Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can Google+ Overtake Blogs and Forum?

I had a random thought/observation as I did my morning social media rounds. A number of people in my gaming circles, in the main not the “usual suspects”, are consistently drumming up interesting, thought-provoking stream updates (think Facebook status update or Twitter tweet).

The discussions are frankly at time rating a few notches higher on dynamo-meter (at least in quantity terms) than similar discussions on blogs or forums I follow, some racking upwards of 90 comments in a few hours time.

It makes me wonder about the overall arc of this new outlet: does it have the potential to overtake our old media as the go-to-source for our corner of the hobby? Will it just become another stream or is it all just a flash in the pan?

I can think of several features that undercut the utility of the platform, but Hell for discussion's sake I will take the side of “yes, it just may well become a significant part of our media toolbox.”

My personal observation is that at least three things feeding this trend:
1. The boom of online game sessions in the medium—which in turn seems to be building up new sets of stronger, more direct relationships based on real activity.

2. The lack of anonymity which not surprisingly cuts down on the temptation to engage in the seemingly-consequence free behavior we all know and love from the last decade of the Internet.

3. The sense that people you know from gaming have more to them than just gaming.

What's the case for? What's the case against?


  1. I like Google+ and use it extensively as part of my gaming activity social outlet. My blog posts have dwindled (mostly due to time constraints due to high ops tempo for me in real life). Google+ lets me interact with the gaming community in shorter bursts. I think I'll try to keep the blog to less frequent but more involved content/project update posts while G+ will be more for the quick update. At least that seems how it seems to be working for me now.

  2. I am not really for or against when it comes down to yet. I still haven't made the jump from Facebook to Google yet. Keyword here is yet. I have to admit to some fatigue with both the few gaming blogs I have been keeping up and ye old FB. Maybe time to shake it up?

  3. One of the uses of the blog in my local gaming group is, ironically, as a kind of archive for more transient forum and (recently) G+ conversations. I suspect that arc will become sharper. The result may be better blog posts, but with less interaction.

  4. The lack of anonymity/'fake' IDs also has a massive negative effect on uptake and on some forms of RP.

  5. Yeah, until and unless G+ gives you a better way to search and access posts more than 250 back in your stream, it replaces FB, not blogs. No way am I going to post something involved like a review, game recap, optional rule or the like on G+... instead I'll post to my blog and just link from G+. G+ is good for announcements and discussions, and I love Hangout for gaming, but the ephemeral nature of posting there is an issue as far as putting any real work into sharing.

  6. @Joshua
    the ephemeral nature of posting there is an issue as far as putting any real work into sharing

    Given my own recent concerns that's a big point "against" in terms of durability of ideas, discussions, content, etc.

    Perhaps some synergy then with other media? I have been contemplating putting up a good old-fashioned static website as a go-to place for some of the content here on the blog.

  7. @Post
    The lack of anonymity/'fake' IDs also has a massive negative effect on uptake and on some forms of RP.

    How so? You mean by people who feel a pressing real-life need not to have an "out" public persona.

    Note I am not dismissing this out of hand, I had such a need a few years back myself, just want to clarify where you were coming from.

  8. Hey Cake & Gang,

    Google Plus doesn't interest me. But neither does Facebook or Twitter.

    Maybe someday. Just not today.


  9. Duh, I forgot to add if I thought it could overtake blogs. It might because of the quick little bursts of stuff. Makes it kind of easy and right away. Still not for me, but who knows down the line.

    Hope you're well, Cake. Catch you next time.

  10. I don't really feel like putting my real name on public forums. All it takes is one loony tunes to dislike something you said and make life difficult, or potentially worse. In the real world, when I walk around in public having a conversation with my friends, a loony tune can hear me, but has no idea who I am. I walk away, and they are left in the dust. The same is definitely not true on the Internet. Sure, it may cut down on unwanted behavior associated to no-consequence posting, but it also opens people up to the possibility of saying something innocently and well stated that someone else may not take kindly to. Knowing your real name, and having the ability to run to google and do a search on you, and find out where you post, who you work for, or where you live is not something I feel comfortable at this point dealing with. So I would prefer to not put myself in that position. Of course for many people it will never come up as an issue. But, like identity theft, those it affects it can affect badly. So I'd simply rather not.

