings referenced above is a good example. Still there but not front & center for everyone.

  15. Yes Alex Schleber I got the

    Meet the new Google+.Simpler, faster, better. Preview it today.LET’S GO 

    prompt to try the new interface when I logged in yesterday. Luckily, I was able to “Return To Classic” after taking a look. Instead of the toolbar across the top with a drop-down listing all of my circles, I could only get a Circle Stream (see image on this post) button that listed only 6 circles.

  16. Really nice POV. I too love + but am really not a power user. So it doesn’t match my needs like FB and Twitter have. The release here has me curious again, and that’s a good thing, because a defined purpose shaped around how power users have been using the service could get more people on board.

  17. “The key is Internet scale . And that means getting lots of people using the service. That is why Google is changing Google+.” GR

    As we say in French: et voilà!

    Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt 

  18. A change for the worst I fear: what’s happened with Circles? what happened to adding events? What about Hangouts integration? This is an unwelcome change and will ensure I use it even less than I have. Shame Google – you are gradually weaning me off as a long term supporters, It used to be my favourite alternative to the fleecebook….

  19. Yifat Cohen I am not sure what you mean here.  Are the comment sections of a post where the primary discussions occur?  I just don’t see how Hangouts, Ripples, etc, are key components of interest-based discussions. 

  20. Gideon Rosenblatt Re: ” I think we’re going to have to learn a bunch of new tricks to foster some of the engagement we learned before, and it may be a lot tougher.”

    No. Sorry. I’ve been through that. Over and over and over. Users are not supposed to learn “new tricks” to get something that used to work to work again. Why would anyone make that investment?

    Admittedly, I used to. I used to be full of tips and tricks and advice on how to get the most out of Google+ (and other tools). But why waste that time and effort? Users will climb a steep learning curve but only if they expect a big payoff. And all we get here is another learning curve when they change the paradigm again six months from now. Or give up and shut us down (like so many of their other tools).

    I’m tired of managing my apps. I want apps that let me do my work not force me to come up with workarounds to get the same things done today as I was doing yesterday.

  21. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for this overview…

    for me and so many of my friends our main purpose for being here is forming wonderful friendships mainly on the basis of a shared interest…

    i have bonded with many people from all over the world here..we have laughed and cried together ..supported and encouraged each other with our daily challenges…some have even fallen in love here and are forming long term relationships…

    its so sad…that with the new format it is going to hamper such developments of deep profound friendships…where for some people g+ is a lifeline with the outside world…i dont think people or g+ realise that there are many many lonely people out there for many many reasons…and for them forging a friendship is a life saver…i have many friends who are very very ill and g+ gives them a reason to get up in the morning and connect with someone…many people are insomniacs and will always find someone to talk to here..with all the different time zones..

    finally if people are using g+ to meet and forge friendships one vital loss is the ability to check on someones circles ..ascertain who we have in common and establish if this is a genuine person who we desire to be part of our life or not…seeing the communities a person is connected with guides us as to whether we want to add them or not…this is one method of keeping us safe to a degree here and not connecting with someone of a dubious nature…that troubles me very much…so this new format compromises our safety and depersonalises a social media which by its very title suggests it is social in nature…that social aspect looks to me very much as if it will disappear and that makes me very very very sad…

  22. Michelle Bley Dear michelle thanks for bringing me here..thought you might like to read my thoughts on this..above…sorry its so long..but i just feel sooo sad about the change…

  23. M Sinclair Stevens goes back to my fave rule of thumb: “A well designed system makes you feel good for doing a mere 10%, a poorly designed system makes you feel bad for doing ‘only’ 90%.” …

  24. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis Gideon Rosenblatt … 🙂

    I can live with the new layout etc. but the most disturbing thing for me, disabled and other “normal users” is the apparent deterioration of usability. Now one has to click/tap twice as much to for instance comment on a post,  +1 comments etc. If I want to reach my “friends circle” I now have to click 3 times instead of one as in the old version. So if one is here to socialize with friends by commenting on posts etc. the new version really sucks. This may sound as a ridicilous point of view but in fact it means twice as much clicking in the long run to make the same things as in the old verison. How one can make such an obvious and total deterioration in usability is a mystery for me …

    There are other things that are “worse” too (compared to the old version) but this is the most obvious failure when it comes to usability and a “double complexity” for the “everyday users” that want to socialize with friends etc. etc.

