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Google Betting Its Google+ Systems Know What's Best For You 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-machine dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "But at this year's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced that it has a plan to make Google Plus users more engaged, courtesy of new features backed by a handful of data-analytics tricks. Google Plus postings now feature Google-generated hashtags that, when clicked, direct the user to related content from across their network. From a backend-infrastructure perspective, that sort of thing leans heavily on Google's semantic analysis and the ability to make the right connections between various pieces of data. Google Plus will also automatically highlight certain photos out of dozens or even hundreds of shots. Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.' In the words of that posting on the Google+ Blog: 'Your darkroom is now a Google data center.' Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus? That's the big question. Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?"
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Google Betting Its Google+ Systems Know What's Best For You

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  • by LSD-OBS (183415) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:28PM (#43746623)

    As part of the big roll out of these changes, a lot of google chat users have discovered their most frequently used contacts have been automatically "Blocked on Google+ [google.com]", despite not themselves not having Google+ accounts. People have been left with no option other than to sign up to Google+ to access their "Blocked" circle to see what contacts have been blocked, and unblock them.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Just uninstall that new Hangouts app and you are back to Google Talk and everything fixes itself.
      There is no reason to join Google+. None at all.

      • by LSD-OBS (183415)

        The "Hangouts app" was never installed by these people. It simply *happened* to people using Google chat. Me included.

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:23PM (#43747155) Homepage Journal

      Sounds like a bug. I'm sure it will get fixed.

      Yes, Google has bugs.

      • Sounds like a bug. I'm sure it will get fixed.

        Yes, Google has bugs.

        Well, from what I've seen of this latest batch, our world hunger problems are over...

    • This would explain why my chat list is missing a few regulars. I knew something was up when my phone was bugging me about updating to Hangouts this morning (never EVER set your phone to autoupdate anything!) Whats funny is none of those people show up as blocked in the GMail Talk client like that forum post says, I'm likely blocked on their side and the distribution of people seems random. Funny that back in the day if AOL (remember them?) tried this crap with AIM, people would be howling. Google does this
  • The quick answer: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hartree (191324) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:39PM (#43746733)

    "Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus?"

    No.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush (643681)

      It is enough to make Google look even more creepy.

      • by icebike (68054)

        This!
        Google is getting very creepy.
        I know it's all done by mindless computer code, but if mindless code can figure out so many aspects of my existence image what could be done when some rogue government agency demands all of there "analytics" under some secret warrant or fishing letter.

        • what has been done when some rogue government agency demands all of there "analytics" under some secret warrant or fishing letter.

          TFTFY

      • Google seems to be heading towards a future where if you don't buy into Google+, you don't get to use Google's applications. It's like during their two most recent rounds of killing things off - they announce all these projects that are going away, then say "but we're introducing lots of new stuff"... all of which is related to Google+.

        It's weird to say this about such a huge company, but they seem to be getting desperate.

      • This!

        "Your darkroom is now [Google's] datacenter"? No thank you.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        actually, this article is creepy. being posted via a pseudonym for a known shitty slashdot editor, they only use that nym when they're posting "google is questionable" or heavily favoring microsoft type troll articles.

        It's not even a remote surprise. You shouldn't expect reasoned and valid criticism of google, just bashing in said articles. This has been covered before on slashdot previously.

        • actually, this article is creepy. being posted via a pseudonym for a known shitty slashdot editor, they only use that nym when they're posting "google is questionable" or heavily favoring microsoft type troll articles.

          No one loves the messenger who brings bad news. -- Sophocles.

          Pseudonyms - that's a very interesting thing to criticise. I take it you weren't christened "poetmatt". The Matthew seems quite likely, but hardly narrows your identity down much. For sure my name is not Basil Brush. Slashdot culture is one of pseudonames. Maybe 1 in a hundred use their real name.

          But that's not why it's interesting. It's interesting because the great corporate Peeping Tom, Google agrees with you. They originally demanded that you

          • by poetmatt (793785)

            that was the laziest troll I have ever seen. I see you do it nonstop, but please do better than that.

            • Weak. You're so very weak, Matthew.

              Have you got an argument for why it's not pathetic to shoot the messenger? No.

    • No

      "Google announced 190 million people are now active in the Google+ stream, while 390 million are active across Google, including +1’ing apps in Google Play, making video calls in Gmail and sharing videos from YouTube. " http://mashable.com/2013/05/15/google-plus-redesign-pinteres/ [mashable.com]

      That sounds like a yes to me.

      • by seebs (15766) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @09:17PM (#43747869) Homepage

        It might sound like that, but when you consider the broad spectrum of things they're including as "active", it really isn't.