    On the other hand, Google+ sounds like it has some interesting features.

  11. VBWyrde: I don't want my real name on them either. Bloggers who know me, know my real name and I'm okay with that. But I am against Google making people post their real names on Google Plus.

  12. I too am a big fan of anonymity. Partially for the "looney tunes" reasons VBWyrde mentioned, and partially just because I like to keep my professional life (which is very accessible on the web) completely separate from my personal/hobby life. My hobby life is where I come to escape from my professional life, so I really don't want the two worlds to overlap in any way.

  13. I posted my comment to this blog entry on Google+

    (I guess that in itself is a comment!)


  14. There are a few features which have potential:

    Sparks - could become a great blog aggregator if you could customise it with Feed URLs rather than it being a glorified search tool. At the moment the keyword searching is just not sophisticated enough to be useful. for example if I create a spark about "Roleplaying" it is dominated by MMORPG games and not Tabletop Roleplaying games.

    Huddle (G+ Mobile App) - could usher in a new age of real time real world roleplaying, possibly with some form of check-in like foursquare.

    Circles - Already means I can easily compartmentalise my roleplaying/public/professional/family personas easily.

    It's very early days for G+ and I can only see it getting better when more features get plussed, I suspect blogger+ is not that far away from being completed.

    The real issue is will it gather enough momentum to convince FB users to switch. I suspect that this question relies on just how much you use google's family of "services" and the critical weight of friends you need to migrate to G+ from FB before the decision is made for you.

  15. G+ enables people to actually play RPG's, so I guess that's a good thing. I can already see a difference in posting frequency for a lot of blogs, so it is definitely stealing activity away from the regular blogosphere.

    I'm still skeptical about how regular Blogger entities are going to be 'folded in' (or not). Google will do what maximizes their ad business, and it certainly looks to be about targeted advertising (creating a 'phone book' of real identities and thus real ad targets).

    Those of us not 'crossing over' are definitely left behind, as there have already been references to discussions, etc. on G+ that we don't have access to.

    Seems very much like a dividing 'wedge', but that's just my opinion.

    I miss my typewriter.

  16. @scottsz
    That exclusivity is the one of the bigger "cons" on my list. A big "for instance" appearing on Alex's site earlier today:

    The larger concern about Google becoming such a monopoly I hear you loud and clear. It troubles me too.

    Totally understand, like I mentioned my own concern would have been the linking of my professional identity to such a scurrilous activity as roleplaying.

    Though it undermines the anonymity stripping, it's fairly easy to set up a dummy account (I suggest using the avatar and handle you use for blogging so that people know to add you.) Personally I would rather have people participate like that then not get involved simply because of that concern.

  17. It seems like you can get out of the G+ environment what you want out of it, but it is kinda hard to reduce the amount of noise (in noise/signal ratio sense). I'm not getting much out of it in an open-air public area way, though I'm certainly able to participate in conversations with more people now if I feel like it. This brings up the question 'How much do I want to do that?' - I'm kinda a curmudgeon. I do really like the ability to target things, but it is mostly a gaming platform for me.

    I don't think it's going to supplant blogging as it stands right now.

  18. I will always prefer a forum over a blog (haven't used Google+ yet) for posting because it allows me and others who wish to comment the ability to revisit the same comment thread with ease. Bloggers are constantly moving on to "new" topics and only occasionally revisit older topics, and only if the blogger brings it up. New comments on old blog topics are rarely if ever seen. You can start your own blog, of course, but the followers will be different.

  19. @ckutalik - Hey thanks for that thought. Can you give me some specifics, or a link, as to how to set up a dummy account on Google+? If it is possible to do that, I'd like to take a peek and see what all the fuss is about. And also, I totally agree with you about not wanting to mix personal and professional life. Or even various aspects of my personal online life with others. One of the great advantages of the Internet has been my ability to segment my interests with different aliases. I prefer to be able to do that.

    As for blogger, OMG... it is very possible, now that I think about it, that Google will decide to revamp their permissions to Blogger and not allow anyone to blog with an alias. Think I may start looking for a new home for my blog then.