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    • 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.

    • Karen Hutton

      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."

      YES!!

    • 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?
      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... 😂

    You've been invited!