Just 8 years ago, Google launched Google+ – a bold yet quixotic social network that was Google’s answer to Facebook. By 2011 standards it was an admirable attempt at creating something different and new, especially with clever features like organizing your contacts into “Circles” for easier control over sharing with different groups of people. But Facebook’s network effects were just too strong, and Google+ never really stood a chance. Now, in just a few days, it will be shutdown forever.
As a photographer, Google+ was a great platform for a brief time. Photographers flocked to it, looking to build followers and stand out in a world where Flickr was the dominant sharing platform and Instagram hadn’t yet made the big times. Google+ made it easy to share your Circles – giving people the ability to follow hundreds of others with a single click. Simply posting a few good photos got me recognition, and I was fortunate enough to get thousands of followers in a short period of time by just following the right people and having them follow me back and then share their Circles.
As a Googler, the shutdown is a little weird. I joined the company a whole year after Vic Gundotra had left and when it was already clear that Google+ was on life support. I heard the stories told by old timers about how long ago everyone had to stop what they were doing so that they could build a social network, always expressing some regret that it never paid off. From my point of view, the shutdown seems like a non-event; but Google is a big company and I know there are many people still working hard somewhere (probably Mountain View) to keep Google+ running to the end.
Last night I deleted two lines of code and removed this site’s integration with Google+ (one for following me and one for sharing my posts). The time for Google+ has ended, and with its eminent shutdown on April 2nd, it’s now time to say goodbye.
If you haven’t downloaded your Google+ data, you only have a few days left. The exports can take a while to build, so you should start before March 31st. After April 2nd, everything will be gone forever.