Beware the buzz about Google+

Google Buzz came, was heralded, and died quietly in a corner. Will Google+ be the same? I don't know, and the rest of the world doesn't, either.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

When you're in this business long enough, you get a little jaded about "the next great thing." Because the fact of the matter is, most folks who write about the tech industry are foremost fans -- and fans, as we all know, can be irrationally positive about something they're excited about.

It was only February 2010 when Google announced Buzz, it's Facebook-Twitter-social killer. And by jove, did a lot of people think it was the next coming of you-know-who.

A taste:

  • "Facebook just lost half its value. [Google] Buzz is better. Hands down." (Jason Calacanis)
  • "[With Buzz,] Google has finally created the definition of a game-changer." (Ben Parr)
  • "If Google Wave is the future, Google Buzz is the present." (MG Siegler)
  • "Google Buzz looks quite useful." (Liz Gannes)

(To be fair, Siegler offered a healthy dose of skepticism in his post. But he careened from "it could be perfect" to "it could be a misstep" in a single sentence. That's called hedging your bets.)

My point is not to hang these folks for poor judgment, but to use them to illustrate one simple point: take things you read with a grain of salt.

All of the folks above made judgments on the day Google announced its social service. Think about that -- how can you possibly consider a social service before people are using it? And moreover, how can you assume that how it's intended to be used will actually be the reality?

(As an early user of Facebook, I can attest that profile pages used to be the most interesting part of its early life. Now, they're mostly afterthoughts, and the feed is where all the action is. And now, family and colleagues are on it, too, changing the dynamic of how people use the site.)

Today, a lot of folks are talking about Google Plus (alternately, Google+), which is in limited preview. It's been dabbled with by a bunch of tech writers (not me, I hasten to add), and today, you're reading their thoughts on it.

It's a bit like reviewing a car by driving it across a dealer's parking lot.

So far:

  • "Google+ is by far the best effort in social that Google has put out there yet." (That MG loves to hedge his bets, doesn't he?)
  • "Only time will tell if Google has finally found its magical arrow." (Mr. Parr gets wise to his missteps.)
  • "Will [certain services] be enough to get traction with hundreds of millions of people? Doubtful." (Om Malik weighs in.)
  • (Jason Calacanis has yet to speak on the issue.)

So when it comes out, give it a shot. Decide for yourself. Then ask yourself why you'd need to read a review about a social networking service in the first place.

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