Google+ has been making a lot of noise lately in the already outrageous soundboard that is social media and social networking. With key features such as easily handled social Circles; these being quite literal drag and drop-spots to dump categorized groups of friends, Hangouts; which will feature an easy-to-use video chat interface, and Sparks; a news feed designed to cater to the users personal taste, it would seem like a no-brainer that Google would finally create a would-be Facebook killer. A disappointment to many however, is Google’s quiet, almost ninja–like, stealth assassination of one of the more coveted features Google has unleashed on the e-universe. The termination of the Wonder Wheel has some social media savvy denizens of the web rolling in their ergonomic swivel chairs.
In the wild-west saloon, that is the modern day internet-landscape, failed social media interfaces line the hillside boots-up like a gang of outlaws that met their match in classic gunsmoke fashion. From the archaic godfathers of the industry, sites like LiveJournal and Friendster, to more modern attempts such as Ping and Orkut, the long, dried, parchment list of the deceased is far longer than the gleaming marble placard of the successful. Even Myspace, the Godzilla of social media has become no more than an occasionally annoying dinosaur in fancy, slow-loading clothing.
This isn’t Google’s first foray into the rodeo of social networks however, they tried and failed with the aforementioned Orkut, but the company does seem laser-focused on delivering the goods this time around. Google already has more users than even the mighty Facebook; most other search engines have fallen completely by the wayside. Do you remember Altavista? If so, you may be the only one. They have the Google/Android phone universe, and all those apps that non-Apple users are buying, have to come from somewhere. It is even becoming difficult to find email addresses not ending in “@Gmail.com.” It wouldn’t be completely outlandish to think you may start living in your Google home or driving in your Google car drinking a Google-cider. Google seems to have figured it out this time, tying all of these outlets together in one giant ever-reaching social-networking science experiment ready to bubble over with ‘+1’s’ and ripping social-doughnuts in front of our social-houses.
Why then would Google decide to sneak in through the bedroom window and axe one of their most intriguing and head-turning features at this particularly difficult-to-navigate fork in the road? Appealing to a broad demographic, the Wonder Wheel was intriguing to many; from companies themselves looking for a correlation between search terms and broader search objectives to college students searching anxiously for further and further reaching topics dovetailing an explosion of ideas. Many were just excited to have their eyes glaze over while feeding infinitely on information like happy Vermont-borne cows chewing cud. Google has been defiantly tight-lipped about the whole thing, only adding to the mystery of the missing Wonder Wheel.
It remains to be seen if this debatably large misstep is going to cause the snarling beast to topple over, or if it will only stub the giant’s toe on his march to glory. Either way, many are upset by the removal of this venerated feature and it will be fascinating to see how this plays out in the fast-paced social landscape. One thing is for sure, social networking as a whole is about to get very interesting.