    A usability catastrophy !!

  25. Magnus Fahlén Completely agree..i am dreading this becoming permanent…sigh…its just abysmal…i wish we could do something…there is a petition ..which will probably do no good whatsoever but it made me feel better just signing it…

    most of my activity here is interacting with my cherished friends…i dread losing that facility..we have such meaningful conversations…and such deep friendships ..i am bereft…

  26. So, as a G+ user from the very first days, and someone who has found enough value in it to come back several times a day, I switched back to the old version this morning.

    Why? If Google really wants to be a place of INTERESTS, they have effectively taken curation of those interests out of my hands.  What has been the best thing about G+? The ease of grouping people with like interests together in circles, then easily selecting a drop-down list to see a stream just from my interest group.   After going to settings as advised and enabling circle streams again, I can only see 6 circles, and not the ones of my choosing.

    For example, cars are an interest, and one of my circles.  I could go search for a cars community or collection, but it would be something someone else had curated, not a list I chose myself.  Instead of getting better at the thing they claim to be focused on, they’ve made it bad to the point that G+ would no longer be worth using for me.  

    Tell me someone at Google cares about correcting this, or if there’s an obvious workaround I haven’t figured out, but for the meantime I’m disappointed and more than a little angry.

  27. Donald Ham agree completely..the friends we have made here have been made because we have met them through a shared interest…in my circles friendship is key in tandem with the interest..we support encourage help and chat here everyday..losing that just doesnt bear thinking about…im also disappointed and angry and very very very sad…

  28. Magnus Fahlén Donald Ham there is a petition if youre interested in it highlighting our displeasure and concerns…it probably will make no difference but it helped me feel a tad better…also you can comment on the feedback section which is on the left hand column of your page…apparently they do read and take the comments there on board…

  29. debs pavlova, I’m sorry to say that someone has marked your extensive comments as “spam” and the system is not allowing me to mark it as not-spam. I reported this via feedback to Google, but unfortunately, all of your comments have been put in some sort of spam purgatory that I cannot solve as the post owner. Clearly a bug.

    I’m not sure why someone marked your comments as spam either. They weren’t and that’s rude.

  30. I’ve been in a long meeting for much of the day, so am just getting back to all these comments.

    Here’s my general sense though. I post observations like this from time to time about changes that Google is making and then it tends to attract a lot of people complaining about the latest changes that Google has made. I suppose that’s fine. What I’m offering, or at least trying to offer here, is some perspective on why they may have made these changes. I don’t work at Google. These are just my speculations – educated guesses, based on reading the digital tea leaves.

    So, I won’t be addressing the comments that are essentially complaints about the changes. I mean, I can’t really. That’s not my role or job – and why care what I would have to say about that anyway. I’m just some guy in Seattle. I will try to pick a few points that get more to the heart of my post, however, and address those.

  31. On the points about advertising – yes, clearly, Google makes money from advertising. That’s it’s business model. The vast majority of that advertising happens through its search engine placements. The point is those ads are not placed here on G+. They could be, in theory. That’s the decision that Facebook made, but Google has made the decision not to do that. Frankly, and personally, I am still not sure of why that decision seems so sacrosanct. Ads could really drag down the place, but they don’t have to, just as they don’t have to in search.

  32. Luke Wroblewski bury them as deeply as you want, but do not take advanced features away. We understand the strategic decision to dumb everything down for the billions but if you alienate the 1% you’ll end up with an ocean of animated cat gifs.

  33. Gideon Rosenblatt Thank you so much for getting back to me…it was a fairly long comprehensive comment…so its possible that g+just considered it to be spam due to its length…it has happened to me before..with my lengthy comments…

    in essence i was saying…that for me and my circles friendship is key here..we support encourage and comfort each other and brighten each others day here..we share interests and thats how we all met..but it goes deeper than interests for many of us here….even some of us have fallen in love and met our life partners on g+!!!

    apart from losing that intimacy with people from all over the world..i am concerned that we wont have the access to someones circles to ascertain who we have in common and what communities they are members of..in this way we establish if this is a genuine person who we desire to be part of our life or not…the ability to view communities a person is connected with guides us to whether we want to add them or not..in essence this keeps us safe ..to a degree and the ability to decide not to connect with someone of a dubious nature..this new format compromises our safety and DEPERSONALISES a social media which by its very title suggests its social in nature..that social aspect looks to me as if it is going to be eradicated and that makes me very very very very sad….

    ps..i just noticed my comment is there..so apologies for the repetition…

    could you tell me if the facility to see a persons circles and their communities will be retained…thank you.

