Friday, May 3, 2019

The thing about G+

Patrick asked if about people’s feelings on G+ being gone. He doesn't miss it.

I do.

It took me a few weeks to bring myself to delete the app (and inbox) from my phone, and I still tryto click where it used to be out of force of habit.

But what about it do I miss? Patrick’s points about it having been on a major downturn for quite a while are very much on the nose, so why even miss it?

1. It’s core idea was excellent. The root of google plus itself was excellent. The wall is a wonderful way for me to find and consume content. It was simultaneously a good way to share visual and text based content. The wall pushed my dopamine buttons because there was this mild “hunting and finding” element to it, that didn’t descend into the tumblr/Pinterest wall madness.

Circles were exceptional. I didn’t use them to post to (almost always posting publicly because I always wanted strangers to be able to find and reference my stuff if they stumbled upon it). Rather, I used them to sort people I was following. It enabled me to basically rank the content/people I wanted to see. I bundled up illustrators and nap makers. I bundled up Game Masters. People in Texas. Layout people. People I personally considered “elite posters”. General posters. And perhaps most importantly: The Abyss.

There are lots of damaged, or depressed, or politically obnoxious, or meme posters, etc out there. On the whole, much of what they post is stuff I’m not really interested in. Perhaps it’s even mostly trash. But. There’s always a chance they’ll post something good. Something quality. And so, a couple times a week I could peer into the Abyss and hunt for the quality. While simultaneously keeping the garbage posts out of my home feed.

Likewise I could focus my feed down and say: “what are the mapmakers and illustrators talking about this week?” and I could glimpse more focused memetic “pulses”. I miss this more than anything about the platform.

2. The good times were great. The golden era was phenomenal. Full stop. The crumbling, and destruction doesn’t change the fact that the good times were just so fucking good. Perhaps the branches all bloomed so heavily that their breaking was both natural and inevitable.

3. It was a Goldilocks zone for posting. Twitter is too shot and fragmented to have decent conversations or make truly decent posts. Reddit is a cesspool. Everyone worth a damn is banned from Mewe is all walled off and only members can see your posts. Blog posts have always felt more “formal”, perhaps that’s just me, but I feel like I need to try with a blogpost whereas G+ felt perfect for half formed fragments that could then get “workshopped” in the comments. Discord is too transient and fulfills different needs. Tumblr is both insular and undead.

G+ just really nailed “microblogging” better than anything else I’ve ever seen.

4. It had just enough critical mass. Swordfish Islands likely would never have existed without G+, and the pledge data on Kickstarter showing pledges that came from a G+ link are pretty significant. And I’m sure that doesn’t just apply to my Kickstarter. 

It may have been a small community, but the people were actually fucking real, and they backedeach other’s projects with real money. Perhaps other platforms are like this too, but those platforms appear to lock the post access behind paid promotions. 500 people may like your page on Facebook, but only a tiny fragment of those people will see your post unless you pay. G+ did not seem to do this (at least on that level).

The key that made all this possible was the ability to share circles early on. Community hubs were able to basically curate people. And since G+ more or less pulled all its early adopters from bloggers, those early curated circles had a foundation of “here are people who produce, relatively consistently, and of good, or better, quality.”

That was just unbeatable.

It was special. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it. It will always hold a special place in my heart, and my life. Of course I’ll miss it. But perhaps the line gets all muddled when someone says G+. Are they talking about the platform? Or the community? Or bits of both?


  1. I miss G+ as well. As customizable discovery, discussion, inspiration and small-scale posting format it was very good.

  2. As a long time OSR blog reading lurker, I found G+ confusing and alienating. I could never figure out how to navigate it, bloggers frequently referenced it without useful links, and when I did end up on a G+ post it was often something half-baked that wasn't interesting without reading a lot of comments and usually not even then. I'm glad it pulled together a lot of Kickstarters and things but it was always a key feature of the OSR community that kept me from trying to move beyond lurking and reading (alongside mental illness and lack of self-confidence and a busy job). There was also a noticeable down-tick in the output of the blog I followed when G+ really started taking off among you all.

    So many new blogs seem to be forming this year that I've never seen before and a lot of them have interesting to say. I don't know if that's related to the end of G+ or not, but if so, I'm actively happy the fall of that platform has resulted in more people sharing things in a format I find intelligible.

    For what it's worth I don't like or actively use any other social media either, so I may just be an outlier without a lot of useful input here.

  3. The biggest problem with G+ being gone is that your CONTACT button on this page directs to you now-dead page there. ;)

  4. I still miss G+ for all the reasons you stated above and more. I don't know why they would ever bring it back, and even if they did the magic might be gone, but I would be there in a heartbeat.