Facebook was never a big geek site (Google+ needs to pass more than the geek test)

The consensus I’m hearing from people on Google+ is that it is no Buzz or Wave.

It’s a quality product that has had a successful launch so far. I’ve even heard of people considering switching from Facebook to Google+ or from people who don’t use Facebook but will use Google+. These people all have something in common: they’re geeks and technologists.

Many of these people like Google+ because it’s not Facebook. It doesn’t have 750 million users, and its userbase doesn’t have sorority sisters or technophobic grandparents. Google+ isn’t the most popular site in the US.

Facebook has those sorority sisters who don’t like geeks. It has grandparents, mommy bloggers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, etc, etc, etc. It does have geeks, but it’s not a place for geeks by geeks.

I was on Facebook in 2005 when only a few schools had it. It was never a geek tool.

Never.

I learned about it from non-geeks who loved the idea of sharing photos and information with other students. It was like the campus facebook (a print publication that showed everyone’s year, major, a few interests and a photo), but a lot better. In fact, it’s hard to describe how silly that print facebook seemed that day Facebook came to campus.

Facebook back then knew which dorm you were logged in from and broadcast that to people viewing your profile (at this time, only Lehigh students could see my profile). Facebook also allowed you to list classes you were in. It was a different place, and at the time it felt kind of magical.

It felt magical because Facebook caught on like wildfire like only a non-geek tool could. It was considered strange at Lehigh if you weren’t on Facebook by 2006. But Facebook was something that only college students could use, and it was a much different dynamic then (frankly it was more immature and fun back then, but not necessarily better).

I say all of this because geeks and technologists like us don’t decide which technologies become hits. It’s the average user that does. Sorority sisters deserve to have technologies that help keep up on the latest that their friends are doing. Grandparents deserve to have an easy way to see the latest photos of grandchildren.

I’ve never been one to not like something because it was popular. Technology that is whole-heartedly embraced by the masses tends to be good for geeks too. Technology that becomes popular, especially when there aren’t barriers to entry keeping competition out, tends to be good technology.

I like Google+ and so does Jeremy. A lot of my friends and colleagues do too. But we’re geeks and technologists. Only when Google+ is open to everyone wil we really be able to see it’s long-term potential.