Home > People > What Do Google Plus/Google+ and Turntable.fm Have In Common?

What Do Google Plus/Google+ and Turntable.fm Have In Common?

A late 20th-century phonograph console and record.

Image via Wikipedia

Have you heard about Google Plus (Google+)? What about Turntable.fm? Both are recent launches that have attracted the early adopters (otherwise known as geeks). I admit that I spend hours daily on both sites, often simultaneously. While Google+ and Turntable.fm may seem unrelated, users are drawn to both Google Plus and Turntable.fm for very similar reasons – they remind us what drew us online in the first place.

Different Animals

Google Plus is Google’s new social network designed to make sharing on the web feel like sharing in real life. 

Since Google already knows a lot about the users with Google accounts, setting up relevant “circles”, or groups of contacts, and getting started is fairly easy. 


Once I got the hang of sharing photos and links and commenting on others’ posts, I noticed Hangouts. What? Press a button and hangout live via web cam with ten people at one time. I noticed Vic GundotraMichael Dell starting these hangouts, and soon I found myself in Hangouts with people I have known for years but have never met in person. Coworkers, friends and others I have met in passing on multiple networks are available real-time, for real conversations, offering an experience that previously did not exist. 

Turntable.fm is an online service labeled as a social music discovery platform. What does this mean? Users are DJ’s and can play songs in “rooms” while chatting. In truth, the real draw of Turntable.fm is not about music at all, but about combining music with real-time chat. Users are welcome to just listen or vie for one of five available DJ spots in each room organized around genres, themes or groups. Each user has an avatar and can win points when others vote on their songs, causing the room to look like a bobbing freak show. Users chat about music, but more often the  conversation moves from music to other areas of interest. It is a collaborative environment where ideas, resources and feedback are shared. In a little over a month, Turntable.fm beta users have helped transform a buggy, yet addictive experience into a reliable, yet still addictive experience.  Independent developers shared Github links to lines of code, built and rebuilt Chrome extensions, and unofficial groups organized to communicate with users when the Turntable.fm is down. Many users compare their Turntable.fm experience to  their experience in Twitter‘s early days and in IRC chats decades ago.

What is driving geeks to Google Plus and Turntable.fm for hours on end? Both are offering users exclusivity, accessibility and real-time connectivity, which is no longer easy to find online. If it feels familiar, it is because many of us felt this way once apon a time.

-Exclusivity
Scarcity creates demand, and amongst geeks this phenomenon is intensified. We love to play with “cool new stuff” first. We covet these opportunities and accept the growing pains of servers crashing (Turntable.fm) and being spammed with email notifications (Google Plus). Turntable.fm turned off new invites altogether. Google+ cleverly included the following language (see blue underline) on the Welcome Page. 

Welcome_to_google

A part of a “small group helping to test Google+”? This is music to any geek’s ears.

– Accessibility: Stakeholders Show Up, Listen & Respond
Seth Goldstein, who leads Turntable.fm is easy to find DJ’ing and chatting with users to garner their feedback. He is as accessible to me as he is to the CEO of a major record label. Vic Gundotra, who is leading the charge at Google Plus, is among dozens of Googlers active on Google+ responding to feedback and answering questions real-time. Vic’s Hangouts fill up instantly with those eager to speak to him face to face via web cam. The feedback is welcomed both formally and informally, and users know their opinions are valued, because developers are implementing changes at a fast clip. Part of the draw to both experiences is discovering new changes each day and feeling as if your participation drove action.

– Real-Time Connectivity
If you feel like it is noisy online and that you cannot be heard, you are not alone. Social networks have become pretty isolating and, even at times, creepy. Many of us who found connectivity on Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook, IRC, etc…are drown out by the crowd and noise as the technology is adopted by those who do not value connectivity. People are tired of shouting, filtering and adjusting settings. Play a song while DJ’ing on Turntable.fm, you are likely to get immediate feedback, both in the form of votes and chat. Post a link to an interesting article or even a photo of the burrito you had for lunch on Google+ and others respond more frequently and faster than on Facebook or Twitter. Both Turntable.fm and Google+ may fall victim to the spam and noise that has lowered response rates on other networks, but for now both offer users real-time connectivity with real people.

In hindsight, the attraction of both Turntable.fm and Google Plus seems obvious. Each offers something that is unavailable elsewhere. The real question remains: Can Turntable.fm and Google Plus scale to become commercially viable while continuing to offer users the same experience? What do you think? I don’t know the answer, but I will stay tuned.

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