David Frum

12.07.12

How Google Killed Off Its Best Social Network

Buzzfeed has a wonderful longform read on the story of Google Reader, the former service many blog readers will know all too well.

In the year since, Google+ has been derided as a “virtual ghost town,” and a “complete failure” unpopular even with Google employees. All of which has heightened the resentment shared by Reader fanatics. Today, they are a population dispossessed. Many have disappeared off the grid, while others struggle to rebuild communities that were, with a few keystrokes, deleted. All of them — the dental student in San Antonio, the academic librarian in Boston, the game developer in San Francisco — yearn for the scroll-tracked Shangri-La that was.

They wonder why Google deep-sixed superlative features, years in the making, for an upstart social network, a Facebook clone. In the year past, the same question has been framed and phrased in a thousand different ways — why force an unproven social network on users at the expense of an organic one?

Or, to put it more bluntly, why pave over paradise to put up a parking lot?