Some thoughts about Google+

This image passed by in my Google+-stream and it’s a very good picture. I commented it with:

Which is actually what worries me. If this continue Internet will soon be the same as Google and that can’t be good in the long run for anyone, including Google…

and that got a comment that said:

Only until the ‘next big thing’ comes along. G+ is not an end.

I wrote a long reply that eventually got erased because I clicked at the wrong point on the screen by mistake but I decided it was worth writing the comment again, but now in a place where I can save the draft so I don’t lose it all again (hence why I write in English, or at least Engrish, btw).

I’m positive that something will replace Google+, if nothing else because something will, eventually, replace Google. There was a time when IBM was the dominating computer company and it was almost a fact of life that that’s the way it was going to be, when Microsoft dominated the market many had learned the lesson and was convinced that even that era would end (although noone could of course predict when that would happen) and today we can deduct that the same thing will, eventually, happen to Google and sometimes I get the feeling that some people are surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Of course, this was mainly back in the old days when Google was a search engine and the Internet favoured a new search engine almost every week and the former stars quickly fell into oblivion.

So when Google+ falls it’ll just be another cycle and something else will take over? It’s just the same thing over again, right?

I don’t think so. I think we see a new era and it’s partly both Facebooks and Google+’s fault (and probably a few others as well). With Facebook we got a new customary where Zuckerberg and his pals introduced something we haven’t really seen before (or at least not even closely as successful), the ability for the average user to ”control” their content. Before Facebook more or less all content on the Internet was public (there were a few exceptions but they usually targeted such a small number of people that it didn’t affect the general flow of things) but with Facebook, and it’s millions and millions of users, the ”controlled” content changed how many thought about how the Internet works. One interesting social aspect is where the ”blame” was put, before Facebook people published their pictures etc and if you couldn’t see them it was the web hotels fault for broken setup, crappy network etc, now it’s your fault for not being a member of Facebook! Instead of reflecting over the ramifications of a single company controlling our social life on Internet most people adapted and Facebook grew until virtually noone could threaten them…

…until Google decided to take on the beast. Over three years Facebook ha grown to 750 million users, Google+ is still in closed beta but since the first users were allowed to sign up to the ”closed beta” 13 days ago the last number I heard was that Google+ already has 4.5 million users. I’m convinced that what we see now is the combined synergy effect of Googles investments in gmail, YouTube, Picasa, blogger etc and that the combined weight from these integrated services will crush Facebook in a similar way that Microsofts combined Windows and Office proved to be a killing stroke against all competition back in the 80’s.

This integrated environment where you can do everything within the sphere of Google is of course that it’s convenient. Your social life, your news feed, your searches etc all go through Google, if you upload a picture it doesn’t take a third party to work, it’s Google, a video goes to YouTube, ie Google, your phones software is developed by Google and so on and so on. There’s only one user account to remember which makes it seamless for the end user and when a new service is added it means you get instant access to it without having to sign up to a different account. And so on.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

So what’s the problem? Google+ will fall eventually, like everything else, and be replaced by something better? Cake for evereyone!

The problem is that Facebook had to compete and replace other social sites which, in their turn, mainly had to replace very simple social sites, like forums, BBS systems etc. Anyone taking on Google+ will have to face the combined wrath of Google, Google+, gmail, Picasa, YouTube and even Android. I don’t think it helps that Google has it’s slogan ”Don’t be evil”, even though I actually believe that they try to live by their rule in one way they are still evil and it can’t be helped; they are a part of the movement from the small scale, anarchistic Internet just loosely controlled by a few big ISPs to a corporate controlled entertainment system where it will be increasingly hard for the small actors to find a space to exist in.

Back in the days of radio there were a period where the pioneer stations popped up 13 on a dozen. Everyone (that could afford it) could buy a transmitter and start broadcasting, then the government started to regulate it. You needed a permit, your transmissions were controlled and evaluated and radio quickly turned into a business where the hobbyist soon found themselves being locked out from the air. Many has claimed that this can’t happen on the Internet because there’s no limited bandwidth like in the air, but I think they’re wrong.

In a way the bandwidth is limited even on the Internet. Sure, the Internet can be upgraded, dial up can be replaced by ADSL, 10 Mbit can be upgraded to 100 Mbit, when that’s not enough just get Gbit and so on, but there’s one bandwidth that can’t be upgraded and that’s the one between the computer and the brain.

It’s decades since Internet contained so much information that it could easily saturate the brain and for every year the amount of information on the Internet increases exponentially and all that noise is what silences the small voices.

I would like to do a cover of the old pop-hit ”Video killed the radio star” and rewrite the lyrics to ”Corporates killed the Internet star”, but unlike Joe Hill I’d probably get sued by the record company.

On the other hand he got shot, which might be considered a slightly more bleak fate after all.

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