Adding Google Friend Connect is an example of how hard it is to join the 2010 web

One of the first things I wanted to do this morning was to add Google’s Friend Connect widget to my blog. You can now see that component on the right side of my blog, right above a widget that adds Facebook Connect capabilities.

Now, I had some advantages. Kevin Marks taught me how to do that and showed me what it can do. He works at Google. It seemed simple enough to try myself, so I went off to the Google Friend Connect page and started filling out the form. It said I had to load two files up to my server. One problem, though, I didn’t know how to do that.

Now I can hear you yelling at the screen “you need to FTP them up to your server.”

One problem: most people today have no idea what you just said. I forgot all about FTP back in 1996 and didn’t think I’d need to know about it again.

WordPress’s dashboard makes it easy to upload files, but it doesn’t let you put those files into a specific directory on your server.

And I didn’t have access to my FTP server anyway. Now I do, thanks to Vid Luther, who is helping me with my site.

What if you didn’t have a “Vid?” You’d just give up.

See, this is how deep the disconnect between the geeks who make this stuff is and the normal people who are plumbers, teachers, bar owners, shop owners, etc.

Until we make it so damn simple to add stuff like this to our web sites and our blogs without needing to know about FTP or file uploads etc we won’t get main street onto the 2010 web. Or, at minimum, our tools need to communicate more about what we need to do to complete a required action. In this case it would have been nice for Google to say “you’ll probably need to get access to your server via FTP, go see your site administrator.”

I did talk with Kevin Marks too, and he had a great solution: to use a plugin. But Google’s page doesn’t offer that as a choice, so how is a normal user supposed to know about it?

Anyway, it’s working now. Please help me test it out by adding yourself to the component. As Google and Facebook add more features those components will be more important to all of us. Here’s a menu of things I’m looking to add now that I have this working.

Think people aren’t struggling with these issues? In just the past few hours I’ve received several questions about how I added the friendfeed component to my blog. See, it’s very easy to do copy and paste programming, but only if you know where to paste! :-)

Anyway, onward. I’d love to see your blog and what widgets you love and how you implemented them. Post them here!

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

196 thoughts on “Adding Google Friend Connect is an example of how hard it is to join the 2010 web

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  2. Last time I was here I saw you had the friendconnect bar. Now it is gone. I searched for a post explaining your decision and experience, but couldn't find one. Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

  3. I can't even get past downloading the 2 required files!!!!! I have built my own site, self taught with HTML, I follow directions pretty well, but this set up for Google Friend Connect has been a real pain. Error message cant find site!!!! Grrrrrrr…very frustrating…Will have to shop elswhere. I'm sure apple can probably have something similar with 1 quick click of a link. (wink-wink)

  4. I'm glad you got it into your blog, and I'm glad it's useful. But at what point do we have enough ways to connect to friends? Google is really good at joining existing markets and blowing them out of the water, but I'm doubtful on this one. Add in user-unfriendly issues and… good luck friend connect.

  5. I just want to use Google Friend Connect to my site, but I have a question “what is the different between using Google Friend Connect and using My BlogLog from Yahoo?
    What is the weakness and the strengthness of Google Friend Connect and My BlogLog? I do not want to use both of them, because I don't want there are too many widget on my site.
    What should I choose?

  6. Just checking in and saying “hi” while I was searching to see if anyone used Google's Friend Connect. I was thinking about adding it to one of my sites, but wanted to see it in action first. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thank you for making sense of all this. I could not get an answer to this problem through google.

  8. I had no problems whatsoever adding Google Friend Connect to my first blog. It was only on the second install that I had enough sense to edit the canvas file to include my site name. Now I can add the widget in about 3 minutes.

  9. I was enjoying the blog post,…then I scrolled down and read the comments. I think I enjoyed the discussion more than post :) I personally like things to be kept simple, and I think Google has the resources to keep things simple. Once in a while, I do enjoy the challenge of making things work…which is how I ended up on this blog in the first place.

