A Techwise Conversation with Google+ designer Joseph Smarr.
They say you only get one chance at a first impression, but logically speaking, you only get one chance at a second impression too. Google’s earlier forays into social networking haven’t been well received, but Google’s newest is making a very good impression indeed. Analysts, journalists, and the public at large all seem to like Google+. That is, those that can get on—the service is still in an invitation-only mode. The software isn’t perfect—for example, as my guest last week, Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, pointed out, Google’s +1 button—more or less the equivalent of the Facebook “Like” button—doesn’t sync up with Google+. People are looking for other comparisons to Facebook as well, but surely that misses the point. This isn’t iPhone vs. Android and who has the faster processor or more pixels or a bigger app store. Google and Facebook have very different philosophies. Google wants you to use the whole Web. The more you do, the more you need its search engine and YouTube and Blogger and Picassa and all its other sites and the ads they show you. Facebook, on the other hand, wants you to use, well, Facebook. In short, Google wants to play off its superior knowledge of the world and how you fit into it. Facebook wants to play off its superior knowledge of you, and how everyone else fits into your world. This is the clash we tried to lay out for you in last month’s special report on social networking. That was before even this initial beta release of Google+. Now that we’ve seen the real thing, we have some questions. And who better to answer them than Joseph Smarr? He’s a software engineer at Google who helped design and code Google+. Previously, he was the chief technology officer for Plaxo, which bills itself as the “smart address book.” He joins us by phone from Google’s campus in Mountain View, Calif.