Google+ and the fear of Balkanization

Yes, I like Google+. It is much smarter and much more elegant then Facebook. I like the circles concept and many other features. And I’m not alone with my affection. Fred Wilson, Robert Scoble, Nico Lumma, Patrick Breitenbach, Peter Bihr and many many uncounted more love it too. Within a couple of few days Google+ attracted a huge number of active users. Google+ became a threat to Facebook and maybe even Twitter and other social platforms. A significant drain of users is moving towards the new challenger from Mountain View. Currently more web nerds and aficionados than Justin Bieber fans. But there is also a risk to your existing social graph, your network, in this hype. The risk of dispersal.

We must stop a Balkanization into mini-regions and mini-tribes. Every social platform wants to get a share of your social graph, your most valuable capital as a user. Google+ is no exception even if Google is a giant player. Not all of your friends and family, fellows and followers will follow your trails. The result is that every time you add yourself to a new en vogue platform you split your social graph into smaller and smaller parts on different platforms. Think about that everytime you fall in love with a new exciting playground.

Remember, you have to have a home base in the great plains of the web. Somewhere, where your friends and family, fellows and followers can find and stay connected to you. Don’t annoy and irritate them. Think before you act. Think before you change your platform too often and move to a new home. Not everyone will follow you.


10 thoughts on “Google+ and the fear of Balkanization

  1. A very good point Cem, thanks for writing it. This is exactly what most of my friends just said. But they said some other things too. „Oh good it’s not Facebook anymore, then I wil try it!“ It seems to be like the malicious joy of a child „Yeahh now Mark Zuckerberg wil have to fight!“

    I really like Google+ too, but I will never permanently move to anywhere. Companies just star to use Facebook and with that I will go on coaching, training and long hours of patently explaining the social laws of digital media!

  2. Of course, that’s the reason everyone ist still on AOL or SomeVZ….

    This text makes absolutely no sense. You’ll have the nerd friends in this network and the family and „nearly offliners“ in some book of faces. That’s perfectly okay and isn’t a problem, except you make one of it. Nothing is forever, especially on the web.

    And of course the so called „social media experts“ with their „facebook courses“ and other funny things don’t want something different to appear, given the hard times they had to even understand twitter and facebook…

  3. Good point, Cem, but…. I was wondering about this since yesterday after I had joined google+. Yet, on twitter there are very few people I know from other social contexts, but how much poorer would my life be without them. My amibivalence and dislike of facebook never let me interact with close friends there anyhow… so fragmention already exists. Now google+ actually seems to offer the possibility of integrating different social (web) spaces for the first time. How exciting.

  4. As far as the homebase is concerned: It should be your blog, personal page, because this is what belongs to you, not to the company that hosts your data and avatar. I don’t see a problem in balcanization – to the contrary: giving your data to one single company is a greater risk. balcanization could mean more privacy as far as data mining is concerned. the internet has always thrived from different platforms, different roles, different worlds.

  5. „The result is that every time you add yourself to a new en vogue platform you split your social graph into smaller and smaller parts on different platforms.“

    Well, not really, is it?

    As soon as another social networking site is launched people play around with it, keeping their communities on other social networks. The article sounds as if you’d actually turn your back on existing profiles on existing social networks, which is just wrong. You’ll still check your Twitter and Facebook stream if you’re checking out a new site. At least most users will.

    Especially with tools like Tweetdeck among others you can still operate different profiles at the same time. And it’s just a matter of time that Google+ gets integrated into these tools as well I’m sure.

  6. As an avocate of the open, decentralized web I don’t subscribe to your point of view. At least not in all aspects. Of course it’s important to develop some kind of consistency in your online-life, but I don’t think that this should be hostet on facebook or twitter (or even wordpress.com). As some of the other readers pointet out: Host your own blog or static website in a way you can access all(!) data and get control over your URLs. That should be your base.

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