Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Buzz on Plus: pros, cons and a wishlist

So, this has been an awesome, productivity-devastating week so far and I've to honestly say.. I enjoyed every single minute of it!
I'll just make a summary of my experiences... I still didn't make use of all features, but I'll cover what I can cover for now.. Finally I'll add a section of some interesting wishes or suggestions of my dear friends from Buzz/Plus :)

Should we start now? :)

First: My expectations and the reality

Well during my hunt for clues, I made a LOT of assumptions. Some were quite close to reality, some weren't so much, but I pretty much felt the direction it was going. What I absolutely DIDN'T expect was the great interface that simply blew my mind.

Yeah I was missing this big puzzle-piece of the main consumption stream... but I didn't expect it to be a whole new site that really is a fully featured social network on top of the framework I discovered.
The layout is clean and neat, providing all useful information at first glance.

Being based on Google Buzz, it features a lot of cool functions I already knew from buzz, like bumping posts for example. Google made a few change recently and reduced the bumping due to the complaints of the Facebookers and Twitter-people who are simply not used to the mute function and don't have their circles set up properly yet.

mute. it exists.

Another great feature are the Circles (oh wonder). It provides the possibility to create several separate "micro-networks" that are isolated from the public stream. This enables you to share information just with the people you want to share with. Additionally, it helps to completely get rid of the clutter problem, that happens when you have way too many people posting way too many things at the same time.
IMPORTANT: The circles thing is nothing personal, it helps reducing clutter... so if someone doesn't add you, it doesn't mean he or she doesn't like you! They will still enjoy your comments etc... so don't be bummed if someone doesn't follow you back. Keep interacting, maybe he/she will follow you another time :)

As you can see, I'm way behind schedule to set up my circles properly, but we won't discuss that here now ^^

The circles can overlap (meaning: some persons can be member of several circles at the same time), but they are not hierarchically organized.

A lot of people currently fuck their brains with all sorts of rocket-science diagrams and produce a problem that isn't there. Google circles are one-dimensional. There is no parent-child system here... I'd suspect that a more complicated system would be counter-productive, as it would confuse people and lead to a higher error-rate which is a NO-GO in terms of privacy. If people start making mistakes configuring privacy, the whole success of the platform is at risk, because the blood-thirsty media just loves dryhumping the legs of exaggerated privacy concerns.
I'd make a hierarchical system optional at best... Yeah for us techies it might be awesome to construct something that is useful but also complicated... we are used to severe frustration, but people do not like it when they screw up and feel dumb. They blame everything and everyone else for their mistakes, so I'd be cautious about that. Ham Zed and Rich Griese have a few good theories about that though, check them out!

Ok, there is also the hangout function and a shitload of other awesome stuff that others already covered to a sick extent so I will start complaining and such now. no, not really :D

Ok, things that are important for me:

I want my bumping posts back!
I can't rely on the notifications as I get about 10 new ones per minute... so, I'm pretty fucked if someone who follows me makes a comment on my post and it doesn't bump... I just miss it. (not good.)
I love every interaction with the people on Plus, even the silly kind of interaction...
I do understand that most people who are not FriendFeed people or Buzzinga's (yeah I just made that up) get all confused by the bumping messages... They see the same stuff again and again, become desperate, roll on the floor, crying to the heavens, begging for mercy... so what I'd do is a simple option to enable switching between a
  • chronological timeline
  • important-bump
  • all-bump
  • custom
Chronological... I hope I don't have to explain how that works...
Important Bump only bumps what is worth to bump (let's say people who are in your circles can bump posts in your timeline)
All Bump is the bumpedy bump goodness we all (and with all I mean the awesome Buzzwarriors) know from Buzz, where everything just bumps like a huge happy bouncy-castle full of happy posts.
Custom: That's the interesting part!
It would be awesome if you could set the bumpiness of every circle: Friends can bump, Ex-Girlfriends can't, Family can bump, Followers can't, people outside circles can't bump... A toggle function to toggle bumping for every circle... like toggle. for every circle... individually. Bump. Did I already say Bump?

The fixed scrolling notification bar... would be awesome if it could be toggled in the settings! So you have always access to the notification on top, even if you scroll.

Make the Stream toggle-able..
Uhm... it would be great if you could switch on and off several circles from appearing in the main consumption stream instead of having to choose one single stream! that would also reduce the overcomplicated overlapping circle-madness people experience when they brainfuck themselves to death with social circle mad cow disease...
So, my shot would be: clicking on the label Switches to the Stream of a certain circle and clicking on the Icon toggles the visibility for the stream :)

One awful bug I experienced lately, is the edit-bug. If you edit a comment and someone comments under you on the same post, it kicks you out of edit mode and the modifications are lost (that makes me a sad sad panda :( )

For some odd reason I sometimes can't open the first notification in my notification window thingy! MEH! :(
But I guess they'll fix that some time soon...

