Oh No! Google+ Releases API

by francine Hardaway on September 15, 2011

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

“We are making this so simple even my mother can use it.” That charming phrase was uttered at TCDisrupt yesterday by the co-founder of Bitcasa.com, a storage service company. Thankfully, Paul Carr  reminded the audience that this is probably the last generation that will ever be able to use their mothers as fall guys.

As one of those perennial fall guys, let me now react to the Google+ API story this morning.

I don’t want or need the Google+ API as I now understand it.

What do I want or need? A way to sent my tweets to Google+. (There’s already a Chrome extension that’s better than this). A way to interact with Google+ completely on my iPad.

What I am probably going to get is a way to see Google+ posts on other services. Or worse, a whole host of new applications built on that API that I don’t know. I presume that’s what “read only” means. A developer can take data out of Google+. Oh, goody. More “client” type applications? But what use are they without both-way access?

At least that’s what I take away from Dave Winer‘s comment about Google not getting it. I trust Dave. He has a depth of knowledge, a historical view, and a native curiosity about software that makes him worthwhile, in much the same way that Steve Gillmor. There’s still a space in the universe for those cranky early geeks who existed before the barriers to entry got so low that everybody and his brother-in-law became an application developer, taking data from everywhere and porting it to everywhere else so that people like me can no longer remember where a post originated and where I meant it to be seen. In the case of some of my posts, it seems to be “write once read everywhere.”

I just hope I didn’t misunderstand.

Here’s why I’m not anxious to have my Google+ posts connected all over the place. There’s something to be said about keeping your communications separate. I try very hard not to post inappropriate things to LinkedIn, for example. but the occasional post about my dog makes it over there because some application I tried out and forgot about connected all my Facebook stuff to LinkedIn. (Oops. It was that same Chrome extension.)

I’m only being somewhat facetious. One of the reasons people feel so burned out by social media is the constant challenge of seeing all these new applications hit the scene with such a burst that they are difficult to resist.

But at the end of the day, very few of them stick. There was very little “disruption” at TCDisrupt. And most of the other startups I see don’t excite me either. It’s all apps, it’s all software, except maybe in healthcare or biotech.

I have the feeling that American innovation is incremental, rather than earth-shattering. This may be counter-intuitive, but I think it’s more disruptive to build a high speed rail system than another software company. Because in the case of true disruptive technology, you can answer the question “whose business will you disrupt?” In the case of applications built on APIs like that released by Google+, the answer is nobody’s. The apps will go in app stores and be lost among the hundreds of thousands of apps already there.



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