Google+ vs Facebook

I guess it’s inevitable, that when people start to tell you that you’re “taking over” the Internet, that means ‘all’ or ‘nothing’. Google and Facebook both have a lot of regular users, so with the launch of Google+, this obviously has to be a “Facebook-killer”, or whatever, doesn’t it? ALL or NOTHING, world.

It’s completely stupid, some of the news reports that I’ve seen about this so far. So, given that Facebook and Google are apparently in direct competition, I suppose I had better write something about the two.

Disclosure: I don’t really like Facebook. I tried it after someone asked if I was on it. I wanted to like it. I failed to like it. After several years of half-arsedly using it, I finally sent my account to deletion 1.5 weeks ago, and feel happier, possibly as a result.
Despite this, I watched “The Social Network” last week (I thought the trailers made it look dull as hell, but *everyone* told me it was amazing, so against my better judgement – I got it from LoveFilm). As well as being *at least* 30 minutes too long, I thought the characters were boring, unbelievable, and that there was only one person in the whole film who wasn’t a total arsehole (Eduardo). This is why I don’t write IMDB reviews.
Come on though. Nobody cares if the network goes down at 2am. Big deal.
When I was at college, my mate hacked the network in the middle of the day, changed a load of passwords and gave us all access to play network games. Nobody talked about it. The two things that “everyone” talked about was when a girl on my course got pregnant, and when two people got suspended for smashing a laptop with a BB gun.

Google Products

Google do some things brilliantly. Google search – very good. Gmail – very nice. Have you seen Facebook messaging? Could it be any more basic? I can’t even tick a list of contacts to jointly message. I have to go through that autocomplete “To” box, trying to remember everyone.

I actually prefer Google Calendar to iCal (sorry Apple). So I sync that to my iPhone.

Now, Google Wave – I’ll be honest – I didn’t really understand what it was for. Live-typing-style instant messaging (a bit like ICQ used to do), and…what?
I think the original concept was sharing and collaboration – a bit like Google Docs – and that they were hoping people would write more software to work with it. But I’m not a programmer. If you want me to be excited by something, you need to create a product that works with it. Flour isn’t exciting. Nor are eggs. But mix them with some other ingredients and you’ve got a chocolate cake. I don’t need to understand what the flour does, to enjoy eating the cake.
(Side note: This is probably the same reason why I’ve never really enjoyed my experiences using Linux. I’m sure it’s possible to make it all compatible and work nicely together, but I’m not the person to do it. Either it all works together to start with, or I use something else that does. I tried a few variants (of which there are thousands) and encountered different niggling problems with each. I don’t want any solution that starts “just open the terminal window”, either. Terminal windows? What year is this? 1985?)

BUT, if I wanted to start a campaign to get a shit song to no.1 in the singles chart at Christmas, instead of not bothering and letting a different shit song get to no.1 because it was advertised through a highly-watched televised-karaoke TV-show, then well – Facebook is your tool for that job!

Time

There are a lot of reports saying how much time people spend on Facebook, and that they spend less time on Google (reports like this, and this for example).

Is this a bad thing? At times, Google have said this was deliberate. I can’t remember who said it (and can’t find the actual quote), but there is a quote something along the lines of how Google (search) is different – because they don’t want you to spend a lot of time on their site. They want you to “find what you’re looking for, and leave”. If you spend a long time searching for one thing with Google, either what you’re looking for doesn’t exist, or you’re doing it wrong.

Google claim that those using their Priority Inbox settings on Gmail spend 15% less time reading their emails. Is this bad? Of course it isn’t.
Logging in to Facebook to send a glorified email message to two people is hardly worthwhile, when email is more easily accessible.
And if I don’t have an email address for the person I’m contacting, I’m probably not friends with them, really. Can you call someone a “friend”, yet have no contact details for them? If so – in an emergency, would you message them on Facebook? What if you had some information to share that they had to know, right NOW? If Facebook went down, who would you tell?

Do I enjoy watching a 2 minute YouTube video, or a 15 minute YouTube video? It depends which one is more interesting. Mostly though, shorter is usually better. You know I’m right.

If I’m using Google Docs for only 3 minutes, is this a bad thing? It depends. Sometimes I might be writing something on my computer for a while, then later I copy/paste it into Google Docs, so I can share it with someone and continue working on it. If I’d spent 3 hours typing it into Google Docs, who benefits? Nobody. I’ve just wasted more of Google’s server power, and I’ve still had my computer on the whole time as well.

