Monday, September 24, 2007

Shared Stuff from macbeach

I saw this new feature pointed out on one of the blogs that follow Google. Tried it of course.

Hard to figure out what it is about. Is it the beginning of a Facebook competitor? Long way to go if so. I created a brand new Orkut ID to keep track of whatever they plan to do there. It's ten times faster than Facebook, and may have as many or more users (worldwide), but will it draw many Facebook users away?

What has puzzled me for some time though is the huge overlaps between existing Google products. Yes indeed it is reminiscent of overlapping Microsoft products that preceded the big bloat: "Hey, lets build the web browser into the desktop interface so it loads faster!". "Hey lets put more desktop features in the web browser so that, err, we can run random malware directly off the Internet!"

Surely Google won't let themselves fall prey to the same mid-age spare tire that now cripples Microsoft and Yahoo. Or will they?

Anyway, I can now "share stuff" as I browse, in yet another way. Previous ways include Google Notebook, shared bookmarks, "blogthis", and a couple of things built into Google reader. Oh, and Google Docs. I can even point most of these things at one another, making feeds of Google Reader entries that can show up on a blog, or blog entries that show up on Google reader. The combinations seem endless, and you have to wonder if you couldn't construct some sort of circular set of references that would end the world as we know it, or at least the Google part of it.

Google's strength remains (I think) its ability to hook up massive numbers of servers, handle more traffic than almost anyone else, and keep it all responsive (Yahoo, Flickr, Live, and Facebook are often incredibly slow considering what has long been known about the need to stay within end-user attention spans... now shorter than ever). But why have dozens of overlapping capabilities "just because we can"? Won't people burn out on this stuff eventually?

Maybe they've done usability studies that say no. I just know I that I'm not always sure I'm making optimal se of all this functionality, and from reading Google Groups (another redundant sharing mechanism) I'm not sure anyone else has figured it all out either.

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