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Effluvium From Sonya's Brain, LiveJournal Edition

On Google+, Social Media & Web-Apps

OK, I’m back. It’s only been…what? A year and a half or so? How the time just flies.

I posted something to Google+ that got me thinking it would be a good thing to also put on my blog. Here’s the original post (with linky goodness added!):

OK, I’m just going to say it: There’s a reason you don’t see many posts from me on Google+…simply put, and despite being a professional geek, I’m a tech-crank who really HATES web-apps. From the earliest incarnations of webmail to the current crop of social sites drenched in web 2.0 “goodness,” the fact remains that I just want the superior level of integration—and, being a Mac geek, the superior UI—that a native application brings.

I don’t like “living in the browser.” UIs are inconsistent, notifications are insufficient, I have to hop from tab to tab to see everything I want to see or post everywhere I want to post (holy copy-pasta, Batman!), and I haven’t met the browser yet that doesn’t bog down or crash on me with all the tabs I open just while browsing. I’ve sampled the browser extensions for all the majors, I’ve tried the “social browsers” like Flock (R.I.P.) and Rockmelt. They just don’t do it for me.

This is why I’ve actually put up with an AIR app—Tweetdeck, in this case—to handle my social media. (And hate AIR…like I said in a previous post, I want native Mac and iOS apps with the same feature-set and plans to support Google+ once its API is released. I’ll even pay for them!) Its columns show me everything I want to see in one place, and I can publish to one, all, or a selected mix of the sites at the same time. Or at least I could until Google+ came along.

Simply put, having to go to a separate place, scroll through a stream that doesn’t collapse lengthy comment threads, and copy-paste my posts creates enough additional friction that it makes me not want to deal with it despite really wanting to like Google+. Hell, I still resent having to go to Facebook in my browser to reply to PMs, event invites, and the like. Is it any wonder my favorite social utility on the web is Twitter? There’s almost nothing I need to actually go to the Twitter web site to do. If I only ever had to go to the Google+ site to manage my friends & profile, and maybe finally try a Hangout, I’d be a happy camper.

Yes, I get that Google+ is richer than Twitter, and even a little more so than Facebook in what and how you can post. But as long as I have to drink the “living in the browser” kool-aid and can’t interact with the service the way I want to, Google+ is going to remain a second-class service for me. This makes me sad.

The thing is, I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. If you’re going to create an online service that aims to act like a public utility, as opposed to just a way to force ads in front of eyes, you need to create APIs that allow people to use 3rd party apps which interact with your service the way they want to rather than the way you think they should.

None of which is to say that you shouldn’t try to make your web-based experience the best you possibly can. Sure, you want to be “sticky” to all those eyeballs out there and, yes, you want to serve up some ads and make some money. I get that. And, hey, some people actually prefer living in the browser. I really don’t understand them at all, but “different strokes” and all that.

In the meantime, Google, do hurry up and let me use Google+ the way I want to so that it can be truly useful to me. I’ve been wanting any excuse to kick Facebook as far to the curb as I can for some time now. And social media app developers (I’m looking at you, Socialite!), please support Google+ to the fullest ASAP after Google releases the API.

PS: And while you’re at it, if you’re a multi-service social media app like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, or Socialite, please let me filter my damned Facebook feed by friend-groups. Do this and I’ll be in nerdvana and love you forever. If I could code it myself, I would.

Originally published at Effluvium From Sonya's Brain