OMG/JK: Yes, Of Course You’re In My ‘Friends’ Circle. Swear.

Hey, we’re here for a new episode of OMG/JK? I am Jason Kincaid in New York.

And I am MG Siegler. As you can see this is a little bit different. Jason abandoned ship and moved to New York. So this is how we’re gonna do it, split screen now, I guess, which is kinda cool. You’ve got a nice bloody hamburger in your background. That’s pretty awesome.

Could reach over and pat you on the head, almost.

And I’m sitting in your old seat so this is…


This is kind of interesting. But let’s dive into what we’re actually going to talk about. All right. Let’s do this.

First thing is Google+. This was finally announced. This is Google’s, of course, big social strategy. We’ve known a bunch of things that have been sort of involved in this for a while. We’ve leaked some things, but now it’s all together and actually out there in the wild and people have been playing with it for a little over a week.

So what are your initial thoughts on it?

So, I think it’s way better than what everyone was expecting. I think that Google has built something that’s pretty compelling here. It doesn’t have any clear privacy issues, the UI is much better looking than much Google products are. I think it’s still too early to say whether or not this is something people are going to stick with think it’s got all the, the tech people love it.

But they tend to love anythings that new and that they have early access to. So I think it’s going to be another 60 days or so until we see if it really has staying power.

Yeah, I agree. I mean, right now we’re seeing what we see with many services when they initially launch, is that almost everyone on it seems to be talking about Google plus. They are not actually using it as they might use another social network, you know, twitter, facebook or whatever they talk about, daily things, regular things that hopefully I’m sure what Google wants to be able to talk about right now it’s all Google Plus.

And the one thing that I’ve noticed about it I usually do like a lot too. I think that it’s way above like the expectations were which is not saying much because they were so low giving what happen with Buzz and to some extent Wave and some of the other things that they’ve done. But the one thing I will say is I really am not sold on the Circles idea.

I like the the concept of it and I like how you have to kind of use it in order to first, initially set up Google Plus. You know, you have to drag someone into at least, like, one circle to be able to follow them but I’m not just sure that a lot of people are going to end up using that. We’re already seeing right now, everyone is posting to public and maybe that’s because there’s not that many people on the service, but I don’t know if that’s not going to be the way it always is.

Part of the reason why people are posting in public, I think a lot of the people that we’re following tend to be those those people all go on twitter and so on, but I think you are right, as far as the circle model. I think it is really complex relative to what people are used to and, you know, Facebook did launch friend lists, which are very similar to what circles are.

Now, they did that years ago and people didn’t use them. And part of that is probably a UI issue that the wasn’t so true as this far as building on the list and the incentives to do so wasn’t really made that apparent but at the same time I think there’s a reason why Facebook has never moved to emphasize it despite the fact that they’re getting all this privacy criticism over all these years and that’s because it’s pretty confusing.

I mean, by and large, I think all Google the way Plus approaches falling is very confusing. You don’t necessarily have to understand how it works uses the surface? But the notion of, “I’m following someone and they’re sharing with me and it’s my incoming stream.” It’s just all very.

That’s very, I totally agree. That’s totally confusing, like, when you compare this to Facebook groups, which is, you know, the newer group thing that they launched last year, you know, some would say to get out ahead of ask his people knew that this kind of thing was coming from Google. If you compare to that, it’s really interesting and I think Zuckerburg mentioned this in a press conversation and talk about that in a little bit, but, it’s,it’s the concept of the circles with the following.

I can share something to a bunch of people in my circle but they don’t realize that they’re in that circle so when they share back not sharing to that same people in that circle. And that’s totally different from what a Facebook group is which is where everyone knows everyone else is in that circle.

So I think that that’s kind of a complex thing that they really need to figure out how that’s going to work.

I think that’s the case, I think the use case for groups versus circles is still different so I don’t know if there’s going to be too much, I’ve seen one criticism of circles that I actually ran into is that, when you post something, even if you make it public, you don’t necessarily realize that anyone is going to be able to comment on that post, so you start getting comment like I’ll post a a goofy Justin Bieber fragrance commercial.