  34. Google+ was always a mixed experience for me, but I thought the positives outweighed the negatives. With the recent changes I’m beginning to conclude that the positives no longer outweigh the negatives.

    And currently the software is quite buggy, at least for me on the platform I am using.

  35. Gideon Rosenblatt​ On the web, does the Stream refresh & update at predetermined intervals now? What happened to the staying put at whatever post one happened to be reading and the ‘Resume’ feature for the Stream which they had earlier?

  36. Luke Wroblewski I have seen increased activities in terms of new followers and tremendous view numbers on my collections (view numbers up from 150,000 per day to 400,000) which is good but personally I like the old one where I get feedback. Maybe there should be two apps. One for consumers (the vast majority) and another app where power users can see what’s going on, including granular view numbers to get feedback and adjust settings. Basically there are clearly two categories of users on GooglePlus. The content curators and the consumers. One cannot exist without the other and trying to please both with one interface is going to fail. While earlier Google plus favored the creators the new one is good for consumption but punishing creators would lead to decline of the whole thing.

  37. I think finally G+ will be really committed to focus in grouping people by interests. Wait until dataset get traction 😉 will be much more easy to pick trends etc from the dataset. I bet data scientist are happy now.

  38. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks yes i think i saw instructions somewhere ..have written them down…thanks for all your input here and for responding to all these comments..its really kind of you to take the time to do that..thanks on behalf of everyone here.

  39. While I am generally convinced about the need to simplify the G+ user experience, there should be at least some consistency with general design principles. The actual mobile client with its black menu bar on the bottom, throws us back to the pre material design era (aka Android 4.0 / Ice Cream Sandwich). Also, it makes absolutely sense to de-couple services such as Photos and Hangouts and give them their own independent platform to enable them to grow its own user base. But, why does de-coupling mean to remove any linkage to those services? I mean: I am posting photos here on G+, why not have some linkage to Google Photos? Same for Hangouts…

  40. I’m not sure, Alex Reusch. My guess is that those connections will like come back. It could be that you do your work in those apps and then toss them into the stream here when it makes sense – rather than using G+ to “create” the content or even launch the service to create it. 

  41. Alex Reusch I know that this is kind of a beta, but I was very surprised that the Hangouts integration wasn’t there. I don’t use it that often, I use Messenger more, but that was a major part of the social component

  42. Gideon Rosenblatt Taking a fresh look at your post today to see if I could make sense of all this. Do you think that after all the fuss about tech/biz journalists who supposedly “don’t get it,” it finally comes down to what they said with all those cool warrior-logo graphics and clickbait titles—Facebook vs. Google, #socialmediawars, with Google finally just giving up on the social connection?

  43. Nate Sykes Major component along with so many other things that make g+ a social network..but i think theyre trying to depersonalise it and make it more commercial…thats my interpretation of the disappearance of a few things..you cant check people out so easily to see if you want to add them..you cant see how many followers or views to see if they are desirable or not..it kept those of us who are interested in social interaction safe…apparently a friend has said you can no longer see who adds you so you cant control that aspect so easily…so you cant add back if you so wish..its all going in the direction of completely deleting the social aspect which for some of us was integral to our enjoyment and the whole purpose of being here…hangouts were so convenient..anything that takes more effort will be avoided…for me and my circles here it was a safe environment to forge some very strong friendships..some have even met life partners here..its very sad that change is transforming g+ beyond recognition….

