Friday, June 10, 2011

[PROTIPS] Why Google's +1 and likes aren't the same.

10 minutes ago, I thought I'd go to bed, but one of the (luckily few) trolls on Google Buzz pissed me so off, that I will still be awake for a while.

For those who are unfamiliar with my style of writing: I make parts of the text passages bold, so you can skim the article really fast and get all the info you need.

I'll use the time for something I wanted to do since a few weeks now and explain to you, why +1s (or plusOnes) and likes are completely different concepts of social interaction.

Since +1 went public, lots of you are confused and ask: "Oh my, oh my, why the FUCK do we need another thing next to starring items, liking posts and sharing stuff?"

Good question. But it is the wrong question. In fact, plusOne isn't something new.

It isn't.

Do you remember "starred results" Google turned off a relatively short time before they introduced plusOne?

I will show you:

Starred results were an INSANELY useful feature that allowed you to mark search results from a previous search. You simply klicked on an empty star and... voila it got starred and bookmarked. Every time you search for the same terms or for similar terms, your starred results showed up on the top of the results AND were promoted by a star next to the title.
The starred items were collected in the ... oh wonder... "starred items list". So... maybe you see some similarities here? No? Really? Are you kidding?

Here is the same with enabled plusOne. It is even in the same div enclosure. The starred results still show up, but you can't star new items in the search anymore (it is still possible via the Google search history though)

Aaaaand the +1 Tab on the new profiles:

So, what is the difference now between the old and the new version of this functionality?
The social component.
People who follow you get now your +1's as a recommendation while searching. So if you happen to follow a lot of developers and are a developer yourself, it comes in pretty handy to reduce the time you spend finding answers on Google.

For example: If I search for "Android", logic would dictate that everything else than Google's Mobile Operating system would show up in the first ranks. (seriously... how long does the word Android exist and how many Google-users really know what it could be a smartphone OS too? Does your gran' Erna know? Or your Uncle Eddie?) But I find something different:

All my friends marked for me, what could be interesting, by clicking this little +1 button next to the search result and so, they did a preselection for me. They recommended search results, so I could benefit from their effort too. This is part of Google's social web. So far, so great. But what is then the difference to a like?

A like is just something temporary for us. It exists as long as the post that was liked is visible in the activity-stream/timeline and then it disappears.

And this is good. VERY good.

So what is a like? A like is a temporary emotional reaction to a content. It is an impulsive act to communicate affection, sympathy, empathy, conformity or "I care about the shit you are posting". It isn't a "reshare", where you value the content of a post high enough to present it to your followers, neither it is something you want to stumble over 5000 times again. You won't bookmark it, you won't want to watch the stuff 100000 times again.

A like is made to disappear. It is emotionally driven and has... please be honest... not very sustainable value for others.

So why the heck would you want to plusOne something like that, which gets shoved in the faces of your followers every time they search on Google?

So, if you would replace all like-buttons with plus-one buttons, we would either have to:

A: stop liking/plusOne content to preserve the benefits of plusOne in the search

B: the search results get clogged and it doesn't make sense at all to use the Google search because of the 200 kitten-videos that appear when I search for the Linux command "cat".

To +1 something means that you are resharing it permanently, so use it wisely. Don't +1 stupid and useless stuff. (except on youtube and other large content-sites. That implementation works differently than to +1 posts, activity updates and articles.)

If you like or star something, it is just for you or for a limited time for others. If you +1 something, you should always keep in mind, if it would be useful for others too.

cheers. I'll try to sleep now. I hope you enjoyed my little excursion :)

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