Allright. I don’t mean, that’s also interesting too, because they’re in many ways this reminds me a lot of FriendFeed the way it was and still is but no one uses that anymore, but it’s like, you know, you’ve got this stream of stuff. But it’s a little bit better because FriendFeed was dominated by tweets coming in and Google Plus doesn’t allow you to do that, so it’s focused on things that people actually want to share which is good and that will lead to more interaction, I think on the content itself but the notion that when comments if bubbles backup to the top, it’s really starting to annoy people.

I mean, I look at it and I see the same content over and over again.

Well, also the fact that everyone can comment like, I guess, this is my fault because I share it publicly, but it’s still sort of a jarring moment when you share something that you think is goofy and then some random person starts criticizing your post.

Wait, this wasn’t what I was going for when I shared this.

And the idea, and I know they’ve changed this now, they have a drop down thing to be able to lock this feature but anyone can re-share something that you’ve shared. So it’s like, you can share it with a specific circle of people, but if someone else shares it with another circle, it’s like, then who knows who’s commenting? Who knows who’s seeing it. It’s really kinda weird. And they did fix that, and their, so their credit, their doing a great job I think of tweaking things on the fly.

There all, a lot of the team seems to be in there from Vic Gundotra on down. You know, kind of responding to things and just saying, like, “Oh, yeah, we’re listening to feedback and they really are tweaking things on the fly”. Also we have to mention My Space Tom using it he did a guess post for us about it — and it’s like, that’s kind of hilarious how much he’s involved in it.

I think one other thing we definitely have to talk about is the fact that the mobile app, at least on the Android is really well done.

And so I hear. I there is no iPhone at yet. Supposedly it’s in review?

Oh, there is an iPhone app. Apple hasn’t approved it yet.

I mean there’s no reason that they won’t approve it, I assume. I don’t think that it’s doing . It’s not going to have all the same functionality that the Android app will have like the, the instant share a thing which is pretty awesome.

I mean, actually, one point on that. It’s really cool to understand it. To be perfectly honest, the first time I use it, I was suprised, because I was under the impression that it would automatically upload photos that you took within the Google Plus application. And what I’ve found is that it uploads those automatic but it also uploads a photo taken with any other camera app or at least the default camera app. Which sort of surprised me.

Because I was like, “Oh”. Because the description when it tells you what instant upload is is doesn’t really get into the “by the way, every single photo your taking on this phone is going to be according to Google servers.” I would not be all surprised if we see some back-lashed unless Google preempts it with a really thorough explanation, a walk-through video saying “hey, you’re uploading this.

It’s really really cool but just be aware of it.”

But they do to their credit, they do set it to a private album that’s not shared with everyone at first right?

That’s one of those things I just don’t think people are going to recognize that it’s private. I think they’re going to post some photos they don’t want on the Internet and they’re going to see it on the Internet and they’re going to freak out regardless if anyone can access it, I mean there’s always on Google servers now, maybe the Google people are looking at it, or wherever, that sort of thing.

So I think we should move on to our second topic. Facebook, in substance, has countered the launch of Google Plus although, you know, they’ve been working on these features for awhile I’m sure. And the biggest of them was Facebook Skype-powered video chat.


Which I think we had the sense of this coming for a long time and it was really obvious speech integrate at the same time I think it’s a pretty big deal. So what’s your take on it so far?

So, yeah, I wasn’t at the press conference. I know you were watching remotely live But I followed along right afterwards, and, you know it’s like, we did know that a lot of that was coming. So I was a little bit disappointed that there were no huge surprises,they did a new chat thing were the chat is long the right inside which actually is pretty nice I think because that really spurs you to use it more.

But in terms of the video chat feature itself, I tried it out a few times. It does work very well. You have to download a plug-in which is a little bit annoying to have to do that but once you do that, it works very well. It’s interesting how it’s set up as opposed to a feature of Google Plus which is called hangouts which is also a video chat thing but it’s really kind of different I think Mike hit on that in a post he did.