    Good post and good thread…thoroughly enjoy.
    Darren

  10. Robert, I just added Google Friend Connect to my site http://robertfreeze.com and it was not too difficult for me. There was only one part that was not clear and that was where to put the two files on my server. I found quickly that the files needed to be in the folder I had the blog in, a folder called robertfreeze, on my host server and not directly on the main part of the server so the the files can show up as robertfreeze.com/rpc_relay.html and robertfreeze.com/canvas.html. Once that was done it was just plugging in the code on my sidebar and done. Now I just need people to join so I don't look lonely – I'd love to have 600+ members in 2 weeks like you – I'm assuming mine will be a bit slower.

  11. Hey Mussie, I use Google Apps for Domains. I have found it works with most of the GFC stuff. Is the integration complete for Google Apps or is there some work stil be done?

    Michael Holdcroft

  12. Robert, it looks like Discus is having a few problems. I thought many had double commented, but the two from me above are from a post 6 months ago, not this one. Maybe you can give them a heads up over there?

  13. Mussie, thanks for the good words, just trying to help out who I can since I believe Google Friend Connect is a world changer. When you take the time to realize there is a much greater purpose here, and look a little deeper than Facebook value.

    Facebook Connect? It's on Facebook. Google Friend Connect is on my blog and now it is on Scoble's too.

  14. I'm still using Radio Userland for my blog platform, today I wanted to add a component and because I haven't done it in so long, forgot where it was located, had to go read my newbie tips to figure it out. I agree the average user doesn't know what FTP is or even where to find the right folder to put something in it, the average user knows the internet but how things work behind the scene is a mystery for them. I've implemented the basic components on radio userland, keeping finding more I'd like to setup which is why I'm probably moving over to wordpress soon to make it easier to add gagdets such as the latitude gadget, great idea.

  15. I agree that in many aspects the 101 approach is like a dying breed. I've found that when I speak to non-profits or folks in the furniture industry about social media and growing online communities, which is my passion, they want it from scratch. They feel so overwhelmed because no one is really speaking on their level and they feel like any questions they ask will make them look stupid. I'm sticking to the 101 approach, because that way, I'll always have an audience.
    Angela Connor | @communitygirl

  16. I have been seeing lots of blogs that uses google friend connect. I have now blogcatalog and mybloglog, but I am expecting to try and also enjoy friend connect in the near future.

  17. I think, IamChrisLang, that you didn't get the point Scoble was making.
    And, please allow me , Mr. Mussie Shore to say that your comment is not really the kind of reaction i had expected from the Manager of Product that should the Google Social Network.

    Anyway, back to my reaction to IamChrisLang's comment :
    We (probably more than ) average internet users, we don't want to watch a 5 minutes, or 10 minutes long tutorial on how you can add Google Friend Connect to our site.
    *We just want to add Google Friend Connect to our site.*

    Why cant'I have a big googly button somewhere on a page I read everyday (like, I don't know, let's be crazy : you email page)? That button would ask you if you'd like to add Google Friend Connect to your site.
    Oh, yeah, by the way, Google has your email adress. So, you won't need to provide it.
    Oh, sorry, maybe, you'll have to. Because they didn't yet finished building the biggest social network (some sort of Internet Planet) on this side of the internet galaxy. Anyhow.

    I don't want to download a ftp client, or a Firefox plugin, to help me accomplish this should-be-easy task.
    I don't want to think.

    Hey, guys, from the Internet!
    Yeah, you. I'm talking to you.
    When the heck are you going to stop making me thinking when I'm on the Web?
    Didn't you RTFB (B, like book) : http://www.sensible.com/buythebook.html ?

    Scoble is talking about the 2010 Web.
    And we're actually still stuck in basic usabillity issues we should have finished adressing 5 years ago, at least.

    Internet :
    “This is a geeks's world, this is a geeks's world
    But it will be nothing, nothing without a usability expert or a customer”

    Thanks for the attention.

