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Q&A: Mark Cuban Tells Why He Likes Google+
Tech investor, HDNet chairman, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gives his take on Google's new social network.
In the month since Google launched Google+, the newborn social network has been a hot topic of conversation. In fact, your G+ stream might feel rather meta; users are taking to Google+ to talk about, you guessed it, Google+.
The company's CEO Larry Page said last week in an earnings call that 10 million people have already set up profiles on G+. Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen estimates that number is closer to 18 million as of Wednesday. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and chairman of HDNet, is one of these early adopters.
Cuban has maintained a lively presence on social media, with active profiles on both Twitter and Facebook. He also frequently writes about a variety of topics including tech, sports, entertainment, and media on his blog, Blog Maverick. The early adopter and tech investor gave PCMag some of his thoughts on Google+.
What do you think sets Google+ apart from other social networks?
Cuban: The first thing is that the tech community is driving adoption rather than college kids. That creates an entirely different originating culture. The same community drove Twitter. With techies as a starting point, [Google+] will get more responsive users that will help Google evolve the platform very quickly to where users want it to be. The second thing is that there is no concept of "friends." Google+ allows you to create Circles that match how you relate to people, whether personally, or professionally, or somewhere in between. I think that gives it an advantage, particularly as it relates to privacy. There are things you can show and tell your family, that you won't show and tell your friends, etc, etc. While Facebook does groups, the + implementation is systemic rather than an add-on. That's not to say it's perfect. Because it's primarily tech-driven the volume of information is enormous. When you combine tech-savvy folks with unlimited text/graphics/video, the noise levels expand to meet the available bandwidth. There are ways to reduce it, but you tend to feel like you are missing something!
How are you using Google+ differently from other social networks you use like Facebook and Twitter?
Cuban: I would say it's almost more a mashup of Quora/Twitter/Facebook/Blogger than anything. Right now there is some broadcasting a la Twitter. There is a growing amount of close circling like Facebook and a bunch of "let me answer the questions I know you have" type techie blogging that you might find on Quora or a tech blog. It will be interesting over time to see how people use Circles to filter the streams and what percentage of content that is broadcast to the public will actually be seen.
What makes someone worthy of following on Google+? Are these qualities different for G+ than other social networks?
Cuban: The thing about + is that you can follow anyone and everyone as long as you know enough about them to put them in the right circle. The problem with Twitter is that if you follow too many people you can never see everything in your timeline and you miss a bunch. In +, you have the same problem in your public stream, but if you are diligent about checking the stream of specific circles, you can reduce the streams enough to make them manageable. So for instance, I have a circle for tech media, another for NBA, another for each of my companies, another for what I call Tech Powerlist. Each has its own stream of posts. The real question is which circles get checked and how often.
What do you think Google needs to do to make Google+ successful in the long run?
Cuban: I think it needs "skins." People need to be able to have an interface they feel comfortable with. An interface for a networking platform for business associates may need a different presentation than one you want to use to interface with friends and family. I think it needs keyword filters in the event there is something important to you that appears across Circles. I would say there is a need for keyword clouds. You know the clouds where the more mentions of a word, the bigger and bolder the font in the cloud? This will allow you to see if there are topics/words/phrases that are becoming important occurring over a selected time period. I'm a big believer of the concept that online "if the news is important it will find me." Plus is at risk of having too much information that is separated in each Circle so that the impact or importance of the news may be lost if you don't happen to check all Circles. And because there is no limit on the number of characters, it's far more difficult to scan than Twitter is (which is why I don't think Twitter [will go] away).
Are you enjoying using G+? You appear to be a pretty active user. What do you like (or dislike) about it?
Cuban: I like it. It's simple. It's more techie-driven so you don't ever have to dumb anything down. Early users are very experimental so it's fun to learn new applications and approaches. But it has not replaced my use of Facebook or Twitter. I think Facebook is kind of like the big birthday party where all friends from all cliques and also work show up [and] don't really know one another, but are nice to each other. Twitter is a broadcast medium that is the new PR Newswire. You use it less to communicate with friends than to broadcast to the world what is on your mind, knowing that if the tweet has legs it will get picked up for retweeting and for transmogrification to other mediums (I always wanted to use transmogrification in a sentence).
That said, do we really need another social network?
Cuban: Yep. Competition makes them all better.