Wednesday, 30 April 2014

POV: Moribund Google+ ?



A recent article in Slate about the future of Google+ caught my attention largely because it reflects pretty much what I feel about that social network, and about its photography community in particular.

I ought to have positive things to say about Google+ seeing that my profile received in excess of 436 million views so far. This is certainly a glitch, but seeing that number every time I log on to my profile is a tremendous ego boost.

But first things first...The New York Times pointed out recently that Google+ is useful to Google as an identity service by which the company can better track users across services like YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. In other words, it's data mining like so many other social networks (Facebook for example).

Late last year, I joined a number of Google+ photography forums/communities, and posted whatever I write on my blog and on Facebook. To be honest, I never felt connected. It just didn't feel comfortable. Yes, photographs look much better on Google+ that any other social network, but it left me cold.

I suspect it's because 99% of my network of 'friends' on Facebook consists of photographers I either know personally and of others who know them...a sort of two degrees of separation. For instance, the number of friends' requests I receive on Facebook jumps just before, during and after the annual Foundry Photojournalism Workshop....so there are real human connections behind many, if not all, of these.

Not so for Google+.

Moreover, I'm really not a community/forum kind of guy... and expecting comments on photographs I post, saying that how "delightful the expression is", how "extraordinary is the light that dissects the scene" or if the photograph is better in color or monochrome...etc is not a turn on for me. Naturally, if I get a compliment, I respond with my sincere thanks....but I'm not ready to expend so much time to read, respond and reciprocate the commentary.

Perhaps it's because I'm not really that interested in such feedback from people (despite the fact some are very talented photographers) in that particular type of social interface/forum. Face to face feedback (or from someone I already met and know) is different, because it's verbalized and is done in person, and there's much more to gain and offer.

I know others exult about Google+ as being the bees' knees for photographers, but to me, the value of joining the photographic communities is not worth the required time expenditure.

I'll remain as I am on Google+, and will retain my activity level at what it is...but not more than that. And if and when it really dies or withers...I won't care.