There are many people who seem to believe that Google+ is the next greatest social network. I’m only convinced that it’s the next LiveJournal.
Google+ is nothing new. It reminds me a lot of my “friends page” on LiveJournal circa 2002. The friends page was pretty much a feed of all the blog entries my friends had recently written. Some of them were entries about their day, some were questions and some were stupid pictures they found online. Hell I could even put my friends into different groups and target my entries at just those groups. Sound familiar? Circles.
Prior to Tom Anderson at MySpace there was Brad Fitzpatrick at LiveJournal. Who interestingly enough, has been working at Google.
What Google has done is very familiar. What comes around goes around. But there are two key differences between G+ and LiveJournal. First, Google+ is called a social network and social networks are hot right now. LiveJournal was (and is) an online journal. Is there a difference? Only in perception.
Second is journalists. Google+ is growing so fast not because it’s a new concept as I already pointed out, but because tech journalist are pushing it all over the place. Places like TechCrunch, TWiT and mainstream media are all crazy about G+. They’ve worked themselves up into a frenzy over it. Had they done the same with LiveJournal ten years ago, it would be a multi billion dollar company right now. To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure why there is such a frenzy for G+. My friends certainly aren’t jumping all over it like they did with LiveJournal back in the day. Many of them have joined, they just aren’t using it.
History repeats itself
So what happened to LiveJournal? It’s still around. The creator, Brad, ended up selling it to Six Apart, who in turn later sold it to some Russian company. Last I checked it was overrun by Russians and incredibly annoying advertisements. The kind that stop you to watch an ad between pages. But most of us had already gotten out a year or so after MySpace launched.
Which brings up a couple good questions. If LiveJournal back in the day was very much like Google+ is today, why did we all eventually jump ship to MySpace? Could the same fate await Google+ in a couple of years?
I remember going kicking and screaming into MySpace. I didn’t care for the design and I didn’t like the inferior blogging capabilities. Especially the lack of friends groups (circles). In all honestly MySpace and LiveJournal should have co-existed peacefully. They were two different beasts. But where MySpace ultimately defeated LiveJournal was in pictures and music. The LiveJournal profile was outdated. It only allowed avatars at 100×100 pixels in size and only three of them if you were a free user. There wasn’t even picture support for journal entries until later on when they added photo hosting. But you had to pay for it. As for music, the closest you got was the ability to tell people what you were listening to. There were no audio players or the ability to add music.
When we look back at MySpace we think of it as this completely out of control social network with no design standards. We forget that at the time it was revolutionary because we could make it what we wanted, we had big pictures and music galore. We could see each others friends as pictures rather than just names in text. Most of all you could search for people by age, gender and so on without limitations like LiveJournal had. To do that on LiveJournal you had to be premium and as far as i remember, it was still more limited. But my memory is foggy.
Interestingly enough it was those same reasons that Facebook ultimately overtook it in popularity. MySpace became a wasteland of animated gifs in slow loading profiles. Girls got sick of being messaged by creepy guys. Everyone was tired of autostarting music players and profiles which were once open, started getting locked down. Facebook was uniform, had no music or pictures in comments. People were friending and messaging only people they knew in real life. At that point I think everyone was just so tired of the circus that MySpace was they would take anything that was cleaner and seemingly safer. Facebook was the conservative party of social networks, bland and safe. But it’s what we all wanted at the time.
But if history is any indicator, there will be a new contender that will be to MySpace what G+ is to LiveJournal. I’ve already talked to quit a few people who say they miss the old MySpace. They look at Facebook and G+ and sigh in boredom. It’s too clean, there is no color. It looks like a corporate website. It feels like a boring place they say. It’s too grown up. Where is the fun? A lot of these people are female, entering their early twenties and they want to party. MySpace was a party. Facebook and G+ are not. Facebook is the family get together where people play games and G+ is the den where people go to smoke cigars and have conversations about politics.