Why yo daddy won’t use Google+: no noise control

OK, there are a few people giving me heck for using sexist language in my last post. Sorry for pandering to my audience, but when I visit engineering teams at tech companies around the world they are mostly male. At the recent WWDC (Apple’s developer conference) there were so few women in the audience that the professional press started talking about it. So the post resonated better than if I had started “why yo daddy won’t use it.” But I wanna be fair and non-sexist, and VC Fred Wilson gave me that opportunity this morning.

He says his dad will like Google+.

Um, Fred, no he won’t (and neither will most average people) and here’s why. But first, I agree with Fred that a healthy competitor to Facebook would be a good thing, more on that later.

Look forward a couple of months from now, or maybe six, when Google+’s new car smell wears off and all of us elitist, sexist, ageist geeks have something new to poke around with and get excited by (new iPhone anyone?)

Then we’ll all judge Google+ by its utility, not by its new car smell (and it is a damn fine smell, believe me).

The big problem will become quite apparent that there’s no noise control. Yes, this is what made FriendFeed, Google Buzz, and other systems seem lame and why Facebook continues to be more interesting to most people in the world.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I spent a lot of time going through thousands of people’s social graphs (IE, their list of friends on Google+) and I’ve picked out all of the VCs and put them into a circle.

I’m looking at that list right now. Problem is it isn’t giving me ONE THING that I expect VCs to talk about. There isn’t one item that talks about funding new companies, gives me some insider look into Silicon Valley, or that gives me tips for how to run my company to get better returns.

Instead I see Joi Ito’s dive pictures, Ryan Spoon talking about Facebook Places, David Lee changed his profile photo, Francine Hardaway posted some funny animated GIF, Paul Buchheit talking about Twitter celebrities. And on and on and on it goes.

There is no utility here. Yes, it’s sorta fun, yes, geeks love to see the dive photos that that Joi shoots around the world (me too, but it’s hardly what I expected to be able to see here and actually it’s better to see those photos linked to from Twitter and displayed in Flipboard).

So, until Google gives us the ability to control noise Google+ will continue not being used by average people (my metaphorical “yo momma and yo daddy.”

The thing is what is noise control?

Two things, one of which Google is known for:

1. Search. The ability to say “show me all cool new items that talk about venture capital.”
2. Sifting. This is similar to search, but goes beyond. “Show me all future items that talk about venture capital.”

Now, if Google+ had both of those things, along with a few other features, then Fred Wilson’s daddy and yo momma might see some deep utility in a service like Google+.

One last thought on this noise control thing. Facebook has a really deep achilles heel that’s associated with this. It’s that everyone over there was so freaked out by Zuckerberg’s privacy grab that they turned on most of the privacy settings. I recently went through many of my Facebook friends and some had gotten so freaked out that they — even though they were my friends and I meet them quite often — stopped letting me see their wall (I unfriended anyone who did that because it totally removed any utility Facebook has, which is to let me see your fun photos of you living your life). Jeff Jarvis noticed this too and totally nailed it as something that Google is doing way better.

So, if you take what Google+ is doing better (encouraging people to share more publicly) and you put it with some noise control (er, search features) then we have something.

Until then, yo momma and yo daddy ain’t gonna be on Google+.

By the way, geeks are arguing with me about this post over on Google+.

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.

126 thoughts on “Why yo daddy won’t use Google+: no noise control

  1. My daddy won’t be interested in this, because he can barely text, let alone browse social networking sites without being totally frustrated with it.lols. I haven’t tried Google+ will see if it can fit my tastes.

  2. I started reading the post intending on disagreeing but I can’t. Truth is, if you create a circle of subject matter experts hoping to only see information regarding that subject, that won’t happen unless they have you in a specific circle and only share information relevant to that circle or publicly. With that being said, Facebook also lacks this noise control so I don’t see this as a real issue at this time.

  3. robert, i think you are wrong to think that google plus and facebook will remain the way they are today. in 6 months from now they will be different and this post will be irrelevant. facebook will have their new service, followed by google’s, and the ball keeps rolling.

    i believe that in the long run, google plus has a very good chance of taking a very big cut of facebook’s users pool and offer more tools and sharing options.

    it seems though, that with google plus, as oppose to facebook, users are more reluctant to share, as google seems more “open” than the “closed” facebook. google should pay attention to this issue.

