You’ve probably seen the Google +1 button on websites (like ours).
And, if you’ve looked at it, you’ll see something very much like Facebook with bits of Twitter and other social apps thrown in. So far, it works very well.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I think the Google + Project is a lot bigger, and soon you’ll feel its impact in a lot more areas of your life.
I’ll explain why I think +1 is the first shoots of a unified social web – and ask whether we should be concerned.
Why is the Google Plus Project So Important?
The reason I’m so excited about this is because I think we’re seeing the first signs of what I think is “Web3.0”
I’ve been thinking and writing about this stuff for years.
At the core of my concept is a Reputation Engine, which is an organic database of the links between entities, and the strength of trust between them.
(Interestingly, back in 2005, I managed to arrange a meeting with some Google marketing reps in London, where I tried to explain this concept. It was clearly 6 years too early, or speaking to the wrong people. They didn’t get it at all.)
The Facebook “like” button, Amazon’s and eBay’s +/- ratings, Facebook’s or LinkedIn’s connections, and (more recently) Google’s +1 button, are simple versions of this. They record only “yes/no”.
If you take the time to read through those two previous articles, you’ll see Circles and Sparks already there. But there are some important differences too.
I thought that a percentage scale would be better than a binary “yes/no”, but with enough numbers maybe the binary will work. However, that’s a minor detail.
Where Will the Plus Project Go?
With the Plus project, I can see more of the various elements that have previously been distinct (social networking, news, places…) will be brought together under one core application.
This will be very powerful. It means that our tastes, relationships and behaviour will be aggregated. My previous articles paint more of a picture of where this could still go. There’s a lot of power in all those data!
In my concept, this system would have no core. Like the World Wide Web, it would be distributed, built on simple protocols.
What that concerns me most is that I imagined this system being open-source. Google is a publicly-owned commercial corporation, with a profit motive, as well as a “do no evil” internal ethos. Personally, I’d be much happier to see the Web doing this, rather than one company.
I never thought the community would get its act together to make it happen.
I Didn’t Think Google Would Do It
I’ve always backed the wrong company to develop this system. I figured that corporations on the wane, with an empire to lose, would have the strongest motivation, but that isn’t always the case. In 2005, I thought Yahoo! had the most to gain. In 2008 it was Microsoft. You can’t win them all.
But, of course, Google has the most to gain. It may seem like the company has it all, but it doesn’t. There’s a lot of economy out there that Google isn’t part of.
I don’t want to be knee-jerk here. I love what Google does for me. A few years ago, most of my work was done using installed software. Now, most of it is done on the Google platform (GMail, Google Docs, Analytics, AdWords Keyword Research, Webmaster Tools etc. etc.) I love the big-G, and yet there’s always a part of me that worries slightly about so much power being held by one corporation.
It’s true that the services Google provides have made the world a better place. Have they made it a fairer place? Some would say no.
I’ll be watching with interest.
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