  18. I think, IamChrisLang, that you didn't get the point Scoble was making. And, please allow me , Mr. Mussie Shore to say that your comment is not really the kind of reaction i had expected from the Manager of Product that should the Google Social Network.Anyway, back to my reaction to IamChrisLang's comment : We (probably more than ) average internet users, we don't want to watch a 5 minutes, or 10 minutes long tutorial on how you can add Google Friend Connect to our site. *We just want to add Google Friend Connect to our site.*Why cant'I have a big googly button somewhere on a page I read everyday (like, I don't know, let's be crazy : you email page)? That button would ask you if you'd like to add Google Friend Connect to your site.Oh, yeah, by the way, Google has your email adress. So, you won't need to provide it. Oh, sorry, maybe, you'll have to. Because they didn't yet finished building the biggest social network (some sort of Internet Planet) on this side of the internet galaxy. Anyhow.I don't want to download a ftp client, or a Firefox plugin, to help me accomplish this should-be-easy task.I don't want to think. Hey, guys, from the Internet!Yeah, you. I'm talking to you. When the heck are you going to stop making me thinking when I'm on the Web?Didn't you RTFB (B, like book) : http://www.sensible.com/buythebook.html ?Scoble is talking about the 2010 Web.And we're actually still stuck in basic usabillity issues we should have finished adressing 5 years ago, at least.Internet : “This is a geeks's world, this is a geeks's worldBut it will be nothing, nothing without a usability expert or a customer”Thanks for the attention.

  19. Hey Robert,
    I have already integrated Facebook Connect and I am looking forward to integrating twitter and google into my test blog.

    But about your FTP thing I get a lot of free time at school and I don't want to install a FTP client there so I downloaded and installed the Net2FTP package to my website. I highly recommend it if you wont be using FTP constantly.

    http://www.net2ftp.com/

    Cheers
    RMisko

  20. Hey Robert,I have already integrated Facebook Connect and I am looking forward to integrating twitter and google into my test blog.But about your FTP thing I get a lot of free time at school and I don't want to install a FTP client there so I downloaded and installed the Net2FTP package to my website. I highly recommend it if you wont be using FTP constantly. http://www.net2ftp.com/ CheersRMisko

  21. If you think installing the base Google Friend Connect stuff is hard, try installing the WordPress plugin to get that blue bar showing at the bottom of the screen! Per the Google instructions (http://www.google.com/friendconnect/admin/site/…), you have to download files, rename folders, upload, tweak code… this kind of difficult-to-install WordPress plugin disappeared over a year ago.

    The irony is that they could just point over to the WordPress plugin repository, where Social Arrow has written a far better, snap-to-install plugin, which you can find via the Plugin Browser/Installer or here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-frie

  22. If you think installing the base Google Friend Connect stuff is hard, try installing the WordPress plugin to get that blue bar showing at the bottom of the screen! Per the Google instructions (http://www.google.com/friendconnect/admin/site/…), you have to download files, rename folders, upload, tweak code… this kind of difficult-to-install WordPress plugin disappeared over a year ago. The irony is that they could just point over to the WordPress plugin repository, where Social Arrow has written a far better, snap-to-install plugin, which you can find via the Plugin Browser/Installer or here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-frie

  23. Great so see you using the Thesis theme, best CMS for WordPress.

    Take a look at my blog for widgets and more. I don't like adding too much stuff, since it's the first way to slow down your blog. Anyway, it's up to you :-) Look at my social bar on top right. I also wrote a tutorial on how adding it to Thesis:

    http://www.lucafiligheddu.com/2009/05/how-to-cr

    You can also think of adding Tweefind, my company's Twitter Search by user rank… take a look http://www.tweefind.com (the widget can be easily found on the left).

  24. Great so see you using the Thesis theme, best CMS for WordPress. Take a look at my blog for widgets and more. I don't like adding too much stuff, since it's the first way to slow down your blog. Anyway, it's up to you :-) Look at my social bar on top right. I also wrote a tutorial on how adding it to Thesis:http://www.lucafiligheddu.com/2009/05/how-to-cr…You can also think of adding Tweefind, my company's Twitter Search by user rank… take a look http://www.tweefind.com (the widget can be easily found on the left).

  25. I still prefer Facebook Connect over Google Friend Connect as I feel it provides better interaction!

    I'm able to select 'Join or Sign in' and login with my Google account but even refreshing the page doesn't update the bar and I'm unable to view the comments either [even after refreshing]

  26. I still prefer Facebook Connect over Google Friend Connect as I feel it provides better interaction! I'm able to select 'Join or Sign in' and login with my Google account but even refreshing the page doesn't update the bar and I'm unable to view the comments either [even after refreshing]

  27. I have tried to use Friend Connect on my website in the past, but found that very few were using it. When I then redesigned my webpage the decision was to take it off again. Using FTP is still very much present, I think the reason is that it is still the most reliable method of transferring large files

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