Please let me get rid of Siegler!
There is currently no way to kick suggestions forever from the Suggestions-box :( And I know you guys like to screw with me :D  
EDIT: OnMouseOver there is a little X, however Siegler keeps turning up again, haunting me... maybe just a glitch for now o.O

Same would be great for the "incoming" tab. I don't want to move everyone to a circle as (until you implement my awesome toggle function) they will show up in my stream... And I don't want to block them. For example: some people just post in Chinese and my Mandarin seriously sucks at the moment, so you might see the issue here... if incoming would be kinda extension of the suggestions box, displaying the people's (new followers) last posts, it would save me the trouble of going to their profiles, checking if they are providing updates in a language I can understand... Add a dismiss button to the incoming tab and... BOOM! it would be awesome! :D
oops, wrong user.

Active hangouts (idea by Stephanie Wanamaker)
I like the idea to make a small list of the active hangouts of your closest friends on the right side under the "Start new hangout" button!
See my awesome illustration skills? It is fricken art yo!

PlusOne a Permalink
And I mean a REAL plusone
Steph and many others brought that up... The +1's on Google+ are not the same as +1's on the web, that's why they don't show up in the +1 tab on the profile.
Back in Buzz I made an extension (see BuzzOne) that let you +1 the permalink of a buzz, so you could mark a very good post for others to show up highlighted in Google's social search. That's what I'm missing here.

A lot of people are confused by the difference between the +1 on the web and the +1 on Google+... I'd suggest a optical differentiation to make it easily understandable, that the buttons might have the same name, but they don't serve the same purpose.
A hidden +1 button next to the permalink would be an Option to +1 a public post for the Social Search.

Share Posts from Reader (Trench Coat's idea)
Sparks is fine and all that, but sharing a post directly to Google+ from Reader, that would be really great!
can I haz plus?
And... while we are at it, please add plusOne to reader, so I can +1 articles directly in Reader (see my ReaderPlus+ extension)

Better integration of Reader (by Staci Finch Thomson)

Stacy pointed out that a better integration of reader into the Google+ System would be something very important. As Sparks seems kinda work in progress, Reader would benefit from additional sorting possibilities like the Circles System (well a finding in the Google+ code hints to that anyways (c.append("Google Reader user")).

Also great would be a discuss on plus button, where you can link an article to post on Google+ (see my Discuss on Buzz extension)

Nice URL's (that are sure to come, but just to mention.. by Carl Saggs)

Instead of simply for example (just like on Buzz). But I guess the Google-guys are on it already.

Fix the mail-link bug (by Rich Griese):
Mailto: links do not work :(

Add Huddle Support to the Web-frontend (by Jef Kazimer):

I know that Huddle is primarily focused on Group-Messaging on mobile, but once you come home, it would be nice to continue the conversation on the desktop (as it is less of a pain in the ass to type on a real keyboard, if available).

Filtering Notifications by Type (by Pancho Eliott):

Filtering the notification by Type (and maybe filtering the Activities in the Stream by type when more Activity types are implemented, like connected Sites/feeds) would be a valuable addition to reduce the clutter. (+1's, comments, mentions etc)

BUG: hanging out with Obama (by Tyler Gillies):
If some celebs hang out and you share the activity, the post says that you hung out with them. Heh. Hanging out with Weiner. :P

Tune into a Hangout (by bish s):
It would be great if, for example Vic Gundotra hosts a hangout and the places are full, others could tune in (Audio only, Audio/Video) to listen to an interesting Session, when the Hangout is explicitly marked as public. (like a Live-Podcast/Vidcast)

Hashtags for the Search function
That doesn't need to be explained. It would be nice to tag stuff in a way.

Ok, that's all I'll cover for now.. there are a lot of great Ideas out there but I've to cover those another time... In a second post probably!
I'm exhausted so sorry for the short end..



Herr Lucifer - The Fallen Angel said...

Nice Article Florian. Here is the correct link for my circle suggestion:

Florian Rohrweck said...

Changed the link :)

DebDobson said...

Very nice article. I especially like the notifications and reader ideas.

Burning Fence Post said...

Excellent post, thanks.

nightxade said...

Fantastic post. Nice of you to include so many ideas from everyone!

I definitely approve of your idea about custom bumping. I am sad that bumping was altered for FB people who are used to having everything get lost in the stream, rather than allowing them to learn about the magical Mute Button (of course, making the Mute option more easily accessible would help. ie make it an actual button, rather than part of the drop down. It most certainly is the function I use most in a given day ;)

I like Stephanie's idea re: Hangouts. I'd also like to see an option to add a comment when setting up a Hangout. ie something that suggests the topic of discussion.

Definitely toggle the stream!

~Wendy WB

dellfalconer said...

How about verified accounts a la Twitter? Although it's usually easy to tell if an account is authentic.

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