        +1'ing apps in Google Play? Really? So everyone who's ever rated an app in the iTunes App Store is a user of Apple's social network? Everyone who's posted to Youtube, even if they've never created a G+ profile, is a user of G+ now? Everyone who uses gmail gets counted?

        I've got no G+ account due to the naming policy crap, but I have gmail and I've posted on youtube. I bet they count me.

      • by Hartree (191324) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @09:29PM (#43747957)

        Is that "fact" like the three copies of Windows 8 that Microsoft counts me as having "bought"?

        I bought three 802.11AC routers from Newegg and automagically had three copies of Win8 added to my cart which were included in the price, but also had an automatic rebate that was applied immediately. That was just before MS came out with the surprisingly large sales figures. I was only one of many.

        Just because it's said by a company you rather like doesn't mean it's not misleading. For example, how much credence would you give something similar said by Apple?

        • For example, how much credence would you give something similar said by Apple?

          Actually Apple are pretty good, they post figures for in there financial statements in a nice table every year for hardware. Ignoring the fact that they claim a sale when it is a shipped product. In reality they don't really produce anything apart from a narrow range of electronics devices.

          Microsoft do all kinds of things from raising prices; selling in bulk to OEM's, but since they are a monopoly. The real figures are in hard drive companies failing...Dell this week announced further bad move, but on the w

    • Now that it has actually gone live and we can see what photos are being selected for relevance there is a longer and more complex answer:

      Hell no.

    • by okmarket (2925653)
      i really like google+, it help us increase the business. our company name okmarket.com which use google+ increase more business. so hope google+ better in the coming days.
  • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#43746769) Homepage Journal

    When G+ started out, it was clean, fast-loading, reliable, and did exactly what it was supposed to do and no more. You know ... like Google used to be. I had real hopes that G+:FB::Google:Yahoo.

    Every change since then has made it uglier, slower, and buggier; with the latest interface changes they've not only caught up to but actually surpassed Facebook in the amount of irritating crap they shove at the user. Google may be able to coast on people's affection for them as a search engine (especially when the competition is Bing) but they're going to find it increasingly difficult to break into new markets if all they do is ape the worst behavior of the existing market leader--which in this case emphatically includes "adding a bunch of new 'features' when the ones we already have are kind of crap."

    I still use Google as my primary search engine, Gmail as my e-mail provider, and Google Maps when I want to figure out how to go somewhere I haven't been before. Nothing they've done since then has provided any reason to switch from whatever solution I'm currently using. And I really don't think I'm alone in this.

    • Re:Meh-and-a-half. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ElectraFlarefire (698915) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:59PM (#43746913) Journal

      The current version is all but unusable on a 1.6ghz Atom netbook and grinds my current also Atom desktop machine.. It's go so many bars that vanish and show up, uses so much CPU that typing pegs the system and uses so much realestate that there's less than a quarter of the whole screen for content.. And so much clicking to access things(When things are not automaticly popping up because my cursor strayed somewere).

      Their search engine is great, but G+.. well.. Just because it now mattches the Android/iOS App /dosen't make it a automaticly good thing/.

      Go back to your sleek, efficent, neat ways, Google! That's why we loved you!

    • I still use Google as my primary search engine, Gmail as my e-mail provider, and Google Maps when I want to figure out how to go somewhere I haven't been before. Nothing they've done since then has provided any reason to switch from whatever solution I'm currently using. And I really don't think I'm alone in this.

      If there was an alternative to Google that wasn't total crap, I'd be using it. As it is, they still try to connect searches you make to a real identity by buying personal data from the major ISPs to tie your name to an IP address, etc. I've found myself having to only access it from Tor or other proxy networks to keep its privacy-invading "features" out of my web experience. And it seems like every month they roll out a new way of trying to screw with that, from "your computer may be sending automated queri

      • There is always Duck Duck Go.

        A bit slower but cleaner and presumably a bit more private.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          After switching to DDG for my default browser search field, I've developed a (unfortunate) reflex to prefix every search by '!g' (forward search to Google). DDG uses Bing for its own search back end --- which doesn't actually seem to be that good at figuring out what I'm looking for. Google still seems better at "reading my mind" --- convenient for search results, but disquieting on the "creepy evil what are you manipulating me into" front.

        • I tried to use Duck Duck Go, but for some reason I just hate the result UI.

          Also whatever it uses to search for results, just plain is not as good as Google (I read elsewhere your reply that it uses a mix).

          I've tried switching to Bing for a while which mostly works, but for coding related searches Google is still head and shoulders above all competition.

