Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to pin point our exact feelings towards something. So when I was clumsily trying to introduce the complexities and potential of Google+ as a Social Media platform to a new colleague, his response was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment for me:
While this is no way does Google+ any justice in terms of the fantastic details and qualities and the systematic benefits for users and marketers alike it does possibly give some insight into what’s holding back the hundreds of millions of users who aren’t ‘early-adopters’, and maybe what might be more of a long term struggle for Google in the way that it’s platform is perceived.
What Nick’s comment reminded me of was the kind of software that is seen in futuristic, science fiction films (which aim to underpin technological developments at every opportunity) such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, I, Robot, and Minority Report. In these films an extremely advanced and unified form of software, appears to molly-coddle humans to the point of extinction, resulting in some kind of conflict where human desires and wishes are compromised.
The conflict comes when the technology advances beyond our control, and whilst previously appearing to aid us, ends up rearing a much uglier side which clashes with actions and behaviour based on human sentiment and compassion.
For some reason when I think about Google, I feel some future resemblance with this conflict. Possibly it’s to do with Google’s background in relation to the internet; its relentless tracing of our habits; its mapping of our environments and its artificial intelligence ‘suggestions’.
Facebook felt like more of a ‘revolution’ in terms of empowering users, and although this quote never rings more true than with Facebook, it has a proven connection with people’s sentiments and emotions at the very core of our behaviour. Prime example being the recent rumoured suggestions of a ‘want’ button.
Thinking about the base emotional triggers that Facebook uses, (find/like/want/share) and comparing that with the ‘+1’ button it’s hard to see where Google is connecting emotionally with its audience.
Indulging this possible paranoia further could result in us seeing the ‘smoulchy’ Google adverts involving Dads and Daughters as early stages propaganda for what will later become the ‘state’ technological force which prevents Will Smith (us) from carrying out an honourable and humble existence.
In order to combat this future doom Google needs to identify precisely what its users really want out of a Google Social Network, possibly further communicating the sense of network and community that personalised/location-based search results can have. Personally I’ve not yet been properly sold on these benefits, instead promotional material has been focussed on how easier my life would be if I ‘jumped in’ – relinquishing my entire online life to Google. This may be true, but whilst these terrifying representations of the future of computering and human interaction with software are still around I’m approaching with caution, with my hand hovering over the big red ‘shut down’ button.
Follow Nick Wadsworth here: @NSWadsworth