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    • Trey, "I think staring at your FB feed is the exact same as staring into the refrigerator when you're not even hungry." is now my all time favorite explaination of Facebook. So so perfect! I totally relate, G+ was kinda a thrill to open up every day. I never knew what gorgeous photo would be floating down the stream, or whether someone ridiculously famous or outrageously interesting was going to comment on something, and then those "Join Hangout" buttons popping up at all hours of the day and night made every mintute into a possible meet-cute or adventure. Facebook is just, ugh. I don't open it at all any more.

      And yes, brunch with you, Uncle Ron The Astronaut (which is what I call him now, by the way, we should get him on this thread! We were just texting about G+ yesterday!) and Vic at The Driskill in Austin Texas on my birthday was mindblowing. There's so many stories. That's actually another one of G+'s magical-fairy-dust-features: It made stuff happen in real life! Friendships, parties, concerts, relationships, fandoms, opportunities, connections, photowalks, and totally hilarious stories. No other social network has so effortlessly translated into real life experiences like that, at least not that I know of and not for me. I think it was again a side-effect from Hangouts. When I would meet people in person who I'd hung out with often, they already felt like close friends. We'd go in for a hug without even thinking about it. When I got to play shows around the world my Hangout friends would be my personal tour guides! Tel Aviv. Scotland. Chicago. London. LA. It was crazy.

      Speaking of funny stories... Trey, remember when we went around that Zeitgiest cocktail reception arm-in-arm introducing ourselves as completely different people to everyone we met?! I think you told one lady you were a goat farmer. And you tried to talk me into saying hi to Malcolm Gladwell but I was too nerd-struck. And then you totally walked up to Azaelia Banks and told her, "I don't know who you are, but you're fabulous!" Yeah, so many priceless moments online and IRL.

      Ps. I just found these pics on Google+, their trusty search bar still works! Just made me realize I gotta go download all my photos and stuff offa there!

    • That's an interesting thought, kinda like, "a person is smart, people are stupid". Maybe something about Google+ – the face-to-face of Hangouts, the long beta period when most of us joined – created a much more personal, human connection between people, whereas FB and Twitter are more like mob-mentality, and because of that things over there can get really outta hand really fast. I loved the optimism of the vibe we created there. I guess as creators it's always something we can cultivate in our own communities through the work we do and how we communicate with our audiences, but that inherent sweetness was super special.

    • This is probably a crazy thought, but I wonder if Larry and Sergey did their moonshot-or-bust thing with Google+ and when it didn't turn out to be a moonshot, they lost interest. It didn't turn out to be a place where the stars would promote movies, but it did turn out to have some great local communities.

      Do you think they could be persuaded to sell it to someone who has more modest aspirations for it? SmugMug bought Flickr and I don't think anyone saw that coming.

    • Yes, Chris, I know what you mean about the Romans being placated with bloodsport.

      I can get a little philosophical about "online sociology" here, I suppose. Negativity breeds and attracts more negative people, and of course it's the polar opposite for positivity. The negativity online (especially on Facebook) sounds a lot louder, because all the Negative Nancies have something to vociferously complain about. On the other hand, positive people generally don't comment much because everything is pretty okay in their life.

      What I notice, even more, nowadays on Facebook is that positive, optimistic people don't even use Facebook much anymore. Why dip a toe in the cesspool?

      The core problem with all the complainers out there is tied to a larger sociological issue that feeds the importance of the overall ego. People's egos create elaborate stories in their mind of how the world should work, how their lives should go, and how X person is supposed to do Y. And now, these online platforms have created a structure that supports that story and encourages them to agree with one group out of fear for another group.

      It's all quite poisonous on and individual level and dangerous on the meta-group level. Not to sound overly solipsistic, but I think the antidote to all that poison is creativity and love. I believe it's up to artists and creatives to save the world! Whenever you're listening to a transcendent song, viewing a beautiful painting, eating a ridiculously awesome meal, watching brilliant film, etc - everything totally zens out. Imagine if we could get all 8 billion people on the planet to chill the fuck out a little bit! :)

      Now, that's a rather long way of saying that G+ definitely felt like a place for all sorts of creatives: painters, chefs, dancers, photographers, performers, etc to gather as if in a Parisian salon during the artistic periods. I think of each of us as Owen Wilson's character in those scenes in Gertrude Stein's salon with everyone from Dali to Picasso to Fitzgerald from Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

      Now that G+ is gone, where are we all supposed to gather?

    • Hey panel, we got a question from @CygnusX1 in another thread and I wonder what you think (edited by me for brevity):

      My take on the decision to bin G+ because of privacy lapses was it lacked credibility.

