What Google+ adds to news

To paraphrase Mark Zuckerberg, it is too soon to know what Google+ is. But I’ve been trying to imagine how it will and won’t be useful to news. You should add rock salt to anything I say, as I thought Google Wave would be an important journalistic tool. With that in mind, a few opening thoughts:

* Google+ likely won’t be good for live coverage of breaking events because its algorithm messes with the reverse chronology, promoting old posts when they get new comments. It doesn’t favor the *latest* the way Twitter and liveblogging do and live news is all about the latest. I don’t see Andy Carvin making the switch.

(I’ve wished that I could have the option to get a stream only of newly submitted posts. Many have complained about the promoting of too much old stuff. Sergey Brin said on G+ yesterday that they’ve tweaked the algorithm to give less weight to comments from people you don’t follow.)

* G+ should be good for collaboration on reporting. When I ask a question, the answers appear with my question and subsequent responders can improve on earlier answers. With Circles, I can focus my questions on a specific group (e.g., VCs) and can benefit when their circles see their interaction with me — so long as I am not fool enough to disable sharing.

* If Google gets its synergistic act together and incorporates Google Docs — and some of the tricks from Wave — into G+, then this could be a very good collaboration tool for communities to gather together and share what they know. That’s the basis for news.

* G+ will be good for promoting content. The service isn’t yet open and I have almost more than 7,000 followers. Memes spread quickly on G+, but because of its time-bending algorithm, they also last longer if they spark conversation — that’s its plus side (no pun intended). Automated spewing of headlines likely won’t be effective, but conversing will.

* I see a big problem in the G+ restriction of one link per post. I find that sadly ironic. G+ is a service for sharing and links are the essence of responsible sharing, revealing the provenance of facts and giving credit. A blog post is a better vehicle for a well-sourced, well-linked post.

* G+’s identities likely won’t be as reliable as Facebook’s, as it is easy to create an account and identity on there are not the social pressures for authenticity. Then again, people will invest in their Google profiles, especially as they become more prominent in search (see what Google is doing with authors, broadly defined; I’m one of them in the test). I’m still trying to get my head around the play on identity among Google, Facebook, Twitter, and players yet to join in.

* G+ may be a good place to find photos from news, depending on whether witnesses favor putting them there or on Twitter or on Facebook or on Flickr and how well Google does at making them searchable.

I see that we will have to teach Google Plus at my J-school. Especially at the start, it will be valuable to have students brainstorm how they could use it. That’s the way journalists should approach every promising new tool.

What do you think G+’s uses are for news?

  • http://whatmarkread.blogspot.com/ Mark S.

    What is it with Google and promoting a link to the top if it gets a new comment? They did the same thing in BUZZ and it was annoying. If I didn’t care about the link/comment when it was first posted, then why would I care about it now that it has a comment.

  • http://www.insideview.ie Bernie Goldbach

    Have you considered “Photos from your circles” as a dropbox for images shared by deployed journos? I’ve pushed the instant upload facility hard, including a 433 MB video file, that could’ve been harvested by a production team and played as broadcast content.

  • http://reallycoolous.com/ Ludwig Coenen

    You’re looking mostly on the side of producing news, what i’m curious about would be the impact on distributing news. Google just shut down their real time search, because the contract with twitter ended. In the same time, “Sparks” within Google+ is until now pretty boring IMHO. As every network has it’s own dynamics when it comes to sharing news, I’m excited to see what will they look like for google+. what is needed soon, is a better handling of news being shared by multiple people you follow. This kind of ‘duplicate content’ looks quite messy right now, but I’m quite sure they will figure something out for that :)

  • http://ifihadmyway.com Doug Skoglund


    If you (the media) would get your act together you would know where you are going and would be able to program the computer to serve your needs instead of trying to adapt to a program designed for other purposes.

    You need your own database instead of depending upon Google.

    Why do you think that I have been trying to make contact via e-mail — that you have so successfully ignored??


    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      You are sending me comments-as-emails.

      • http://ifihadmyway.com Doug Skoglund

        That’s your opinion — not mine!!!

      • http://ifihadmyway.com Doug Skoglund

        BTW — interesting how you ignore the first two paragraphs and react defensively to the third.

  • Matt

    Once I have access, I will be more than happy to research the possibilities.

    • mellonmarshalll

      same here, that is the big thing with G+ at the moment is the access and that they even had to close that off for a bit.
      I don’t think you can know anything until there is like a million users or so and even then be hit and miss for a while longer.

  • Mike

    Facebook at least gives you an option of chronology vs their algorithm of what is important. I certainly have issues with any “big brother” telling me what is important no matter how benign the algorithm.

    My greater issue with + and its potential downfall is that it is a walled garden (yeah, the “open” company). Success by the likes of Twitter & Facebook is rich API that allows integration with multiple services of user choice. Twitter is my primary tool of choice, it feeds my Facebook wall; that makes the isolated + a distant 3rd. In addition, I don’t use gmail, so I don’t get notifications unless I remember to check out +.

    Right now, I see users promoting their + posts through Twitter so I don’t think I’m alone in seeing some of these weaknesses.

    In addition, many of us are treading lightly on + because of Google’s prior lack of interest in their initiatives when they don’t meet their lofty goals. While I agree Google has learned from their mistakes of Buzz & Wave, the bigger question is will they stick with +?

    Google would do far better to make + an environment that serves their users by complementing what they are already using, not trying to kill it.

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  • http://www.darryljonckheere.com Darryl

    Jeff, I really like your Google+ profile pic. Unlike Zuckerberg’s page you actually have a lot of interesting posts in your feed.

    In some ways Google+ pages remind me of Tumblr –the look and feel resembles a bit of a hybrid UI between a Twitter feed and traditional blog posts.

  • http://elitegroupz.com absolute7

    Google + is the best here giving my website a great reputation

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  • http://www.thepomoblog.com Terry Heaton

    The most useful tools for newsgathering that I’ve discovered here all involve my Android phone and its G+ app. To take a photo and have it automatically appear in the cloud is significant. Also, to check into a public stream of + members “nearby” has pretty big implications for covering a local spot news story.

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  • http://awesomize.me/eliasshams Elias Shams

    This is awesome!!! The more social networking sites like Google+ and the new myspace popping up, the better for my new gig, awesomize.me ? Social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. Here is my 2cents on this whole internet -> search Engine -> Social media things and my rational on why there is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the companies about their online connections. A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies:

    – Early 90s: WWW was born…
    – By mid 90?s: millions of sites popped up on the Web…
    – Mid – late 90s: Yahoo & Google were born to help us to find the right information of the right pages on the Web…
    – Early 2000: Social media was born…
    – Late 2000: Millions of pages created by people, companies, and organizations on all these social media channels.
    – 2011: Deja vu all over again… we are back to early 90’s…

    That is why I built awesomize.me to accomplish such a mission – the portal to all your existing social media channels.

    CEO & Founder

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  • http://motherfumblr.com Brad Bernard

    I find it funny that when Google + came out, all my friends signed up but no one stayed. It was supposed to trump Facebook but it did absolutely nothing. I have 2 friends on G+ and it will be like that until Facebook dies.

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