Why I disagree with +Fabien Scherschel that the new Google+ stream is universally terrible.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

1. Manual refresh is bad?

I genuinely love the fact that Google has given me back control over the refresh of the stream. Prior to the update, I would often be in the middle of a long posting, where I would want to consider the content carefully, and autorefresh would move the content downward to accommodate a new post. I found this a classic case of the interface distracting from the content, and I absolutely agree with Google, that the new method of manually accepting new posts contributes to the aim that the interface become more transparent between content and user.

With manual refresh, the content stays where I (the consumer, the most important part of the transaction at this point, I hope) put it, until I am ready to move on.

2. The variable 3 column layout is bad?

Again, I accept that this is a subjective judgement. But for me, the layout enhances my experience of G+. Before they changed it, I found myself using Facebook more than I used Google+. After the changes? I would estimate that has changed so that I use Google+ for more than 75% of my Social Web time. I think the reason for this is that G+ seems more active to me now. The screen is literally packed full of content, and somehow that gives me more reward for my scrolling effort input. Admittedly, I have occasionally found it hard to re-discover posts that I had read earlier. But I’m not convinced this is a fault of the interface, and that the posts may have been deleted, or have been suggested posts that would have been difficult to find under the old interface.

3. Autotagging is bad?

I don’t know whether Fab has criticised this feature. I don’t know whether he’s critisized the autoenhancing of photos either. To deal with both. I’ve already found the autotagging quite handy. I just gives you an instant connection to related content, and I don’t see the downside.

I think the autoenhancing of photos an excellent feature. I am utterly devoid of any artistic ability, so the automatic touching up of my photos is a blessing for me! You can turn it off if it offends you. But the suite of photo features they’ve introduced has just made it more of a pleasure and less of a hassle to use pictures with social media.

4. Hangout revisions are bad?

I’m not a complete Google schill. The confusion over what a hangout is, was plainly, a bollock dropped. But I get what they were trying to do, ie, reduce the barriers between text chat and video conferencing. What we have now is a product thats in development, purpose and branding limbo. But I can’t say that it deserves the death penalty. What do I think about this situation? I think once users understand the concept of the greater integration between text and video arenas the problem will be 25% solved, the remaining 75% will be for Google defining and tweaking their product according to user feedback.

Final Conclusion

Every time I’ve used Windows 8, I’ve found it utterly infuriating and impossible to use. However, I am prepared to accept that, a bunch of people love it, and wouldn’t want to part with it. I’ve also used every iteration of Ubuntu’s Unity interface (and Ubuntu Netbook Remix for that matter, but that’s an irrelevant digression, other than I’m specifically referring to the interfaces that are actually called Unity, not their UNR predecessors). I absolutely hated the first one with a passion, and quickly migrated to Linux Mint and Cinnamon. Nonetheless, I haven’t dismissed Ubuntu and Unity. I am still irked by what I perceive as the left handed chirality inherent in Unity, but regardless it has become more stable, more useable and less irritating with every update. Cinnamon and Mint on the other hand, has been going in exactly the opposite direction. I suspect that G+ will take a similar path. So I urge people who’ve had a similar bad start with the new direction not to dismiss it out of hand for the longer term.

Yes this means that I will have to force myself to give Win8 a fair reassessment after the forthcoming service pack. But better that than be a fundamentalist asshat.


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