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    • So, now I'm curious as to everyone's thoughts as to "What Went Wrong??"

      Google really kind of fucked it up and everything went away. That was a real bummer, because they had something great going, as everyone can see from the great posts above. After Vic Gundotra left (I really liked him and Bradley Horowitz and so many other people on the team), the writing was on the wall and Google sent it out to pasture for five years until they finally announced they were shutting it down.

      I agree with @thomashawk above that they should have spent another $500mil (sounds like a lot to us mere mortals, but it is not much to them) to continue the effort and try new things.

      I have a pretty good theory on why they shut it down. I also have a logical argument against this reason.

      10+ years ago when I used to work in big corporations (like Andersen Consulting / Accenture) before I became a full-time artist I came to understand organizational dynamics. Sometimes, great plans go astray in execution, and it’s never exactly one person’s fault. Such is the nature of corporations.

      I firmly believe was hesitation about whether or not Google wanted to play the “social” game or not. Google’s mission has always been to organize the world’s information on the way to building the ultimate AI. So, “social” was sort of a sub-business or experiment. They have many experiments going on at Google. They kill them quite a bit. I remember them asking me to help out with "Google Schemer" and asked me to promote their physical "Pinman" at SXSW (who was their Google Maps mascot) and all this other stupid shit... they never paid me or anything, but they were never shy to ask for favors. Most of these ideas they killed after they didn't work, just like Google+.

      And here’s my logical argument against their decision to get out of social. I do not agree that building a “social network” is not congruent with the ultimate task of building the ultimate AI. That was a double-negative, so let me be clear: I believe that investing in a social network is congruent with building the ultimate AI.

      I believe that observing social behavior would feed important human cultural data into that AI. Right now the AI is being fed data by looking at Google searches, seeing where mobile phones go, which ads to people click on in YouTube, what are people Google-translating, how are people responding in emails, android photos, etc. There are thousands of data-inputs that are feeding this ultimate AI. I believe that observing hundreds of millions of people interacting on a social network would have provided additional invaluable behavioral and cultural data to that construct.

      I know Sergey Brin, and note I’m not his best friend or anything, but we have talked on many occasions at Google X, at conferences, at Google Zeitgeist, etc. It started about eight years ago when he invited me to spend the day with him at Google X and present something to his team. I can't really talk about that because I signed a lot of forms, but that was the beginning of a nice and casual friendship. Sergey is also quite the hobbyist photographer! I know he’s a very nice and kind gentleman. I totally trust him. And I believe that he would want an AI to be very helpful to humanity. It can help solve so many problems that humanity is having on the meta level. Even though he probably played a role in shuttling Google+, maybe they have another social experiment up their sleeves. I have some ideas for that I can talk about in a future post!

      I'll end with a positive note, a photo of some of the amazing people I met during the San Francisco photo walk because of Google+! :) Hi y'all!

    • OMG! I haven’t seen that video in so long - and I totally forgot some of that stuff until I saw it again. What a FABULOUS morning that was! I remember my intent to jump SO HIGH - then seeing the video and thinking that I had I a lonnnnng way to being the gazelle I imagined in my mind! Hahah...

      And hey, maybe Kara Swisher was blackout drunk for a couple of years. What else could explain such a perplexing statement?

      Did I just say that with my outside voice?
      Jeepers.

      PS: and full disclosure: I don’t even know who Kara Swisher is, so am not in any way, shape or form casting aspertions upon her character or drinking habits. But seriously... the folks like her who said such idiotic things about G+ (and there were many) were sans clue to such an astounding extent it just goads me into make up fictitious (or were they? We’ll never know.) reasons why for their brazen departure from actual reality. Who knows, maybe they were paid well.

    • ...*making notes in diary ... KHut says that, for a fact, she saw Kara Swisher blacked out and dry heaving, several times, in the early days of G+, and has video evidence...*

      Got it! Thanks.

    • Oh, man, I had so many great times and made so many friends I don't even know where to start.

      But I showed up early in part because I was a blogger and knew just how important Google was to that early work. I figured that being on Google+ would be great for search engine ranking, if nothing else.

      The early days brought lots of people who were active on FriendFeed or other places, along with a few social newbies too. And it was nicer than Facebook.

      I have many of the same feelings about what I'm seeing happen here.

      I'm most saddened because while most of what I did isn't worth saving, there were quite a few memories that we had together, whether being at the last Space Shuttle launch, or going to Coachella, or Yosemite, or introducing many companies and ideas. I hope Google offers a way to save that history and the community's participation in them.

      And I am intrigued by this new space and whether it can grow into something really relevant beyond a single thread. Our time and attention is so fractured these days that it's hard to make space for something new.

    • I always forget that we met because of that elf meme! 😂 What a meet-cute! "Well you see, he was an astronaut in space, and I was a singer on earth and someone put us in viral meme of elves dancing and well... The rest is history." Bahaha.