  44. Interesting questions …but for while I’m digressing here in my thoughts remembering a textbook words “… Google’s core search services has been reimplemented nearly from scratch every 2 to 3 years. This environment creates significant incentives to rapid product innovation …” and more poetically “…A beneficial side effect of this aggressive software development is that the hardware architects are not necessarily burdened with having to provide good performance for immutable pieces of code. Instead, architects can consider the possibility of significant software rewrites to take advantage of new hardware capabilities or devices…” 

  45. George Station​, I think that Google is shifting the market opportunity that they’re targeting. Facebook has locked up the pure social graph. What is still up for grabs is the intersection of social and interest graph, or what I call the “shared interest graph.”

    Pinterest, Twitter and reddit are all in various niches within that market, but I think Google is planning to change the market by creating a kind of “clean, well-lit” alternative to reddit. I don’t hear a lot of people framing it that way, especially in the less thoughtful tech press, but I do think that is what we’re looking at.

  46. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for that perspective. In all this, I haven’t seen anyone question Google’s original mission of “organizing the world’s information…” though the alphabetization certainly allows each component to pursue its own mission.

  47. Tried out the new version but came immediately back to the old version ! You loose functionalities if you migrate and i don’t see or understand the added value the new G+ brings. Mobile version of G+ is even more disappointing. And no user feedback is asked why i returned to the old version which is evidence Google+ expected a massive rejection of the proposed migration.

  48. Magnus Fahlén  Mark Vang debs pavlova (and others who find the UI changes frustrating) — What we need to do is take control of our own data and social connections. We could do that with an open network which we use with open-source code. Maybe a company like Google would provide free hosting and nice client code, but when they released client UI version 2, we could switch to it or not, as we liked. There are ways to define the protocol so that, when our current host serves ads or charges too much for storage, some of us can move our data to a new host, without losing connections (between people or data). (Note that in the long run, we should expect to pay something for any good service, whether money or ad-attention — but we needn’t cede control of our interface, nor accept “lock-in” to any one hosting company.)

    (See my G+ post “a Social Network for Ideas”, and its discussion, for some more concrete ideas along these lines, which also relate to the concept of the “shared interest graph”.)

  49. This part from Mike Elgan’s recent article, changed my perspective on the recent update:

    For starters, the new version of Google+ is much faster. Google completely replaced the underlying code, embracing a “responsive design” approach that enables one implementation across all platforms.


    Once I got that, that this is a total re-write, a scrapping of the old code, lots of things that didn’t make sense now make sense. Lots of little niceties are gone, and I found myself asking “wow, why get rid of that – that doesn’t add to complexity?” – but now I get it: it’s a new code base and they are having to reimplement any old functionality if they want to add it back.

    It’s a bold move. Not many companies would be willing to do something like this.

  50. Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for this..but im still not happy..i was happy with the speed in the old version..i liked the niceties..they kept us safe and enhanced our experience….so so so many of my friends here just are not happy with the new version at all…ive tried it and still return to the classic version…i dont see myself ever adjusting to the new..im not happy with the share format..i dont like the comment format…i dont like the fact you cant see who is in peoples circles or what community they are following…so many things are just not the same..sorry to moan..but i was so happy with it as it was and dont see any benefits whatsoever..but thanks for sharing this with us…

  51. Gideon Rosenblatt Synereo looks interesting — thanks. But after a 20-second glance at its website, I see a lot of good qualities listed, but no mention of “open source”, which I think is essential, and they would probably highlight if it was true about their code. What we need is an open protocol supported by open source clients and servers, potentially hosted by multiple independent companies — like the Web itself.

  52. Gideon Rosenblatt “it’s a new code base and they are having to reimplement any old functionality if they want to add it back.” If that’s the only issue, no problem (in the short run), but as I understand it we only have informal statements from G+ developers that they hope to add power-user features back, not a statement from “G+ management”, and we all know that developer and management intentions/priorities can differ. And Google’s track record about maintaining backward compatibility for people who have invested time and data into using their free products is not that great. (Please correct me if I’m wrong — I haven’t read their official posts, I’m just going by other people’s G+ posts and comments, and my own experience.) I gather we also have specific evidence that they might add back power-user features in harder-to-use ways.

    But more generally, regardless of Google’s plans or this specific company or product, we can never depend on a non-replicable service to remain available in the way we want. It’s not a safe long-term situation to become dependent on one. So it’s not incompatible to be grateful to Google (as I am) for the great services they’ve provided so far, and still think that having open alternatives to migrate to is essential.

