Google+ meaningful social experience (not yet)

Google+ allows to follow celebrities (like twitter) and comment on their post (like Facebook). The result is a disaster. Time and time again, I see picture posts being plussed into stratosphere and having hundreds of comments, 99.9% of those saying “Hey, cool, Mr…. Nice photo, Mr. …” At times I wonder if Sergey is happy with this tool.

My hunch is that they are mixing private and public in a strange way, trying to lure users by providing everything what facebook does and more on top of it, killing signal by noise. Interesting times we live in.


Development update

Yesterday, we reached a couple of  milestones:

1. Our app finally was able to send first sms

2. I created couple of users and made them friends with each other

And here is our new logo.


For the history, old logo.

full dece sans free 2


Facebook's weakness is inherent in its strengh

However, the success of Facebook is what is killing Facebook. Near its inception, college friends would post photos and inside jokes with each other. They would meet acquaintances through Facebook that would ultimately become real friends. Now, it seems that literally everyone and their mothers has a Facebook account. The average number of ‘friends’ is now 130 and climbing – personally, I have found that most of my ‘friends’ have at least double that amount. It’s become a social norm to connect on Facebook, and seen as almost rude if a friend request is denied. 
Author argues that Google has got circles right. Maybe. But Google+ started with very complex proposition for users, throwing them into managing all their circles at once. It is very good for managing communication between different medium-far circles, like your sport team vs. work colleagues vs. old school buddies. However, it does not take into account, that different proximity circles will use different communication tools and techniques. And Google is yet to convince normal users (not IT geeks, who jumped onboard and queued for invites) to create profile at Google+. 
We try to go between Facebook and Google+ by concentrating on being the simplest and most useful tool for communicating with the closest friends. That's our chance.


Facebook overload and irrelevance

My sentiment about irrelevance of facebook to the really strong links in my life is echoed by many, and Eran Hammer-Lahav really nails it in this article “All these brilliant people at facebook make me sad”:

erhanFacebook doesn’t provide me with anything useful. When it comes to staying connected to the people I care about, they either live with me, I talk to them on the phone weekly, or have an annual dinner when I visit Israel or New York. This is just enough for me. There is a reason why I am not in touch with people from high school, the army, or film school. We all moved on, became different people, changed context, and lost the common thread that united us at the time. My personal Facebook experience of finding long lost friends is mostly a short awkward exchange followed by a one sided stream of useless information.

Read full article here http://hueniverse.com/2010/11/all-these-brilliant-people-at-facebook-make-me-sad/


What is osom.me?

Have you ever felt overloaded by noise coming from hundreds of so-called friends on facebook or twitter?  Social pressure makes us accept connections with many people whom we barely know or care about. However, internet has not delivered yet any new and improved tool that would improve connection with the people that we care about most. We still use occasional emails, phonecalls and skype to chaotically communicate with our best friends. Even when we subscribe to their status updates on facebook or twitter, they rarely post intimate information about how they feel or what they are up to, because both mediums are public by default, and we see people adopt them to project their public image to those hundreds that do not really care about them. With rare exceptions, people adopted culture of posting their success or bragging stories spiced up with lol videos and jokes on those networks.

I think real friendship is much more than sharing favorite youtube videos or answering online quizzes. It is about sharing what you really think, even if this is not a popular opinion, without having to care how your potential employer might look at it couple of years later.

That is why I undertook to develop a new tool, that would keep me connected realtime to several people who have largest share of my heart. As I see it, such tool would have to satisfy several criterion

1) Limited number of connections, enforced by the system, to make each connection a limited and valuable resource. When you can make only limited number of connections (studies indicate that most people have less than 7 real friends) it makes you choose carefully, who you connect with. (Good study on this is available here http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2 by Paul Adams)

2) Be closed by default to encourage openminded expression. So, status feeds will be visible only to a bunch of real friends, no “like or retweet’" buttons. Well, maybe anonymous retweet, that would strip author’s identity.

This is what we have now with regular phonecalls and face-to-face meetings. However, communications technology can add more speed and convenience to this.

3) Be quick and immediate. Something like twitter from several closest people that goes right into your brain, not stopping even when you are not in front of your desktop at home or office. Also, quality of information, relevance, hopefully much better than twitter. Technically, it should be very easy to update own status and see what others have shared. I want it to work for anybody, anywhere. The best solution that I can think about, is … Well, I guess it rules out any expensive smartphones. Something simpler and more direct. Guess?

4) Finally, it should have means to encourage participation, because “lurker” model, where 10% of users generate 90% of content  is not going to work here. I think about sort of quid pro quo arrangement, that would let you see others’ status updates, if you post your couple of time a day.