Right. Definitely, confirmed these different things. Hangouts is cool. I mean, to be perfectly honest, I’m still waiting for that, like my good friends who aren’t in the tech scene. Like they say all the people I went to school with and on. I want to get to hang out with them.

And just kinda shoot the shit for an hour because I think that’s really where the potential is. As far as the Skype integration on Facebook I don’t, I don’t think it’s a feature that tech geeks like us are necessarily gonna get super excited about because we’re fairly adept at using Skype and if one of our friends doesn’t no how to use it we can probably walk them through the install process.


And this is something that Facebook emphasized during the presentation: it’s the easiest way to initiate a video chat. And yes, you still have install a browser plugin but I mean, it’s quite streamline but at the same time it’s not perfect right? Right. Back then you still have to click the installer that I’m sure some people are gonna be hung up on that you know, but we don’t have the web based Skype yet.


But like I said, I, I think the power of this is not necessarily gonna be readily apparent to people who have been using Skype for years.

Yeah, what do you think about, like so, I actually have it open right now in my computer, you know,the side-chat thing, you think, that’s something that will like, because obviously a big part of this is that people have to be looking at the chat window to see like whose online and lot of people had that just collapsed and now it’s open by default or whatever you can see who you chat with.

I mean is that, do you think that’s something that’s actually going spur usage of this, this feature in particular?

I think that’s the goal, I think, it annoyed me. When I log into Facebook, it’s like “Oh by the way your chat window like you had closed for how many months now. Now, filling up like a significant person of your screen.” I was sort of, “Thanks Facebook.” And the funny thing is, it’s actually unnecessarily difficult to get rid of that because not only do you have to say that you’re not available, in other words, you sign out.


But a second time to minimize that window. It doesn’t really take the hint. It still stays there. Oh, thanks, I really want that there.

I think it only shows that if your browser is wide enough to accommodate.

Yeah Both the main site and the chat window. Is it going to spur usage, I’m sure it’ll get a lot of, one of the things they’re doing is actually when that’s, when that’s open and you click on it,
actually prompt you to start a video call with somebody. It’ll say hey here’s a new video I got.

Right, right.

So, it, I do think it gonna introduce it to plenty of people. Do I think it’s longer term it’s going to make, the fact that that bar is there is going to shift a lot of people off like G Chat.

Right. What about this? So, they don’t have a mobile component for this yet which seems natural thing. Obviously, they’re going have to update their apps and working on it. They’re going to wear an iPad and etc. Do you think that would be a big component? Now, it seems, you know, if they really want us to compete on a larger scale with Facetime then what Google is doing now with Android be able to do video chat from the mobile.

It seems like a pretty big component of this but again Facebook doesn’t have their own Phones, so they have to do it through these applications. Do you think that’s a problem for them to have to do that?

So, I think I’m in the minority here. I don’t think video chat on mobile is that great yet? And I just, I think it’s the sort of thing that you try.

Well, you have an Android phone, so we’ll forgive you for that. No, I mean Android for several months now has had video chat available through the Nexus apps.


And through the tablets and I tried it out on both of them, but it this. Even though I have it available, you know, I have never felt compelled while walking down the street to video chat anyone.

Yeah .

Maybe this is something I might do with my family at some point, or I guess, with a really, really good friend. But it’s not the sort of thing I just casually want to start doing. I think compared to say like Google Hangouts.


And be a bit more casual. I don’t think it’s going to be like a huge deal if Facebook doesn’t launch a mobile version of this in the near future.

I agree with that. I think that you know, it will take something like this, where you know, 750 million users and by default now they all have this chat window open so many people will become more comfortable with using video chat. There really hasn’t been anything like that that has made people comfortable using it and I think the key to that may be not only this and you know the one for the one-on-one chat, but even better is what you’re saying the Google Plus Hangouts feature because they really thought about that, like why don’t use video chat.

When I met with them to talk about this, it’s like they were really thinking about then, it’s like, ” Well, you know, maybe we really need to rethink if from the ground up and using this kind of super social way of doing things for many people can be in the room and you cut between people as they’re talking, that’s really interesting and maybe that does for usage of video chat in general like on mobile devices I think one of the reasons why hangout is so, not that it jumps between multiple people and the fact that it’s work based, but also because the way that you initiate the chat.

