Why yo daddy won’t use Google+: no noise control

OK, there are a few people giving me heck for using sexist language in my last post. Sorry for pandering to my audience, but when I visit engineering teams at tech companies around the world they are mostly male. At the recent WWDC (Apple’s developer conference) there were so few women in the audience that the professional press started talking about it. So the post resonated better than if I had started “why yo daddy won’t use it.” But I wanna be fair and non-sexist, and VC Fred Wilson gave me that opportunity this morning.

He says his dad will like Google+.

Um, Fred, no he won’t (and neither will most average people) and here’s why. But first, I agree with Fred that a healthy competitor to Facebook would be a good thing, more on that later.

Look forward a couple of months from now, or maybe six, when Google+’s new car smell wears off and all of us elitist, sexist, ageist geeks have something new to poke around with and get excited by (new iPhone anyone?)

Then we’ll all judge Google+ by its utility, not by its new car smell (and it is a damn fine smell, believe me).

The big problem will become quite apparent that there’s no noise control. Yes, this is what made FriendFeed, Google Buzz, and other systems seem lame and why Facebook continues to be more interesting to most people in the world.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I spent a lot of time going through thousands of people’s social graphs (IE, their list of friends on Google+) and I’ve picked out all of the VCs and put them into a circle.

I’m looking at that list right now. Problem is it isn’t giving me ONE THING that I expect VCs to talk about. There isn’t one item that talks about funding new companies, gives me some insider look into Silicon Valley, or that gives me tips for how to run my company to get better returns.

Instead I see Joi Ito’s dive pictures, Ryan Spoon talking about Facebook Places, David Lee changed his profile photo, Francine Hardaway posted some funny animated GIF, Paul Buchheit talking about Twitter celebrities. And on and on and on it goes.

There is no utility here. Yes, it’s sorta fun, yes, geeks love to see the dive photos that that Joi shoots around the world (me too, but it’s hardly what I expected to be able to see here and actually it’s better to see those photos linked to from Twitter and displayed in Flipboard).

So, until Google gives us the ability to control noise Google+ will continue not being used by average people (my metaphorical “yo momma and yo daddy.”

The thing is what is noise control?

Two things, one of which Google is known for:

1. Search. The ability to say “show me all cool new items that talk about venture capital.”
2. Sifting. This is similar to search, but goes beyond. “Show me all future items that talk about venture capital.”

Now, if Google+ had both of those things, along with a few other features, then Fred Wilson’s daddy and yo momma might see some deep utility in a service like Google+.

One last thought on this noise control thing. Facebook has a really deep achilles heel that’s associated with this. It’s that everyone over there was so freaked out by Zuckerberg’s privacy grab that they turned on most of the privacy settings. I recently went through many of my Facebook friends and some had gotten so freaked out that they — even though they were my friends and I meet them quite often — stopped letting me see their wall (I unfriended anyone who did that because it totally removed any utility Facebook has, which is to let me see your fun photos of you living your life). Jeff Jarvis noticed this too and totally nailed it as something that Google is doing way better.

So, if you take what Google+ is doing better (encouraging people to share more publicly) and you put it with some noise control (er, search features) then we have something.

Until then, yo momma and yo daddy ain’t gonna be on Google+.

By the way, geeks are arguing with me about this post over on Google+.