Last night (8th October) I was horrified to find out that Google will be pulling the plug on Google Plus in ten months’ time.
The U.S. tech behemoth had kept quiet for months about a security flaw which gave a gold mine of data to third party apps on users’ private data.
I don’t really want to go into the issue and surround any further negativity, but if you want to know more about it, here’s a brief insight from The Verge.
My G+ Story
I started using the social network (or social layer as it was known back then) when it started in 2011.
I remember reading on the BBC News site at the time that Google was going to take on Facebook and release its very own social networking site which I thought sounded very exciting and really wanted to be part of something that could champion Zuckerberg’s network.
After receiving an invite (I had to join a Facebook group to gain access) I jumped straight in and studied how circles worked – an intuitive way of segmenting your contacts from friends, family, acquaintances, to adding sparks – in a nutshell, entering keywords that were linked to your interests. Once you had entered your interests, you would receive news updates in your Sparks feed. From what I remember, this feature wasn’t really popular and Google eventually removed it.
As time went on I engaged with numerous pages, people, and communities. I loved the fact that Google Plus was full of diverse people from techies to foodies and there seemed to be a social media etiquette that developed that I have never seen before on any other platform.
People were there to help, there really was a sense of help thy neighbour; no matter if it was a Google Plus issue or whether it was a real life problem, someone from the G Plus community was always there.
A couple of years later I got to around 1,000 followers (which took a lot of hard work!), I noticed many influencers started to pop up. One of them was Martin Shervington, a Welshman with a passion for all things Google Plus and would coach people and businesses on how to get the most out of the platform. He even wrote a book dedicated to G Plus, The Art & Science of Google + (pictured below). I learnt a great deal from Shervington, and remember on one of his Hangout On Airs (HOAs) he had a guest who I had never came across on the social site, David Amerland.
For those of you who not familiar with David, he is the author of many great titles (you can view them all here), in 2013, his book Google Semantic Search was all over Google Plus and when Martin interviewed him on his Hangout everything about the Google universe (at the time) made perfect sense, you would hear him say “It’s all about joining the dots” and connecting with those from serendipitous moments. The amount of times I found an answer from being logged into my Google Plus account and finding that someone in my circles had what I was looking for quite mind blowing from a direct search.
Above: Martin’s insightful book on Google Plus, even though the platform will be gone in ten months time, there’s still a lot of takeaways that can applied to other social media sites. I’d have to write a separate post on it – here’s an old Hangout that has some relevance to his book.
Having watched and read awesome content from these two Google Plus heavyweights, this definitely helped me along my journey as I continued to engage with people who I probably wouldn’t have met in every day life.
I even got a job from having a presence on there, even better my job, was linked to helping businesses promote their brand on the platform, this would have probably not have happened if I had spent my online time somewhere else.
Google Plus was all about learning, being inspired, and of course having fun. It some ways it reminded me of a modern Ancient Greece where people would debate for hours on numerous topics, where we all like Socrates, ignorant, but in the end our thirst for knowledge made us prevail.
Social gets a bad name with countless trolls, fake news, and showcasing the wrong type of people that are not at all inspiring for younger generations.
While a lot of people out there sniggered at Google Plus and dubbed it “The Ghost Town” – whilst they were too busy making fun of the platform, those “ghosts” were having fun, most importantly, we were part of something very special.
We exchanged information, we never faked our online presence and always stayed authentic, and most importantly had respect for other people’s opinions. The loyal servants to G Plus showed that we did truly develop the makings of a great digital platform.
Google Plus, which used to be known as the “social layer” because it was linked to an array of Google products from Youtube to Hangouts to Photos if I remember rightly, broke away in 2015.
Ever since, loyal users like myself have been worried about it’s future, even though features like Collections were introduced to encourage users to share their passions in a “Pinterest” kind of way and were popular, this year especially, it has been quiet (for me anyway), although it has not stopped me from posting/sharing content and reading like-minded posts.
It’s very sad that this data breach is the final nail in the coffin for Google Plus. I guess all good things must come to an end (*sigh*). Despite being devastated by the news, I have so many awesome memories, I loved that Hulk Hogan joined a live Hangout On Air about marketing to meeting my girlfriend Ludka (it’s our third anniversary today), a serendipitous moment from engaging on an architecture post brought us together! This post is dedicated to her.
Let’s hope one day we can return to a platform like this!