It’s not this weird, because anytime I want to start a video chat with someone.


It’s like a big social hurdle, if you want to call it that. It’s,it’s more than even a phone call. Right now if I get a phone call and I don’t want it, I feel irritated. If I get a video chat invitation and I don’t want it, I’m like, “What do you want?” So Right.

So, that’s the nice thing about hang outs. Where it’s just sort of like, “Hey, I’m hanging out” if you’re bored.

Right, if you’re interested, you click the button and you’re all set to go. That’s very true. Facebook could do a status option, where you can click, “I’m bored. Come video chat with me.” I doubt that that will be that difficult for them, but I do think the way Google’s done it is pretty smart.

So,let’s, we’ll move on then to the final topic.

Are you doing? So, please correct me where I’m wrong. I read a post and you’re apparently giving up email, what is it, for a month?

Well,till the end of July. So, I’ll give the back story here. We all hate email. You hate email as much as I do. It’s a super large problem. Especially, those of us in this kind of blogging world, the journalism world. Because this is how so many people reach out to us, and try to contact us and especially when we’re hooked into the Tipps Tech Crunch account.

We’re seeing hundreds and hundreds of emails every single day.

So, I fully realize that the problem that I have is maybe more pronounced than what an average user would have. But I do, at the same time, I do think that over time this is going to be a problem that everyone has. And this is how this came to be. I came home one night. I was actually in Washington, DC to see the President the first visit…

Your just in DC seeing the president.

Just meeting the president, it was pretty cool. But so, I was coming home from that event and I’m just like I get bombarded by email. I hadn’t checked my email in a few hours, and all of a sudden I had like, I don’t know Eighty-five unread email messages. Many of which people wanted a response to about something like, “Hey, MG, do you want to check this out?

Blah, blah, blah.” Over time, I’ve slowly just unfortunately had to not respond to many of those, because it’s just completely untenable. I mean, I couldn’t possibly do that without being it my full-time job.

So, anyway, so I started tweeting some things along those lines. If I were to answer all my emails that I just got right now, it would be a full-time job. And I get dozens and dozens of responses on Twitter coming back at me like, “Totally agree the system is broken.” And we’ve all known this for a while, but it’s like So, why don’t I just do something about it?

So, why don’t I just do something about it. Why don’t I just do an experiment and see what happens, if I just don’t look at my email at all for a month. Will anything really change? And so that’s what I’m doing. I have some emails that I promised that I would get responses to. And so, I’ve been slowly working through those so I still have to check a few emails here and there.

But hopefully, in a few days I’ll be completely removed from email whatsoever. And even just doing this limited amount that I had been doing, it’s awesome. So much more free time. It is great.

Well, the rest of us pick up his slack. No, I’m just kidding.

Yeah, I mean there are going to be ramifications of this. Maybe the Tips account. I have this little auto responder set up saying like basically, I’m not going to be responding to emails for the rest of this month. If you really need to get in touch with me, I’m sure you can figure out another way.

If not, maybe you can at the Tips text, if you really need something.

Well, how many midnight phone calls this leads to or text messages?

Yeah, I mean so far, it’s lead to a lot more DM which I think is great also, because DM is a white-labeled, basically messaging service where only people can DM me who I’ve chosen to follow. So, that’s a very limited way so, more Facebook messages. Go ahead.

It’s not necessarily white label, it’s Twitter.

I don’t know if Yeah right.

People necessarily messages.

Sorry, white listed not white white label, yeah. Right. White-listed.

So, yeah, I mean one of their, so, it’s a white, you’re saying, “Yes, email sucks.”

Right. the reason why its so rad it’s like no one came up with a better solution. Obviously, Google is actually, trying, they are doing a lot to make it better with Priority Inbox and so on. And
I think.
One thing we have to make clear is email’s an issue for a lot of people. I think we are probably in the top like point five percent of people, in terms of the amount of email we’re dealing with.