      Omg. I found it! @Scobleizer you're in it too!

    • Karen! This is turning into such a fabulous reunion party now! I love what you said and I couldn't agree more. You brought up a point that I think I'd forgotten, and now I wonder if this held true for all of us, so I'll ask it as a question to the panel... When you signed up to G+ did you have a sense of getting a clean slate, a blank canvas, a fresh start to present yourself in a new way? To try new things? To connect outside of your established real-life social circles? I know I did and I think it helped to shape my experience in a pretty powerful way.

      As an artist, on Facebook I always felt like I was bouncing around inside a very small box of people who already knew me. And those people already knew me in a way that related to them. I was a classmate, a family member, a friend of a friend of a friend... But I never felt like I could be an artist first to them. I was a distant cousin, or a kid they bullied in kindergarten not a pop star. 😂

      When I signed up for G+ the first thing I felt was a rush of freedom. I remember thinking, "I can be anything I want here. No one knows me yet. I can be an artist first."

      I think I made myself up to be bolder and braver than I'd ever been. I made up my "laughing in the face of the lion" and "fierce joy" taglines for my profile on that first day. And then, I had to become that version of me I made up. I did get braver and bolder and more fiercely joyful than I've ever been. And it was more me than I ever was before.

    • @Chris Sorry I took a sec to respond to this one! 

      Reading Louis' personal memory of that day actually got me a little teary. The whole experience of being embraced by the community on G+ and then by Google itself was such a whirlwind. It was lightning out of a clear sky. Once it took hold everything went so fast. Everything was so new. I was just kinda hanging onto the magic carpet and marveling at the view. I was so proud to be in the same room with people like Vic and Louis, eventually people like @treyratcliff and @rgaran. I never went to college. I was proud of who I was as an artist, but I hadn’t been in the world much. To have such brilliant minds. Such accomplished company invite me in, and sit rapt with attention as I sang and answered questions and told stories. “Empowering” barely touches the profound impact that had on me as a person.

      Before all of that I’d been practicing and playing shows and writing songs and day dreaming about being discovered… But it was always a fantasy of some record exec in the back of club saying, “You’re a star, kid!” It was never a vision of me and my laptop in my room with people from all over the world on the other side of the screen and the world’s biggest tech company scratching their heads in board meetings saying, “Well, we built it so people could chat with their families and hold bi-coastal business meetings, but some girl keeps breaking it by singing into the damn thing!”

      I think that day at Googleplex gave me a glimpse of the person I wanted to be. Google treated me with such kindness and respect, from day one. Talk about giving women a voice! They gave my voice a chance to soar and showed me that I could use my voice for more than just singing. Since that day I’ve given so many talks and keynotes and workshops at colleges and schools all over the country… I sat in that chair and said I wanted to travel the world and sample the sounds, I did that. That day sowed many seeds, but most of all it got me to stop day dreaming about being discovered, and made me realize there was so much more to discover in myself and the people around me. Reading what Vic said to Louis, that was like an “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment. You rarely get a chance to hear what people say about you behind closed doors.  The idea that I moved that guy with my music, that’s something I’ll hold in my heart now.

      So, the song! I’ll never forget how my producer Ram and I wrote it. It’s forever anchored in that time and place. I was the night of my first Hangout Concert. We were playing for people ten-at-a-time as they lined-up around the digital block to get in. Faced the closest thing I’d ever had to a sold-out club – even if it was inside my computer – I didn’t want to stop until I’d sung for every last person. So it must’ve been four or five hours in. We stopped at six. Six hours straight. I remember I didn’t realize my feet were numb ’til I stopped singing. We’d run out of songs, so Ram started jamming out a little riff on his bass… And I started freestyling. I just sang about what was happening. Every word was true. I saw the sunrise in Norway when someone in the Hangout faced their laptop the their own apartment window.  I’d never felt seen like that before. So alive. So in love. Yeah, every word was just the truth of what I felt and what had happened. We wrote most of it right there. In the moment. Finished it the next day and it became an ode to that time and to all the people who stepped in and changed my life just by listening. I really felt like I’d never be alone, that we’d found and made a place where we belong together.

      Ps. @Scobleizer Do you remember the second concert when you tried to get in and couldn't? People kept saying, "Omg! Robert Scoble is trying to get in" and I didn't know the tech world at all, I had no idea who you were, so I was like, "Sorry Robert! Hangout's full!" People thought I was so sassy... I just had no idea... 😂

    • Thats exactly how I felt.
      I started followingTrey on Flickr when he lived here in Austin when he was just starting the SIC brand and doing local photowalks, and my journey as a photographer was still in its infancy.
      Soon thereafter Google+ came along and Trey started doing his Variety Show, which was a glorified G+ hangout featuring a variety of artistically inclined people.
      Trey had me co-host along with Thomas Hawk and Khut quite a few times.
      To me it was a wonderland.
      Every week I'd meet and get to talk to, and mostly annoy, amazing people I'd never even heard of! By the end of the show I was fascinated by all of them, including you, Daria.
      I really was not even in league, talent-wise, with these any of these people.
      I knew. They knew it. Trey fer sure knew it.
      But, I felt so blessed to be along for the ride.
      Those were the salad days.

