The Washington Post

Google+ vs. Twitter

Farhad Manjoo thinks that Twitter should allow 280-character tweets rather than 140-character tweets. I think everyone should just move to Google+.

The 140-character limit is Twitter’s most obvious feature, and so it’s understandably assumed to be a major part of its success. And maybe it has been. But I think it’s at least as likely that Twitter improved on Facebook by realizing that the circle of people you want to follow and the circle of people who want to follow you are not necessarily the same but has been hindered by the 140-character limit, which makes most tweets uninteresting and renders it impossible to have real conversations.

I was optimistic about Google+ from the beginning, but mostly because I thought it would offer a chance to create the sort of private social network that Facebook originally was, but eventually evolved away from. But it turns out that Google+ retains Twitter’s appreciation of asymmetrical social networks: people can follow you without you following them, and you can choose to broadcast messages to them, and they can reply, and so on. I’ve been experimenting with this over the last few days and have been really surprised and impressed by how rich the resulting discussions are. It’s really highlighted the drawbacks of the 140-character limit and made Twitter a lot less appealing to me.

That’s been a surprise. I thought Google+ would be a better private social network than Facebook, and that’s proven true, at least for me. But I didn’t expect it to be a better public social network than Twitter. At this point, however, Twitter seems good for posting links, making jokes about live events that everyone is watching at once, and, on my private account, informing friends which bar I’m at. Google+ is better for posting interesting quotations, actual thoughts, and having real conversations. That’s a much more engaging set of activities, and so my guess is I’ll end up spending more of social-network energy on Google+.

Incidentally, if you want to follow me on Google+, you can do so here.


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