    • I still use Google as my primary search engine, Gmail as my e-mail provider, and Google Maps when I want to figure out how to go somewhere I haven't been before. Nothing they've done since then has provided any reason to switch from whatever solution I'm currently using. And I really don't think I'm alone in this.

      Nope not alone; I use Google as my primary search engine, Gmail as my e-mail provider, Google Maps and Google Earth.

      Hotmail used to be my web based e-mailer yet I can't access it for some reason. My HotMail account is active and I
      still use it, as I had forwarded my Hotmail to Gmail. Hotmail charged for POP'ing my e-mail, Gmail lets me do it for free,
      so I never have to open a browser.

      Checking to see if anything had changed I tried hotmail again, and got in, first time in years!
      This reply has actually been a

      • by oji-sama (1151023)
        I do believe that it (well at least outlook.com) does offer pop. What it doesn't support (again, I believe) is imap, which I would prefer.
    • Agree. Small comment, whilst I still love Google maps, Bing maps has really improved. Where I live, for example, (ouside USA), it's now better than Google maps, with more up to date aerial photos. Still no 'street view', of course.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      When G+ started out, it was clean, fast-loading, reliable, and did exactly what it was supposed to do and no more. You know ... like Google used to be. I had real hopes that G+:FB::Google:Yahoo.

      That might be true, I don't know, I wasn't one of the pre-adoption G+ users. But I can tell you that since G+ has been public, it has always been slower than facebook. The initial page load takes longer, posting a comment takes longer, posting a page takes longer, everything takes longer and as far as I can tell, it always has.

      Of course, this latest facelift to G+ is pretty much the worst "upgrade" of a google project ever. They really increased everything bad and ruined everything good. They're wasting eve

      • That might be true, I don't know, I wasn't one of the pre-adoption G+ users. But I can tell you that since G+ has been public, it has always been slower than facebook. The initial page load takes longer, posting a comment takes longer, posting a page takes longer, everything takes longer and as far as I can tell, it always has.

        Now that I think about it, yeah, I guess I was one of the beta users. What the hell, I tried that with Gmail, years ago, and that worked out pretty well ...

        The pre-public-release G+ was kind of odd-looking, but my God it was fast. I'm really sad about how quickly it went downhill.

    • by theurge14 (820596)

      Keep an eye on the newer Yahoo mobile apps. I tried the new weather one and was happily surprised. I still use GMail and probably will for a long time forward but I'm watching Yahoo now.

  • There's already making automatic decisions that harm their searches. For instance, autocomplete is now useless since it automatically gets you to "Are you feeling lucky?" and there's no way to turn it off. Worse yet, there are times when I automatically keep autocompleting by accident and I keep getting hit by "Are you feeling lucky?".

  • by Tridus (79566) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:58PM (#43746907) Homepage

    I use g+ regularly (I know, insert joke about being the only person on the net to do that here). I've liked it, for the most part.

    But yesterday? Man. That new interface went live and how I have three tiny columns of posts. Which itself might be okay, except they're in no discernible order whatsoever. New stuff I haven't seen yet is buried off the screen, but there's six things from two days ago still hanging around at the top. Sometimes new things appear in a visible spot, sometimes they don't. I don't know why I need three columns when each one is so small that it's barely telling me anything, and looks like it was designed for a mobile screen. (The iPad app has a similar layout but has much saner ordering and uses 1 or 2 columns depending on the size of the item. It works far better.)

    There's an option to turn it back to a single column, but the column stays the same size and now 2/3 of the screen is totally empty while I have to click to expand everything to see more than 30 words and scroll down like crazy. At least in that mode it seems to be ordered correctly.

    The main reaction in my g+ circles to the update was confusion. It wasn't even the usual "change is bad" reaction. People were just lost in how they were supposed to read this new layout and find the new stuff in a simple way.

    It's funny because g+ started off with a simpler, easier to use page than Facebook had. That's gone and reversed itself now. I really don't get what Google's thinking. As of right now, I'd actually rank the usability of Facebook more highly.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Ya, it's stupid. They've let phone design interfere the browser design I think. I'd dump it but it's the only thing to maintain some links to people I know (well, linkedin too, but I already overuse that to maintain non-professional connections).

    • by Threni (635302)

      The order wasn't broken yesterday. It's been wrong for months. I have no idea how they've not noticed this or why they haven't fixed it.

  • But it gets less fascinating as soon as you try and find that all these automatisms misfire as often as not. Google feels more and more like a big toy store that lets you play with all the toys for free if you allow them to go through your pockets while you're playing.

