Saturday, October 27, 2018

Clever but doomed, Google+ prepares to go

An orange plus sign and a question mark

This month Google announced that Google+, its "social layer" that at one time seemed on track to be Google, will end for "consumers" next August.

Update: March.

The implications for Blogger, including the status of Google+ comments and the transition path for bloggers who use Google+ for their profile pages, are not yet clear.

I'd like to take a moment, though, to reflect on what this tells us about our digital lives in general and our relationship to Google in particular.

Google+ was doomed to fail. And Google is a strange place.

Welcome to the Monkey House

For better or worse, Google is not like other big internet companies.

It is not so much your standard monolithic corporation as a collection of anarchist street gangs, all merrily building on or over each other.

That can be maddening when something you love breaks or goes away, and I do not defend it.

But for your own mental health I recommend thinking of everything you rely on at Google as a sort of mad experiment.

Because, apparently, everything is.

Google+ Was Doomed to Fail

Google+ burst on the scene in 2011 as Google's Facebook killer.

It offered a superior feature set and user interface, compared to Facebook, and a privacy culture and practice that is much less creepy.

None of these things mattered, or could matter. The only feature people go to Facebook for is their friends.

For that, Facebook users are prepared to endure much that Google+ could have improved.

Google+ generated some criticism during its "shock and awe" rollout phase, when it felt as though Google was preparing to force the Plus down everyone's throats.

But Google relented, and besides, this was never the important problem.

The issue is that Facebook is a kind of natural monopoly

Even though Google+ became home to some vibrant communities, and facilitated the creation of some brilliant stuff, it could never become the place where all your friends are.

Which is what it needed to succeed.

There is probably no room for a second Facebook on the Internet, barring regulation to break up Facebook's monopoly.

If Google+, superior to Facebook in almost every technical way, can't beat Facebook, no one can.

Implications for Blogger

August is ten months away, so no need to do anything yet. But here are some questions about Google+ and Blogger that are as yet unanswered.

  • Will Google+ comments be converted to regular Blogger comments? If not, will they persist after next August?
  • Similarly, what will become of Google+ profiles that are being used as Blogger profiles?
  • What will be the fate of Blogger blogs that are administered by Google+ brand pages? (Like this one?)
  • Will Google give Plus expats the option of converting their posts and collections to Blogger?
  • What will happen to blog posts that include embeds from Google+?

Beyond that, will Google now be open to reviving some of the social elements in Blogger, such as following?

Are there any elements of Google+, such as collections, that might be repurposed to augment Blogger in positive ways?

Also speculatively, and rhetorically, where do Plussers want to host their content after next August?

Because there is a lot to be said in favor of parking your creativity here on Blogger.


  1. I didn't use Google+ very much. It was just one more option I didn't need and then didn't find time to make use of. I hadn't thought about Blogger profiles being converted to Google+ and then back again, I guess.

    I hope this means Blogger will become a bigger priority at Google. It has been all but forgotten. Even the Blogger blog only gets an update once a year.

    Mainly I really want them to get something that works to migrate sites from WordPress to Blogger. At this time the only thing that works is to just forget the whole thing or manually import your WordPress posts, images, etc. That's not so bad if you only have a dozen or so posts. I have a site that started on Blogger, moved to WordPress for a few years and I'd like to move it out of WordPress back to Blogger. I can't find anything that works.

    Glad to see someone still posting about Blogger in 2018. I think it is very much under rated.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Maybe that is what is going on! I've seen plenty of evidence lately that Blogger is an ongoing concern.

      See, for instance, new themes last year, and this year upgrading Blogger to multiple log-in status.

      I agree the platform has felt neglected for a long time. Better import tools (from WordPress, Google+, and beyond) would be a real plus!

  2. Which social media do you recommend to transit on senset of Google+, Please ?

    1. Sorry to say I have no recommendations on that score. Open to suggestions, actually.

      I do think that Blogger is a strong contender as a place to put your original content, whatever networks you share it on.

  3. Thanks your reply
    Waiting import tools from Google+ to blogger blogs

  4. I am hoping for some clear instructions from Google, for bloggers who are using G+ comments, or G+ profiles to comment (that applies to some of my readers from WP)

    1. Me too!

      We are really seeing Google at its most anarchic. There are so many unanswered questions at this point!