2018-08-06 No Google Plus

I was talking to @BenKramer about Google+ and I started wondering. I haven’t been truly active on Google+ for quite a while. Sure, I sometimes still look at my home stream, but these days I check Mastodon obsessively, not Google+. Why is that?

On Google+ I had 2239 followers and I was part of 26 communities! It was wonderful, for a while. But perhaps here’s a first indication of why I don’t like it any more. I tried to figure out how many people I was following and I didn’t know where to look. On my profile? Only the number of followers are listed. People? Only the “Following” circle is listed (ten people, they’re all here by mistake, I’m sure). Circle Streams? Nope. Argh, fuck it!

So, here’s reason number one: the user interface is not great. And this goes for many things. Popular wisdom has it that you need to put all the people you are following into a circle and read the circle stream in order to avoid timeline reordering, suggested pages, people you might be interested in, and missed posts. And the event invitations! All of this is terrible! I am reminded of @dredmorbius’s The Tyranny of the Minimum Viable User.

The very next reason is, of course, surveillance capitalism. Why should Google know so much about me? In order to make money, of course. This relies on the fact that I look at their ads. Which is why they don’t like ad blocking. Which is why they cannot allow any clients that circumvent their ads and their tracking. At least that’s my explanation for the eternal beta and no open API and all that. Also, whenever I tried to use a Google product as a developer, it was always so damn complex. The result of all that is that nobody is allowed to write a better Google+ client.

Meanwhile, look at me over here on Mastodon. I like the Web UI, it looks like Tweet Deck, but better. Oh, and Amaroq on my phone. Other people use other clients. There’s somebody who wrote an alternative web client called Brutaldon which is so simple it can be used with lynx, the text browser.

And here’s something else. Over time I got the sinking feeling that too many of the people I liked reading disappeared. They no longer write about the games themselves. There’s a lot of shilling of products, theirs or their friends’, Kickstarter announcements, conference pictures, pictures of old books bought, unpacking videos of new things bought, a lot of hype everywhere. At the same time, I was unhappy. I hardly ever used the products I bought. I didn’t use them at the table, and some might think that doesn’t matter as long as I enjoyed reading them, but I don’t. Material for role-playing games does not excite me as a literary genre. I don’t read rules, settings or adventures for fun. In other words, I’d rather read a book, or a blog, or – more likely – social media. I wanted to reduce the power of consumerism in my life. Remember the screenshots of They Live? I started to see every post as a message: “Consume!” I didn’t like it. I was disappointed.

And so things came together: I was given a tool that degraded over time, and I was unable to fix it, and I knew nobody else was allowed to fix it, and the reason for joining Google+ – role-playing games – was slowly being poisoned by capitalism, and over there was a new thing that promised to be different in every respect.

I joined Mastodon, and instead of emphasizing role-playing games, I created a main account to talk about everything except role-playing games, and a separate account for just role-playing games. And it turns out that not many people talk about role-playing games.

Perhaps all I cared to say about role-playing games has been said. I don’t post much about role-playing games on this blog. I just continue running my games and writing my little web apps, and updating the campaign wiki, and expanding my Halberds and Helmets house rules document.

I guess I just don’t miss Google+.

33 weeks ago, I posted on Google+: “You might find me posting a whole lot more on Mastodon these days. The account linked below is my account for anything that’s not RPG.” → @kensanata (with replies)

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Here is something interesting from Wikipedia: “Tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読) is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them. […] It combines elements of 「積んでおく」 tsunde-oku (to pile things up ready for later and leave) and 「読書」 dokusho (reading books).”

– Alex Schroeder 2018-08-08 05:37 UTC


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