      If G+ was leaky, you would fix the leak rather than throw the bucket away.

      My suspicion is the platform was not monetising its subscriber base to sufficient degree.

      Ironically, this is one of the many reasons why users did like G+. There was not the sense that you were being used as data-fodder for someone.

      I would be interested to hear what the panel thinks.

    • My take on the decision to bin G+ because of privacy lapses was it lacked credibility.

      If G+ was leaky, you would fix the leak rather than throw the bucket away.

      My suspicion is the platform was not monetising its subscriber base to sufficient degree.

      Ironically, this is one of the many reasons why users did like G+. There was not the sense that you were being used as data-fodder for someone.

      I would be interested to hear what the panel thinks.

      Hi @CygnusX1 :) I agree the "angle" to shut down G+ because of a minor privacy breach doesn't pass the sniff-test. I would have appreciated if they were more forthright and simply said, "We have decided it's not in the best interest of Google to pursue a social network at this time." We're all grown-ups and can appreciate a clear, solid statement like that.

      I don't agree with you that they shut it down because they wanted to monetize it, though. Google makes so much money from its ad sales that they can run many of their other sub-businesses and experiments at a loss. Facebook must monetize their social network with ads because that is their only business.

      When thinking about the "demise" of G+, I have a few good ideas about that... I'll share them in a bit. I'm waiting for a few other panelists to come online and talk about all the good stuff first, and why we loved it at the very beginning.

    • I have a question from Louis Gray, who works at Google and hosted Daria at the Plex in January 2012, when G+ was a few months old.

      Louis said:

      After her performance, including a rousing rendition of our all-time favorite hit, +1 Me, SVP Vic Gundotra found me in the hallway and thanked me for inviting her. I remember his comments verbatim... "I had no idea... she was so good."

      @Daria was amazing. I'd like to ask her to tell her story of getting inspired by the network and writing this song. She was always such a delight, even as we'd add her to live hangouts with others interested in the platform.

      He even included his cell phone recording of that performance of +1 Me:

    • It was quite a ride there for a few years. My own experience was that I was fairly active in Flickr Groups from back in the day, along with that crazy Russian accountant mentioned above, Ivan Makarov. For me that was the earliest online "photo community," for lack of something else to call it. We were doing books and meetups and trips. Flickr redesigned groups really moving conversation to the background and right about that time Google launched Google+.

      For me Google+ seemed ideal for the photo community. It was very visual giving photos high visibility on the platform. At the same time posts really became conversations. Hangouts allowed people to interact in real time. And most of all Google seemed very interested in promoting it. From what I'd read in the Wall Street Journal and other places, they certainly poured a lot of money into it.

      The nice thing about Google+ was how much the online interaction led to offline interaction around photography. There were contests and hangout shows and I loved hunting for interesting new photographers to add to my photography circles on G+.

      Many of the people I'd known for a few years from Flickr and other online photography flocked to Google+. Ivan helped organize a book. There were worldwide G+ photowalks. There was an epic trip to go shoot Death Valley that Luc Asbury helped lead.

      I still remember that dinner on New Year's Eve in Yosemite with you and others Trey. The photowalk at Google i/o that Trey mentioned where we gave away a pair of Google Glass was another super fun event. Little did we know in just a few short months Google+ would be killed.

      It was sad to see it go. I pretty much knew it was dead when Vic left. Vic was the ultimate Google+ cheerleader at Google. He was one of the top Google execs on the executive committee. He presented at i/o. Seeing him go it was only a matter of time before you saw Google pretty much completely disengage. I think they would have killed it earlier but they'd already had a reputation for starting social projects only to kill them. Orkut, Dodgeball, Wave, Buzz. So when they really went ALL IN with Google+ when it came time to kill it, they couldn't actually do that but rather just put it out to pasture and probably figured when it wasn't as tender a subject that they could always just kill it later. And that's pretty much what they did with this recent privacy lapse.

      I still think they gave up too soon leaving social 100% to Facebook.

      I'll always remember it as a special time for online social and photos. Similar to DMU at Flickr or FriendFeed before Facebook bought that and killed it. As far as I'm concerned nothing's taken its place and we've been left with the fractured ad-centric Facebook and I suppose Twitter a bit. I've been hopeful that Flickr would try and revitalize groups and reinvigorate the photo community on the web through that, but I'm starting to think that's not in the cards in the future either. Time will tell like most things I suppose.

    • I think Google looked at the data and didn't see it getting big enough to threaten Facebook's dominance and a decision was made to stop funding it. Without funding and promotion it was effectively dead at that point. The only reason not to kill it right then and there was Google was concerned about their reputation. After embracing it so significantly all the way from the top (Larry and Sergey) down, to kill it would be to admit failure in a very dramatic and public way when it would have gotten much more negative media attention. By waiting a few years and especially by using this "privacy" excuse, it gives them time/space and cover to a degree from criticism.

