This was the question Sage Lewis put in my head today at a Cleveland Web Association event.
The thing is I’m not yet on Google+. Doesn’t exactly qualify me to blog about it, does it? Not in specifics, but as a person who has a need to communicate and receive relevant communication from other people, I think it does qualify me.
Like everyone else, I receive and communicate thousands of messages everyday. “Good morning” to my wife (personal face-to-face communication), quick update on the “news” courtesy of Matt Lauer (broadcast communication), “grande decaf, room for milk” to the Starbucks barista (transactional face-to-face communication), email review, check Twitter, staff meeting, return client call, etc., etc., etc.
Most of these interactions are so ingrained, I’ve never contemplated them being conducted digitally. The fact is, even the commonly conducted digital communications, email, blogging, Tweeting, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. seem like related but separate activities to me.
So here’s the question: would you eschew other “online communications” avenues and even some traditionally analog ones and concentrate all that activity in Google+?
Is that just feeding the potential for creating an evil (or eviler, depending on your views) Google empire? Something on an even bigger scale than Microsoft enjoyed for decades (and still does to a great extent in desktop computing)?
Or does it make sense? You’re going to conduct these communications either way. They’re online somewhere and don’t belong to you anymore as it is. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to consolidate them? Then you would have more time for leisure (oh yeah, that old myth again!)
I don’t know what will ultimately come of Google+ — I’m not even registered for Google+, after all — but as improbable as it may seem right now, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch. If it’s well executed. All the risks aside, I think people are willing to sacrifice some control and (lots) of privacy to make their lives easier.
Not only do I think it’s possible, I think it’s inevitable. Maybe not on Google+. Maybe it will happen on Facebook or some other network we haven’t even seen yet. It’s happening in other aspects of life: subscription services (phone, internet, TV), city services (regional collaboration between police, fire, sanitary, etc.)
The most recent proof I can point to is the smartphone. “Experts” talked about convergence for a long time before it happened. At any point, did you think it was silly to attach a low-quality camera to your phone? I remember saying, “why in the world do I need the internet on my phone?” And, in the beginning, we were right, those things were stupid. My actual camera was much better than my phone and the time it took to type out a URL on my phone wasn’t worth the trouble. So what changed?
The execution got better. Sure, my actual camera still takes better pictures, but they’re not so much better and my camera can’t upload those pictures to the cloud, my Flickr account and send them to my wife with a few presses and swipes. My iPhone can though.
So, Sage Lewis, my answer is (conditionally) yes, I believe Google+ if it’s well executed will become a communication hub for people. (can’t wait to read this again in 5 years…)
What do you think?