Hey Trey! And… Cupcakes?
What a topic. What a conversation this’ll be. Google+ in it’s earliest days was the internet’s greatest speakeasy. It was a private club and we had the secret handshake and the password. We didn’t have an in because we were already insta-famous or well-connected. We each got our invites like golden tickets in Wonka bars on the street. An overheard conversation. A friend passed on a link. An article mentioned Google was wading into the social biz. Internet nerds got word through some kind of early-adopter alert system… I got a call, from my big brother, while getting soaked, lugging my guitar and amps through a torrential downpour, into an IRL club to play a show for three people. He thought it might help my career if I got on a new social network early, “Maybe you could be one of the first musicians on there.”
My love story with Google+ has been chronicled in songs, and books, and keynotes, and posts and TED Talks. It’s origin story got intertwined with mine in a mobius-strip of a digital-Cinderella-story. Girl from the woods, in-the-middle-of-nowhere, sings for a million people on a new social network. It was all true. And all as remarkably accidental and unexpected as it sounds.
For me it was all about Hangouts. Ten-way video chat with whoever shows up. Thinking back on it now I realize how adorably innocent and naive it was. Hangouts, especially right at the beginning, was a sweet and totally revolutionary cultural exchange. The first night I opened one I sang for people on multiple continents at once. I strummed while watching the sunrise in Norway, when it was early evening where I was playing. I made friends and fans one-by-one, then eventually, with their help, we streamed it and gave the private club windows for thousands to look in. Before I knew it I was getting flown out to meet with Google. When does that kind of thing ever happen?
It was that innocent. Were we a bunch of people who were genuinely excited to discover each other and I think we wrote a little tiny chapter of internet history together. Trey’s photos. My Hangouts. Moritz’s code. Vic’s posts. Ron Garan’s view from space. Cliff’s live paintings. Alida's stories. Carter’s fiery discussions. Everyone clicking “join” when a Hangout popped into their stream. We shaped the culture of Google+. We built our own little utopian soap bubble. I didn’t realize it at the time, but something like that was fragile and precious by nature. How could it withstand being opened up to the entire public and a giant corporation with too many chefs in the kitchen and too many different visions. Some wanting to build something brand new, some wanting to compete with Facebook and some who never wanted to get into this social thing in the first place.
It was gorgeous and I loved every second of it. But yeah, what was the question? Hangouts. Hangouts and the people I met in them. That was the best thing. Ever. Hands. Down.
Ps. I had a camera going during that first Hangout. I actually caught the moment my life changed. But I was such a noob I didn’t know how to screen-cap. So I just have this footage of a video of me. Reacting.