Open Thinkering


Why Google+ is like an extended unboxing video.

N.B. I wrote this last night just before Google opened things out via the ability to invite others. I’m posting it as a historical record of my thinking.


I’ve never understood unboxing videos, those rambling, self-glorifying, badly-shot YouTube shorts that literally show somebody taking a gadget out of its box. Whilst I understand the excitement of getting a new piece of tech, I’ve never felt the need to share the unboxing of it with others. Nor, surprisingly, have I been overcome with a desire to watch others do something similar.

Part of the appeal of the unboxing video, presumably, is a glimpse of the previously-unobtainable. For the person doing the unboxing, they get to show the world how lucky they are; the person watching the video gets a caffeine-like hit of anticipation that someday (soon?) they may also be able to get their hands on the shiny-shiny.

In many ways Google+ is like one big and seemingly-neverending unboxing video. There’s the haves frolicking within the magical and enchanted walls whilst the the have-nots try everything they can (purchasing invites on eBay, cajoling friends, begging Google) to get over, under or through to get in. Those enjoying the merry wonderland occasionally post enticing screenshots to the have-nots in spaces that were previously sufficient for social interaction. And just to rub their faces in it, they throw in the occasional link that those without Google+ passes won’t be able to access (“Oh, sorry about that!”)

I’ve been within the walls for a week now. As I explained over at Synechism Ltd. yesterday Google+ is almost there in terms of usefulness. But I’ll stop here before I become one of those annoying people who are equivocal about a space not everyone can access. It’s never about the technology, it’s always about how it’s used – and that’s why we need to get more people in there to start building the same habits, customs and practices we’ve developed together to make Twitter such a useful social tool.

Image CC BY-NC-SA dansays

One thought on “Why Google+ is like an extended unboxing video.

  1. How it’s used is *part* of the technology.  The ‘technology’ I think you mean (in this case, software) itself runs on ‘technology’ (which is broadly irrelevant, and might be any number of operating systems, in turn running on other ‘technology’ which is equally as irrelevant and might be any number of different hardware platforms etc) and runs across another ‘technology’ – the networking layer (again, broadly irrelevant) using specific protocols (possibly the least irrelevant of the technologies being used).

    The use of the system is a technology in its own right.  The processes we use to engage with the system are technology.  The way we use them, especially with new systems, directly influence the way the system is developed.  But even more key, I would say, is that the “data” we put on the service is actually the “system” other people are then using – the “system” itself is quickly subsumed by the information and the social practices (norms) which develop around it.  The system itself very rapidly becomes irrelevant, and the whole socio-technical system built on top of a particular ‘tool’ can be moved to another platform.

    Which is a very long comment about a very small part of your post ;-)

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