      The amazing part of it all was just how positive it all was. I swear it was all smiles, laughing and sharing and growing together.
      It was Social Artopia.

      You're lucky if you find a space and time like that even once in your life.
      I'm glad I was invited along and prescient enough to realize how good it was in the moment and soaked it all in.

    • Yeah! I thought that was fun actually. The challenge of getting to know you! Sort of like having to talk your wayinto a hot nightclub.

    • Did anyone on the panel read this epic tweetstorm from Morgan Knutson? I thought it was fascinating but I dunno what's true. I knew some of the people he mentions though, like Andy Hertzfeld, and his description of him sounds right ("A god damned saint").

    • I did read it. Mixed feelings. I thought much of it was too negative in tone and too self-agrandizing. In general I have a rule to try not to say negative things about others online, but some of the article felt more critical than I think appropriate. I think there were elements of truth in it though. Having spent time on campus with a lot of Googlers during that period I was aware of the way the offices of G+ were in were in an exclusive building with Larry Page with a private cafe. I was aware of how the bonuses were structured to promote Google+. Google really had gone all in. I can understand his perspective a bit I suppose but sometimes it’s easy to take potshots in hindsight.

    • Wow. That was a great read.

      Was the guy a bit self serving? Sure.

      Does he sound like Jack Black busting through the Google office like a Rhino after a sixer of Mountain Dew? Obviously. But, come on. Other than a few rando typos that was a really informative read.

      I dropped out of the Corporate scene over a decade ago because I was seeing the exact same thing I was reading right there. Grand gestures, bloated ego's holding worthless meetings and accomplishing nothing.

      It made me sick.

      I actually want to accomplish something when I go to work every day. I care about what I'm doing. So many of the people I saw rising up through the ranks were morons who just happened to excel at stroking the ego's of those over their head. They had no idea what was even happening on the floor of the company and couldn't care less.

      They all just talked constantly about their stock options and the potential worth when we went public. None of them actually cared if we were delivering on the promise of our company.

      It was depressing.

      At a corporate get away with the CEO/Founder of our company he asked me a direct question in front of a lot of important people about our new company meme. I answered honestly on why I thought it was missing the mark. He literally applauded my answer and, reluctantly, every else at the table joined in. I felt elated. It should have occurred to me that the people applauding had created the meme in the first place.

      The next morning our Regional VP pulled me aside and said that he respected my answer, but he was sure I would be fired within a month. He said, "Never answer a question that honestly again."

      The next Monday he tendered his own resignation saying that his wife wanted to move closer to her family across the country. At lunch he advised me to immediately begin looking for another job. I didn't believe him. Our CEO applauded me, man! This can't be how it is.

      But, of course, he was right. The rats were jumping off the ship and I should have jumped with them.

      With in a month I was escorted out of the building.

      So, yeah. I really appreciated that article by Morgan.

    • I know, right Daria? “More than I’d ever been before.” Perfect words for the entire experience and the vistas it opened up. I’m certain I wouldn’t have nearly the opportunities I do now, had I not met the soaring bunch of creative marvels (like you!) that saw the window open, took the risk and leapt into a new life of our own creation. I mean, who GETS those opportunities?? I think we are blessed beyond measure that we did.. and acted upon it. I am grateful every day. Xoxoxo

    • Remember the part in "The Social Network" where Zuckerberg is using Facebook to cheat on his art history final? He explains to Eduardo that he's posted pictures of the paintings he was supposed to write about and every few hours he makes a comment to "stir the pot" and keep the conversation going...

      Realized none of us have posted in here for a couple days so I'm stirring the pot 😜

      @treyratcliff any more questions for us?

    • Glad to see you back here, Daria. 🙂 I was wondering what to do with some other questions people asked me to ask the panel. From @louisgray :

      A successful service often needs three things: Relevance, Community and Evolution. (Simply said... being on topic, having cool people, and continuing to be updated)

      For the panelists, what drew you to G+ in the first place, and what would you have done differently?

      Disclosure for those who don't know: I work at Google and was on the initial Google+ marketing team in 2011.

      What I've seen from communities on the Web is they translate from real world connections or spawn them. Did you find that Google+ drew you to people you already knew, or did you instead find that you discovered people on the service who are part of your network today?

      (Same disclosure)

    You've been invited!