Day 1 Favorite at SXSW: Google+ Fireside Chat between Vic Gundotra and Guy Kawasaki

by Adriana Dakin on March 9, 2012

in The News, Tips For You

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Vic Gundotra and Guy Kawasaki in a SXSW fireside chat

Vic Gundotra and Guy Kawasaki engaged in a SXSW "fireside chat" about Google+ in front of a huge, packed auditorium at SXSW.

What was the coolest thing I heard today? Twas a a SXSW fireside chat between Vic Gundotra (Senior Vice-President of Social Business for Google) and Guy Kawasaki (Silicon Valley venture capitalist, author, Apple Fellow) to discuss the Google+ project.

Here are some highlights gathered for you from the conversation, in which Guy mischievously liked to point out problems he’s had with Google+.

Graphic notes of SXSW fireside chat with Gundotra

Vic said that the new Google is providing every service better now because it can track user behavior (if you allow it) from your circles — for example YouTube shows you videos that people in your circles like. He said, “We’re growing something magical — wait til you see how it all comes together in an integrated experience in the next couple of months.”

They want to combine the best of social and best of search by making ad content that’s relevant to you in the moment, but not served when you’re looking at something personal like photo albums, and instead when you’re searching for a restaurant (or other service/product).

You can turn off personalization of the search content with an easy-to-find button at the top of the page (though I haven’t spotted it), but they think that people will like the personal customization — for example, now if you search for a word like Cabo, you will see the regular set of found images plus photos of Cabo from friends.

One gripe that Guy has with G+ is that Google hasn’t given access to the API (that interfaces with software), so 3rd party tools like Hootsuite can’t be used to publish content on G+. Vic said it’s because Google needs to rank information correctly, doesn’t want 3rd parties injecting content into stream, and doesn’t want to screw over developers if they need to revoke it (“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than Facebook!”).

A key difference between Google+ and other social media is its live comments — Vic said that the nature of the conversation changes when its in real time and more fluid. Have you found that true? Makes sense remembering back to international calls with India, when there was an awkward time lag when I didn’t know whether to speak, or wait for my aunt to say something. You can also go in and edit a post. 🙂 Have wished for that with Facebook and Twitter!

Most G+ posts publish to your circles immediately, in real time. A problem that most people don’t have, but Guy does (he has 1.3m followers, right next to Britney Spears), is that as you climb higher in your follower count, your posts will take longer (say 1 minute) to publish because its fanning out across the service; Google is working on making this faster.

Guy has also experienced a spam problem … to counteract it, he stops posting around 9 pm Pacific because of spam-like comments from oversees when other countries wake up. Vic said that Google is working on the spam problem, but there are also different cultural norms for what comments should be like and what adds value in a conversation. He said that Google is now doing a better job of capturing and hiding genuine spam comments, for example those that tell you to go to a site, by finding suspicious accounts that post the same link on lots of top follower accounts. If someone reports spam, Google has ways to check if it really is spam, looking for false signals about spam.

Have you ever wondered if Hangouts are expensive to run, and if so, why Google offers them for free? Vic said they’d noticed that families weren’t connecting on video with each other nearly as much as they could because it costs money, and is complicated and awkward to initiate if you catch someone at the wrong time. So doing a hangout is a soft signal to others to stop by. And the duration of hangouts has been staggeringly long. What’s the point of providing hangouts? Vic said Google wants to connect people face-to-face to change the world together and do amazing things. Hangouts is just the beginning …

A task for us all if you haven’t yet: Go into your Google dashboard to see what Google “knows” about you, then correct it or delete it if needed so that content personalization works as well as it can for you.

Guy Kawasaki at SXSW meeting fans

Guy Kawasaki at SXSW meeting fans after his fireside chat with Vic Gundotra about Google+.

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