World of Grim: Google+

You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?" - George Bernard Shaw

Slightly different than Mr. Shaw, I'm not particularly concerned about the "Why not?" Seems to me that's just asking for excuses. Instead, posts prefaced with "World of Grim:" will be articles from the standpoint of how things would be if I was in charge of how things were.

For my first installment, I'll be exploring some possibilities of how much cooler Google+ could be.

Google+ Profile
My main grievance is with the current lack of product integration. Some great opportunities for it are regulated to the "Links" area in the "About" section of your profile.

As you can see in this image, both of my blogs and my twitter account can be accessed by links when you view my profile. Virtually all blogs have RSS (Real Simple Syndication) options that allow you to have all the blogs you like to read delivered to one convenient reading location. Google has a product called Google Reader for this very purpose.

In the World of Grim, Google Reader would be integrated into Google+ by adding a Blogs profile tab in the navigation bar. When editing my profile under that tab, I'd be able to choose whether the RSS feed from all of the blogs associated with my Google+ account displayed under that tab. You'd be able to view my profile and see RSS feeds from those I chose to share with people viewing my Google+ profile, and I'd have the option whether to share those feeds publicly or only with certain circles. It would probably look something like this:

Imagine that, you're checking out my profile because you want to see what I put out on the internet about myself and my Google+ profile serves you up the things I publish to my blog.

In the World of Grim you'd also be able to see a feed of my Tweet Feed from Twitter, the reviews I've written using Google Places, and anything else I decide to share. Let's not stop the product integration there though - why not have my public Google Calendar on there as well.

Even if I decide to share nothing, it all would be there for me to share or not. It would provide incentive for me to use other Google products so that I could keep track of what I'm leaving dangling out there on the internet.

Google+ Stream
The stream is one of Google+ best features. When setting up your Google+ you add people to "circles," essentially lists used to filter who you share with and receive from. By default you see posts and updates from all of your circles, but conveniently on your left is a list of your circles you can use to filter what you see. If you only want to see what your family has shared, simply click the family circle.

In the World of Grim, your gmail account gets its own circle. There really isn't much difference between an e-mail and a "share." They generally consist of text, sometimes with links, sometimes with pictures. In fact, one of the best features of Google+ in its current state is that your "shares" can be sent as email to people in your circles not using Google+. With the possible exception of file attachments and the nasty viruses they're rumored to be chock full of, I fail to see why the majority of incoming emails couldn't be displayed as a Google+ stream.

Even the argument that there would be a great deal of increased bandwidth usage, since a stream of emails would essentially be a preview of everything in your inbox, can be ignored if the default view is set to the same sender/subject/time format that the current gmail inbox provides.

Additional Rambling
I'm glad that the potential for some serious competition for Facebook is on the scene, and Google+ is certainly dripping with potential, but I'm rather disappointed in how little of that potential they've tapped before turning Google+ loose on the world. It's my understanding that there is currently limited access to Google+, that it's in a "working out the kinks" phase with more goodies to come.

Those goodies had better come quickly though. If it's going to gain any footing as a social network people need not only a reason to use it themselves, but reasons to get their friends to switch over. At present, Google+ is at best a slightly improved Facebook but without your friends and their status updates.

As a company, I see Google as highly innovative and really good at pushing that envelope. Unfortunately though, my personal experiences with the majority of Google products have lead to disappointment. Most of that disappointment is due to an apparently lack of product support. For a lovely example, see Google Desktop.

From the best that I can tell they've left Google Desktop dangling in the wind since 2009, bugs and all, and still leave it available for download. Seems like a terribly poor decision to leave products stamped with your company name available to the public if they're broken and unsupported.

It's almost as if Google is organized into several teams working on several different projects with no communication between the teams. Apparently when a team gets reassigned to a new project they aren't required to cleanup after themselves. That makes it a harder decision to adopt a new Google project as a replacement for something you already use as there is no certainty that Google won't drop it later in pursuit of a new innovation.