One interesting idea though, I saw recently. I think it’s called ShortMail. I’m not so sure. It’s a service where you sign in and you basically create an alternate email account, but it restricts the length of an email, it’s 500 characters.

It’s 500 characters.

I’ve been talking with those guys a bit and using that service in a very limited fashion. Right now, most people don’t know. Like when I address there, so you know they’re still reaching out on the other things. But something like that is totally compelling. And I’ve actually, I wrote a post several months ago asking Google you know like asking them for a feature.

I want Gmail light. That’s what I really want. I want something that doesn’t have all of the baggage of email systems. I mean these have been around decades now. And everyone’s been using the same basic thing, where it’s you have a person, an email address that you send it to. You have the subject line, maybe you have a CC and then you have a message.

And then you have to click this button. In many ways, Facebook I think has done the best job so far of getting people to a little bit, at least, move away from that with Facebook messages. People aren’t using it enough, and it hasn’t been rolled out enough. But I think as a communication platform, basic messages I find really unreliable primarily because it highlights the messages that are from your friends, but makes the ones that aren’t from your friends so unintrusive that you’re probably going to miss them entirely.


They aren’t even included in the unread account. Right, you have to click messages, I think, and then you’ll see you have three other.


Messages from people you don’t know. But I mean those could well be important messages. You just haven’t gotten a social connection with that person previously. So, I mean I think they’re making some strides there. I could I never use Facebook messages instead of my email.

But at the same time they do even have email integration, like you can email someone at their address and that will get sent to them. But yeah, I totally agree they need to kind of rethink that interface for it, I guess. But I like the mechanism of it. I just love that that it has like a little sliver for the respond thing, so it’s almost like a chat, an IM instead of a message, and if you click the little box to enable quick send And you don’t even have to hit a send button, you just have to hit enter after you’re done, and it’s the little things like this I think that really do matter.

Okay. Stuff like that, I’d rather just not get messages I don’t care about, but I guess I’ll take what you can get.

I mean that’s kind of what it, what it’s all about really, me, not checking my email is providing a new filter for messages as they come to me.

This is an idea that I see come up every once in a while and I think Mike tweeted about it and some point got some flack for it. It was the notion having sort of like a postage.

Yes, right. This is the old Bill Gates. Bill Gates wrote about this in the 90s, I remember and got a lot of flack. It was like what if we made email message where you basically had to pay a penny or a fraction of a penny even, because the problem was to prevent spam which spammers where sending millions of messages, so pennies at a time leads to a lot of money that they would be charged but most people won’t mind spending a penny or a fraction of a penny sending emails if it’s important enough.

Right, which I actually think the more I think about it that would not work for us at all because most of the people who are trying to reach us are very driven. And they’re willing to send us cake and stuff we don’t we don’t.

It’s certainly going to be willing to pay.

They would just have a budget for the spam Tech Crunch.

Exactly. Well not, they probably wouldn’t call it spam, they’d call reaching out or pitching or something.


So anyway so I think that does it for this episode of OMG/JK. I’m going to be in the studio next time hopefully, so I’ll look even better.

No hamburger, no hamburger in the background?

Yeah, that’s actually exactly why I picked this room. I don’t even what room I’m in. I’m in the AOL brand room, or something, that’s what I do, I just barge into rooms. Join me next week.

All right, thanks.

We’re back for a new episode of OMG/JK, and, in the spirit of Skype’s new integration with Facebook, we’ve decided to try out this nifty video conferencing technology for ourselves!

Okay, so the split-screen action was primarily motivated by the fact that I’m now out in New York, but it’s certainly timely. In this week’s episode we discuss the new Skype/Facebook launch at length, and we also do a deep dive on that other social network that now has a heavy emphasis on video calling: Google+. I think that’s how it’s spelled.

We also touch on MG’s recent decision to ditch email for the month of July, which will only make his August that much worse.

Oh, and don’t worry — video quality for my half of the screen will be much better starting next week, as I’ll be beaming in from AOL’s studio.

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