What Baffles Me About Google+

Here’s what I don’t get about Google+: why isn’t there a clear upgrade path from Google Buzz?

A friend of mine shared something in her Buzz feed that I wanted to reshare. When I clicked the Reshare button, I was presented with a list of my Google Contacts groups to choose from. Standard, right? That’s how it’s worked since they introduced Buzz. Except that it made me think: why wouldn’t this be an opportunity to begin to blend Buzz and Google+? The way they’ve integrated the two right now is weaksauce: there’s simply a Buzz column on your Google+ profile; Buzz shares don’t go into your “Posts” stream, despite the fact that the user action is fundamentally the same. Isn’t Google+ an evolution of Buzz, rather than something to be maintained in addition to it? I can tell you now, if I have to divide my time between Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s social network du jour, I’m not going to be happy about maintaining BOTH Buzz and Plus.

Moreover, when I share something on Buzz, I’m explicitly selecting groups from my Contacts with whom I want to share. Should Google+ be somehow aware of that, like, say, suggesting those groups as Circles?

I guess what I’m asking is, for being made up of such smart people, why does Google act so stupid?

I think the problem is lack of product management and product development in-house. It’s not uncommon, when you have a group of smart engineer-types that anything they collaborate on is technologically solid but a great big WTF when it comes to making any sense of customer need or use case. (I’ve seen it a dozen times before in Silicon Valley companies filled with geniuses.) The skills needed to understand product roadmapping and requirements are so completely different from those needed to effectively build, but folks who know how to build don’t often know how to assign value to the folks who know how to plan the building.

And look, I don’t mean to be getting all “the inmates are running the asylum” on you, because at this point that argument has become trite and everyone who’s observed software development over the past decade or two knows this is A Thing. But I guess what’s mystifying me is why doesn’t Google seem to know it’s A Thing, and hire accordingly?

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  1. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I get ya… but really, did anyone use Buzz? I turned it off in the first ten minutes. :)

  2. Kate O'Neill
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I still feel obligated to check it every so often. Its appeal to me despite its frustrating limitations is why I think a Google social network has potential, if they would just get their act together.

  3. Ray S.
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Given that Google is just now trying to unify the interfaces of Gmail, Calendar, G+ and likely the rest of their services shows that their teams are very decentralized and probably aren’t even talking. Most of Google’s sites have very simple, minimal and plain UIs.

    I think that for the first time they are trying to craft something coherent out of all the bits they have lying around. I could see them just ditching Buzz because of the backlash to it, but I’m willing to bet they’ll just integrate it when they get the more important or more easily ported stuff working in G+.

  4. Kate O'Neill
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough. I’m getting feedback on Twitter that I’m jumping the gun, which may be the case. I just expect better with the kind of resources they have.

  5. Joe Lance
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    You nailed it with “The skills needed to understand product roadmapping and requirements are so completely different from those needed to effectively build, but folks who know how to build don’t often know how to assign value to the folks who know how to plan the building.”

    I’m a requirements guy (by day), and I noted the same Big Miss that you did WRT Buzz not morphing into Plus.

    Google, for all its genius(es), is a corporation. And corporations tend to exhibit a form of attention deficit disorder that prevents them from being as seamless as we, the users, would have them to be. And it’s hard to detect from within the enterprise.

    That’s why, of course, they need me. ;-)

  6. Amy Dixon
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Very true! About the mapping out and such. I’m a mapper. I work with geniuses who haven’t taken in the value of mapping thoroughly and before moving on. It happens in other businesses, too I suppose. Mappers and builder must find some common ground! Reach across the aisle! There’s no time for partisanship. ;)

    I’m one of the last few to actually get a Google+ account. :( I guess I’m not one of the cool kids yet. Not that I haven’t been trying!

  7. Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    This article from Steven Levy suggests that the lack of contact integration was specifically in response to the Google Buzz controversy wherein it automatically showed all your contacts. It seems from the article that the roadmap involves contact integration down the line, perhaps even before G+ is completely public (unless it already is), but it wasn’t intended to be a part of the limited trial.

  8. Kate O'Neill
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    That point makes the most sense, and it occurred to me only after I posted this. Thanks for the link.

  9. Posted July 12, 2011 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    The trouble with all these “social network” enterprises is that they don’t come bundled with the time it takes to master them. I’ve tried a couple of times to send private messages to people now that I’m on Google+. I should not have to spend more than, say, 10seconds figuring out how/where to do that. By now it has probably cost me a several minutes, all to no avail.

    The real question for me is why does a company like Google devote their resources to replicating a service that already exists (in the form of Facebook)? That’s not innovation, that’s copying. Google… meet Microsoft.