Is Google+ just another Chrome?

I’ve been really frustrated with Google+ slowly consuming all the rest of Google services, because I find it so deficient compared to Twitter, and even Facebook. My long form content lives here, on my own server, in my own blog. Both Twitter and Facebook make it easy to also have that content live a life in their platform.

Google+… not so much. We’re more than 6 months after launch, and still no API besides scraping public posts. As such, I spend little time over there, and largely disdain the system, which doesn’t loose much, because there are so few people generating content there anyway. With the launch of their “Google+ your world” search yesterday, I was even more frustrated. G+, still with no API, is now infiltrating the search rankings. Grrrr.

But this morning, I read this, and it occurred to me, what if G+ is another Chrome. By that I mean a project that isn’t meant to be a market leader by itself, but one that’s meant to shape a market to keep it fluid. Twitter and Facebook have a pretty epic duopoly on content right now, and they are both working to make it harder to consume outside of their bubble. This summer they both quietly killed RSS feeds off. You can still consume via their API, but even in that front Twitter’s been waging a bit of a war on their API consumers, retaking the Mobile UI.

So maybe G+ was really a reaction to a trend Google was seeing, that the gated communities were throwing up more and more restrictions to making their content searchable in Google. Instead of bringing lawyers, bring technology. Make a competitor that is searchable, and get the gated communities to now really want to be included in the results. Make the market fluid again.

Maybe. I’m not sure I’ve even convinced my self of this. But it would explain some of the areas of focus in G+. It would also explain why public posts API is the only one they’ve released so far. At the end of the day, the social giant fight matters little to me, as long as I can syndicate into them, which is why the lack of G+ write API (and associated WordPress plugin) is my biggest concern. So while this softens my feelings on G+ a little, I really do wish they’d actually make the platform way more open. Then I might feel it was worth investing in content and discussions there. Until then, you can find my quick bits over on Twitter, and the long form ideas here, with Disqus, which makes it really easy to comment or converse outside the duopoly bubble.

Irene

I got to see this at Christmas, and it brought tears to my eyes. It was put together by one of the high school students in Rochester, and used as part of his application to college. An incredible piece of work, and really gives you a sense of what was going on up there when Hurricane Irene completely cut off these towns from the rest of the world.

Why is it pepper anyway?

Given that trickiness, I’ve started to wonder why pepper gets such Cadillac placement on the American table, sitting beside the salt shaker at every coffee shop and kitchen counter in the country. Why, too, do so many recipes invite us to season “with salt and freshly ground black pepper” upon completion? Why isn’t it salt and cumin, or salt and coriander, with every dish in the Western canon? What’s so special about pepper anyway? Perhaps it’s time to rethink the spice.

A fun article over on Slate about Pepper, why it’s in it’s role, and whether another spice might be able to replace it on our dinner table.

Getting Involved in Open Source

The first week of 2012 was pretty jam packed for me, which is a good thing. One of the many things that made this week busy was my talk, entitled “Getting Involved in Open Source” at MHVLUG.

This presentation was one of the hardest I’ve had to pull together, as well as one of the most fun to give. I had 3 entirely different slidedecks, each with their own narratives, each with their own dry runs, before I found something I felt would keep everyone engaged, not be too abstract, and time in at 1 hour. (The final dry run was 1:03, the live presentation came in at 1:05). That left plenty of time for questions, and still the ability to end the meeting by the advertised 8pm.

The focus on this talk wasn’t building your own open source project, but really about interacting with various communities. I told stories about reporting bugs, fixing small features in projects, getting into flame wars, getting ignored, and becoming the accidental maintainer of projects. The core center of the talk was a tale of 3 projects: 3 drupal modules that I’ve submitted issues and code to, that have gone in completely different directions. This was to make the most important point of the talk:

Open Source, it’s made of people!

When folks get involved in Open Source, they think that it’s all about code. My experience has been that while the code is very important, the people are just as important. Understanding how to interact with a wide range of personality types is one of the most important skills for an open source developer. How do you get conversations rolling? How do you get your ideas listened to? When do you know it’s not going to work, and a new approach is required? When do you just walk away from an idea, because it won’t fit in this community?

With 37 folks in attendance, this was one of the larger MHVLUG meetings. The fact that it was also in our new location, made me really happy with those numbers. A very good way to kick off the new year.