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:58PM (#43747387)
    Yahoo was the mostest winningest search platform for years, until they implemented pop-up advertising. Users immediately jumped ship to Google because it's fast, clean and accurate. Sticking to the 'lean mean searching machine' is what keeps Google on top. Others try to copy it and they fail.

    Google shouldn't be trying to out-Facebook Facebook, they should be creating a 'lean mean social machine' .. because that's what they're good at.

    Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?

    It's not necessary to counter Facebook, Facebook will do that themselves. Facebook is already getting whipped for privacy violations. All Google needs is a 'lean mean social machine' ie. a simple social platform which respects the user's privacy. Quit adding knuckleheaded features and focus on privacy and security. The short game is shiny widgets, the long game is for the win.

  • by todfm (1973074) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:01PM (#43747403)

    We're really digging the bottom of the barrel as an industry if we're putting energy into doing analytics on vacation photos to identify which ones contain landmarks. The way I see it, we've already accomplished the big things in computing (word processing, spreadsheets, image editing, etc.) and now all that's left is the constant development of minutiae.

  • The people at Google believe that if something can be quantified and identified, it MUST mean sometime. In the example given in the article summary, the only reason Google would assume that certain shots are "special" is that it happens to have the capability to identify certain locations, so OBVIOUSLY those would matter. Right? No, not at all. Google doesn't know what I want. Google doesn't know what I think is special. Google doesn't know what I think. The ONLY way it can have any hope of even making inte
    • Google would assume that certain shots are "special" is that it happens to have the capability to identify certain locations, so OBVIOUSLY those would matter. Right? No, not at all.

      What the automanagement of photos by giving them appropriate tags? The arrogance, and remember this is just one of 41 new features, including auto gif creation, or stick together pics to make a panorama.

    • Google doesn't know what I think

      I could have sworn I just heard 20,000 hard disks spin up.

  • Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.'

    Great, just what you need: a megacorporation to filter all your memories into cliched copies of a zillion other tourists' Taj Mahal photos. No need for building special memories of your own, with the person you're with --- that one shot, in some bland and unmemorable location, that would bring back with perfect clarity some jewel of laughter shared with your significant other: scores too low on Google Reality Rank Algorithm. But you can replace all your pitiful personal experiences with the postcard-perfect

    • Envision future Google - when you take a picture of a famous landmark like the eiffel tower, Google proceeds on a makeover that fixes lighting, removes rain, eliminates any trace of blur by using details from a million other photos to re-texture your image... so your picture looks exactly the same as every other picture of that landmark uploaded to Google.

      In the end it is perfect. But it has no soul.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:25PM (#43748271)

    Having had my share of agony in the past with things that have "+' in the name, I'm not using Google+ until we get to Google++11.

  • Google+ might have some hold on me, but I don't and it doesn't, so what exactly seems to be the problem?
  • So when I'm looking at photos of a loved ones' visit to the Taj Mahal, Google says that they're going to push *lots* of other people's photos of the Taj Mahal at me.

    Because I really want to look at the Taj Mahal. Endlessly.

    No you dipshits! I want to look at my loved ones enjoying their holiday! I don't give a flying f*** through a rolling donut about the holiday snaps of strangers, no matter how good, how artsy, how quirky, or how many there are with vaguely amusing pictures of sodding cats!

    Bet all you want

    • So when I'm looking at photos of a loved ones' visit to the Taj Mahal, Google says that they're going to push *lots* of other people's photos of the Taj Mahal at me.

      Thats not how I read the summary, it more a case of you upload all your photos and Google will use the ones with recognised landmarks as the special photos for you, use them as album covers etc.

      They are working on the basis that you are uploading everything you take a picture of and then want to sort through them to find that 1 special phot

  • Google is really missing the whole point of Facebook (Facebook tends to miss it too). It's not about whizzy features, it's about interacting with your friends. I don't use Google+ because few of my friends do. I really don't want to have Google+ OR Facebook finding new junk to stuff in front of me. I want to find out what my friends are up to. It's better than emailing stupid jokes around.

    I suspect too many Google staffers are never leaving the Googleplex anymore.

  • I want diversity, even if I don't agree, I want freedom even if it means I have to go to the 2nd page to find my search result. But most people are just sheep :P
  • by Legion303 (97901)

    Google's broken analytics keep telling me I would enjoy Drudge and Limbaugh apps, when I know damn well that I won't. To be fair, though, it's based on what's popular in my area. Other things "popular in [my] area" of Denver include local channel 7 affiliate apps from fucking Michigan and the like.

    Google's shotgun approach to personalization has yet to impress me.

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