What also isn’t measured is what people are doing during that time. If I spend a minute refreshing a page trying to get it to load properly, does that count?

Google products are (mostly) quite efficient. If everything took twice as long to do, would I click more adverts? No. I’d use a different provider.

Facebook Content

If I’m on Facebook checking to see which of the people I went to school with are now addicted to meths, who is benefitting from that search?

If you’re trawling someone else’s photos, who benefits from that? Are you envious of their house, car, etc. or happy that they’ve got a worse house, car, etc. than you?

Some people evidently just upload every photo they take to Facebook. You’ll get 10 (or more) shots from the same event, same angle, ever-so-slightly different. It’s the modern day equivalent of a really long and boring slideshow.

I’ve spent a bit of time in a local library recently. On nearly every occasion I’ve visited, there is someone there using the free computer access, to look at Facebook. I’m nosy, and I’ve noticed that some people just sit there with Facebook’s main news feed page open the whole time, occasionally refreshing. The news feed is a bit like a version of Twitter to some people.
Who benefits from this? Nobody – that’s who.
The girl is procrastinating by endlessly checking her friends’ statuses. Sadly, the status thing doesn’t seem as active as Twitter, so she hasn’t got much to read. The library is wasting money on broadband and electricity for her to do it. And I’m wasting time watching what she’s doing. I should get back to my book.

User Recommendation

Ah yes. This is where Facebook is winning.

Or not.

The suggestion that I buy something just because my friends do, is laughable. If it’s a physical product, I’m probably less likely to buy it, at least until I’ve tried out theirs. I’m a cynical bastard, and just because somebody tells me something is good, I’m not going to believe them until I’ve seen it first hand.

Recently I bought a garden parasol. Did I ask about this on Facebook? No. Twitter? No. My friends don’t care about garden parasols. I used Google Shopping. Then eBay. (Under £10 including postage. Bargain.)

If I want live crowd-sourced answer to a question like “WTF is happening in the town centre at the moment? Total gridlock!”, then I’ll ask on Twitter. Google doesn’t give me that information (unless it’s a pre-planned event causing it). Nor does Facebook.

I can see that perhaps if I wanted to ask the general opinion of lots of people, I might ask on Facebook. But I’m impatient. Twitter seems decidedly more real-time. I dare say that Facebook can be used for this, but try using Facebook for opinions of people you don’t know, on an episode of The Apprentice. Doesn’t work.

So what of Google+ ?

Well, it’s invite-only, and I haven’t been invited. Of what I see of the demo and the information on Google’s blog here, it has a couple of interesting things, such as user-grouping – that might be good. Assuming you can add people to more than one group, that is.

That said, its inability to work with other things leaves me a bit cold. Part of what I like about Twitter is that I can use their login to access other sites like Qik and Audioboo – all under one banner/profile.
Is this just another Facebook? Will everyone have to be on Google+ for me to talk to them? If so, there’s going to be loads of people on it, just because someone asks if they’re on it. It’s that sort of stupid logic that got me on Facebook in the first place.

Instant photo uploading is a terrible idea. I’ll max out my monthly allowance really quickly. If they can do instant photo uploading, that only takes place when I’m within a WiFi enabled area, then fine. But I take a lot of shit photos that get deleted – and don’t need to be seen by anyone but me.

I’m not sure if Mashable’s commenters are generally anti-Facebook, but quite a few have said they’re looking for an alternative, so Google+ might have its supporters.

If it does work the same as Facebook, then I’ll be no more excited about pouring information liberally into it though. Which school I went to is only of interest to me, and my future employers. The only people from previous employment I’ve kept in contact with, were people I actually wanted to keep in contact with. I’ve done that through email/phone, and I probably can’t be bothered to invite them to another new service.

There are some people that I am friends with, yet don’t need to know what they’re doing every minute of every day. It really ruins a ‘catching up’ game on the Playstation, if I know – in detail – every thing that person has done for the last month. Maybe I just want to know the highlights, or the positive moments – without the filler that surrounds it.

You might think I’m biased. I’ve just quit FaceBook. I’ve no intention to go back either. It doesn’t seem instantly useful or fun to me. I gave it a good shot, but my close friends actually aren’t on it. The only people I was chatting to on Facebook was people I wouldn’t bother to talk to in real life. I tried to like Facebook, but I don’t. And if I ever have to spend as much time trying to like Google, as I did trying to like Facebook, I’ll stop using Google too. I mean there’s always Bing. *shudder*