  4. Hi Robert,

    I see that you have more than 3000 people on Google+. wow that is amazing. are you still able to send invitations? I would love to check this google+ :)

    Greetings,

    Lorie

  5. So what’s up with Sparks? I expected that to be the filters you are talking about. They should be search terms that pull filtered feeds of the people in your circles. Currently they seem more like generalized web search results?

    Also interesting, my step-mom got on here last night, thanks to me adding her to my family circle. My buddy at work who always buys the latest gear, tweets, uses Facebook, even got a free Chrome laptop…oh he’s still waiting for an invite! Oh well.

    1. I also think Sparks should be somehow linked to circles rather than only for the web. I’m finding most of the content to be lackluster.

  6. What a ridiculous article… this does not make sense at all. The reason you see so much noise, is because you added 3000+ people to your circles. No wonder your (main) stream is a mess. If you divide these people in Circles, say Family (10 people), Friends (30 people) and Everybody Else (2060), THEN you would use G+ the way it is meant to be. Want noise and endless yacking about G+? Click Everybody Else. Want important stuff? Click family and watch a cute movie of your sister’s new puppy. Want Good Ol’ Yack? Click Friends, and see a picture of what your neighbor had for breakfast. THAT is what will happen, and THAT is why my Daddy (75) is ALREADY using G+. I couldn’t get him to use FB with a shotgun, he received 3 invites from people he met once and bolted.

  7. Wow, for me G+ is just the opposite. I find utility in how you can lock down each post. Suddenly I can speak freely because I know exactly who can and can’t see my posts, and the people I target them to can speak freely because they know exactly who is involved.

    The last thing we need from a new social network is a broadcast podium; that has been done and done better in other mediums. What we really need is a place where you can have the same kind of conversations you would in your day to day life; conversations with real depth.

  8. I took the time to make lists on facebook and find that lists/circles are more about limiting posts than filtering the feed. feed limiting really only has two settings: close friends / everyone. and close friends can be deduced by algorithms.

  9. Noise control? Facebook? What??? 2 words: FarmVille. MafiaWars.

    Seriously. Facebook is a cesspool of noise, and Twitter is no different. Sure, you can use 3rd party tools to filter a lot of that crap out, but then you’re judging the 3rd party tool. Not an accurate comparison.

    In regards to search on G+, that’s what “sparks” are for, or at least intended for. Your average mama and papa isn’t hanging out on Facebook or G+ to get the latest in venture capital. They are there to see John’s scuba diving trip, videos of their grandkids, and news about what’s happening in the family.

    In the long run, “noise” is in the eye of the beholder.

    1. I have no idea what he is talking about. He compares the FB / + Wall/Stream to Twitter and talks about how great Twitter is because of the filters. Are you kidding me? YOu need to use 3rd party programs to fix a product that is all about noise. Check Scoble under wikipedia – he tweets 21 times per day on average. He is NOISE.

      Stream compared to Wall offers filters. That is the point. Additionally I can have a PRIVATE conversation in the stream. I realize Scoble is 10 times more experience than me and likely much smarter blah blah blah but he just seems so wrong here and out of touch. 

  10. Google+ feels somewhere between Friendfeed and Facebook to me. I’m not enjoying the Facebook like features, and there’s not enough of a jump past Friendfeed to make it a must have part of my net interactions. 

    I’ll give it some time to see how it develops, but my hopes are tempered.

  11. Thank God VCs talk about other things than venture capital. I like to know people in their entirety if I am going to do business with them. You can tell a lot about the ethics, integrity, and interests of a person by reading their posts outside their main occupational area. 
    And  though there is plenty of talk about in the VC industry and where it’s going, it’s not always breaking news. Venture Capital isn’t like war. People go home from it at night and think about other things. 
    I’m in London this week, and I will be saying plenty about startups and incubators, and the “normal” stuff I talk about.

    However, I would like to think I have a life. (And that was Pirillo who posted the animated GIF. I was the one who posted the dog photos)

    I do talk about other things: health care, politics, family, news, world events, products, and yes, DOGS. I think what +Robert Scoble is saying is that he’d like his circles aimed at topics, and he’d like the posts of someone like me, or McClure, or some of the other talkers, sorted by content rather than by name. That’s a good suggestion. Hashtags are supposed to do that on Twitter, but there’s nothing like that yet on Google+.

    Take heart, though, Robert. Twitter  wasn’t born with hashtags either. If this is a real problem, it will get fixed.

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