  53. I happen to agree w/ you, Bruce Smith. I’m very grateful for the excellent service that is G+, and as I outlined in the post itself, I’m reasonably optimistic about the new directions, especially knowing what I now know. Any conjecture I might venture would be purely that. But it’s worth noting that Luke, who provided the comment above, is quite senior. 

    And to finish the thought, I’m also a big fan of open systems. That way lies a much broader prosperity and greater freedom. Over the long run, open protocols are better than proprietary APIs  – in theory at least. 

  54. Gideon Rosenblatt “Over the long run, open protocols are better than proprietary APIs  – in theory at least.” Yes — in practice, companies can innovate faster and often provide better service. Ideally there would be an open protocol supported by multiple companies, with users free to move their identities and data between companies, without losing connections when they do. Multiple companies could profit without users being locked in to them. How to get to that is a hard problem, since typical innovations occur at single companies due to their R&D investment, which they try to protect by being exclusive providers. So I think someone, perhaps “outsiders”, need to develop an open protocol (for sharing data, and maybe identities) which multiple companies could choose to support.

  55. Dor Konforty Thanks, that means I’ll look into it more closely when I have time.

    (I looked again at your home page and “learn more” page, and I still see nothing there that says it’s open source (except the github logo at the bottom, which I missed the first time), so I suggest making that fact more prominent.)

  56. Gideon Rosenblatt With each update to the G+ UI / UX, I’ve certainly found G+ to become less and less of a cohesive community and it’s usefulness as a social sharing tool less relevant. Add to that the massive increase in spam comments and +1s, and it is easy to see why over the past 18 months, I have significantly curtailed my involvement.

    I posted only about 40 times in 2015, which would have been a month’s worth of posting in the past. I don’t even know how many fewer comments and +1s I provided on others’ posts, but it is safe to say that in the past, I would easily provide roughly twice then umber of comments on others’ posts as my monthly post count.

    A week or so I logged back on to G+ and saw an invite to try the “new Google+”. I accepted the invite and instantly realized that it was just the mobile experience recreated on my desktop. As G+ has not worked well on my iOs devices in a long while, I stopped using G+ on my mobile many moths ago. Perhaps the latest update fixed the big issues, but it was too little too late for me.

    So, seeing the mobile experience on my desktop made me cringe. The desktop offers the opportunity for a richer user experience. Recreating the mobile interface on the desktop dumbs down the service too much imo.

  57. Yeah, Jeff Sayre, I’m usually someone who is all over whatever’s new, but over the last few months, I’ve found myself simply staying in the old UI as I use G+. There’s just too much functionality that is in that older UI that’s not there (yet?) in the new UI. Search is one of the features that’s been severely downgraded, for example. I like the new focus on interests of course, but still think there are some really simple fixes to the way it’s currently implemented that would make things so0000 much more useful. An aggregated feed of all my followed collections and all of my followed communities, for example, when I click on those links from the main navigation (as opposed to a bunch of pretty squares with names on them). 

    Good to hear from you, by the way. Long time.

  58. Gideon Rosenblatt Agreed. Yes, it is nice to communicate with old friends again. I do miss that, a lot. I spent much of late 2014 and last year focused on the outside world, promoting my new field guide. Now I’m back to figuring out what I’m going to do next for work!

  59. Yes, we need an “oldies” club! Jeff Sayre has been in my Circles (remember them?) for a looong time, as have others who have been missed. I’m not sure why Google would be OK with reduced interaction and presence in any of their projects. So I “assume” they’re observing all this, and trying to make the new interface full-featured enough to keep us, if not identical to the previous. (Remember when G+ went to “card-style” and we thought THAT was annoying? Ah, nostalgia.)

    I’ve stuck with the old interface on desktop here and with my campus (.edu) account—hoping the campus IT cannot force us into the new. On mobile: My iPhone is updated, but my iPad has the old G+ (and the old Twitter with stars instead of hearts, ha ha!). Not updating the iPad until the interface breaks. So there.

  60. Yeah, the sense I get from Luke Wroblewski​’s comment above is that the intent is to bring much of that old functionality back – or at least the most important parts of it. Some of it has been creeping back in, and Luke has a collection just dedicated to those announcements, which you can follow with notifications (which I do to keep up w/ the changes). 

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