      I don't think G+ was ever about monetization. I think it was a defensive move recognizing that to concede social to Facebook meant allowing a competitor more potential online ad dollars that would not go to Google. Further there's risk that Facebook could turn all that valuable social data into search as well eventually cutting into Google's search revenue as well.

    • $585 million sounds like a lot of money but when Facebook has a market cap of $443 billion you can see the value of what G+ could have been if Google had even built 1/10th of what is Facebook today. Still a colossal waste of money in hindsight though. I think they could have spent another $500 million on it before giving up. I think they had something that with Google's clout could have been viable, but then again, I don't have access to all the data that Google was likely seeing at the time and perhaps they figured there was just no way possible to even peel off the smallest fraction of Facebook's user base. Perhaps they figured in the end online social identity/network was a winner take all game.

    • One of the nice tools on G+ for dealing with the negativity was blocking. When you blocked someone on G+ they were really GONE! They disappeared entirely. I loved that. :)

    • Hey gang happy to be onboard for the conversation. I see a common theme in the posts so far. That is, G+ help us meet people we wouldn't have met otherwise. I became friends with Daria and Trey before ever meeting them in person. As Daria says, it turned the first handshake into a hug. I remember in Dec 2011, someone posted one of those Jib-Jab dancing elf videos that someone put together with some of the top followed people on G+ . Daria and I were "lucky" enough to be elfified. That's how we met. But, besides the strictly for fun stuff, G+ had some really powerful collaborative apps. It really was a powerful tool for collaboration that, for various reasons, never achieved its full potential. It was fun and impactful while it lasted.

    • Prior to joining G+, I really had no idea about social media. I mean, I was on Facebook - but my profile was set to friends and family only. Mostly I lurked, wondering what all the fuss was about - and thinking people sure must have alot of time on their hands. And tiny minds.

      Then Trey invited me to G+ and I felt like a kid in a candy store. At first I hung out in the shadows, marveling at all the bright, shiny things and the incredibly creative people. But before long, G+ became my place to jump in and try stuff. I experimented - alot. Writing, photography, doing hangout shows, making videos, going to photowalks all over the country - lordy, I felt like my heart was cracked open and light was spilling out all over everything. I connected with other photographers and artists, learned exponentially, met lifelong friends, discovered so much about myself and my art and fell face-first into opportunities I’d likely never have had without the platform.

      It. Was. Amazing. I thought: wow, if social media can be this much of a force for good then we’re really onto something! I used to say how G+ could change the world. I mean, why not? It certainly changed ours, right?

      Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew it probably wouldn’t last. It was too positive, too good, too pure! And a corporation was still behind it. I thought it might make it for a couple of years - but it exceeded my expectations. Not just with how long it did last, but the depth and breadth of the deep and abiding GOOD that it did.

      What I know for sure: my life was completely and utterly changed for the awesome by G+. There is nothing to take its place - and for that, I’m truly sorry.

    • Yep Gino - I definitely did win. I was so blessed (still am!). It's just beyond vexing when GOOD isn't good enough. And by that I mean the good+ that G+ did.

    • "One thing I noticed looking back at the names was just how influential the female voice was to the Google+ experience. At least for me it felt like a real meritocracy and the women had a strong and important voice that I think is still missing online in general these days.
      There wasnt a lot of conflict or ugliness. It really felt pure and organically healthy and I think the strong female presence helped to inform those good vibes in a very real way."

      I agree Gino! I had never seen so many strong, postiive female voices in one room before.

      "At the time it felt like G+ meant something. It was going to be something important. It felt like we had gathered at Haight and Ashbury in the 60's and good things, real things were going to spring out of it somehow."


    • Not to sound overly solipsistic, but I think the antidote to all that poison is creativity and love. I believe it's up to artists and creatives to save the world! Whenever you're listening to a transcendent song, viewing a beautiful painting, eating a ridiculously awesome meal, watching brilliant film, etc - everything totally zens out. Imagine if we could get all 8 billion people on the planet to chill the fuck out a little bit! :)

      I couldn't agree with you more, Trey!

    • Karen, I remember meeting you at a Google+ long exposure photowalk where I brought my video camera and made a short video of how wonderful it was:

      I remember thinking you were one of the most positive people I had ever met and the morning was completely magical.

      Yesterday I listened to a podcast from Kara Swisher where she said no one signed up for Google+ and the network was designed for antisocial people. That wasn't my experience at all.

    • 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?

      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.