Google+ is “dead”... Long live Google Plus—in a responsive ghost town

The throne shall never be empty. The Web shall never be without a Google social network.*

Google Plus

Google+ is changing again. To be charitable, it’s pivoting into a site for communities and collections—but the move has aroused the usual chorus chanting, “Google Plus is dead.”

Google says it has listened to users and focused on the features that make most sense. The company also warmed over the user interface, to make it more efficient and “responsive.”

So, like Henry III’s Royal Council, let’s salute the new Googly monarch.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers remember the good old days. Not to mention: ob. Ghost Town reference...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.
[Developing story: Updated 5:06 am and 9:17 am PST with more comment]

It’s not dead, it’s resting. Or so Hayley Tsukayama seems to say:

Google said it's redesigning its social network to center more on building online communities.

Google+ has had a rocky life, since it was first announced in 2011. ... Several people have declared, at several points, that the social network was "officially" dead...earlier this year, it seemed that the writing was finally on the wall.

The new design puts Google+ at odds with sites such as Reddit and Pinterest.

Current Google+ users should be able to preview the new layout on the Web now.  MORE

But Iain Thomson eyerolls furiously:

Google+ has been a lot of things...a sort-of social network, an identity manager...and something of an industry joke.

Since very few people actually use Google+ as a social network any more, the company has clearly decided to play to its strengths...think Usenet for the web age.

Google's never going to admit the whole idea was a failure...but it's going to be interesting to see if Google+ can establish a firm niche.  MORE

Google’s Eddie Kessler directs the streams:

We’ve spent a lot of time listening. ... There were two features [you] kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster.

[So the] fully redesigned Google+...puts Communities and Collections front and center.

Creating great products that solve real needs and make life something Google is always striving for. Your feedback got us this far.  MORE

Drew Olanoff drew this conclusion:

Google+ was never meant to be a social network.

[But] it did turn into a place where the company liked to show off its toys. [Some] like...Google Photos, will live on, some will be dialed back. But all together? It just didn’t work out. ... Unbundling and optimizing experiences is where it’s at.  MORE

So Mike Elgan pours a double espresso (and makes a GIF of it, natch):

Google launched Google+ to be the everything-for-everybody site. [But] news junkies stuck to Twitter; and Facebook strengthened it's unbreakable network effect monopoly.

Google+ became...where serious nerds, enthusiasts and makers can have detailed and stimulating conversations with a large number of brilliant people.

Google+ will stop pretending to be everything for everyone and instead focus on being the best place...for real conversations.  MORE

Meanwhile, Ex-Googler Mike Hearn drops the mic:

I went and took a look at the Game of Thrones community, seeing as that's apparently an example they wanted to highlight.

It consists almost entirely of image macros. That is not what the word 'community' implies.

I don't see how G+ can possibly ever get good at communities whilst it revolves around Facebook-sized pieces of text with giant images...especially not whilst it insists on clipping posts and comments to just a couple of lines.

I wish to be entertained and informed. G+ has no chance of doing either unless it redesigns a heck of a lot more than the stylesheets.  MORE

Huh? Waddya mean, you can’t see the new version? Sean Saguansin obliges:

In Settings, under Manage other apps & activity, click Manage Google+ activity. Then click on the search bar.  MORE

Update 1: Google’s Paul Kinlan runs the numbers:

We hit our goal of never downloading more than 60k of HTML...JavaScript [or] CSS at any one time!

Until recently, Google+ had two different [Web] for desktop, and one

[The] homepage weighed around 5MB and produced around 250 HTTP requests. [It] was almost inaccessible on slow and unstable networks.

We started with a focus on responsive design: one implementation that would work across mobile, tablet, desktop, and beyond. ... We chose JavaScript and CSS frameworks that built modularity and lazy loading in from the beginning...through a template driven that things work with almost no effort from developers.

With server-side rendering we make sure that the user can begin reading as soon as the HTML is JavaScript needs to run. [But when] the user clicks on a link...this is where client-side rendering becomes important.  MORE

Update 2: Writing from Lebanon, Rita El Khoury likes what she sees:

The previous Google+ page was a complete nightmare to load. I am bound by a stupid slow 512Kbps connection [and] that Google+ page was a heavy loaded mess of useless code.

And now? It's like night and day. ... I was dumbstruck. Google+ is fast.

The total home page weight dropped from about 22MB to less than half a MB.  MORE

And Finally...
Bands won’t play no more: Too much fightin’ on the dance floor

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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