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My first thought on @ginatrapani passing 1 million followers is that Google+ is Siphoning the Blogosphere.

Stashed in: Hot Chicks, The Web, Best PandaWhale Posts, Google+, Blogs!, @scobleizer, PandaWhale Mentions, @kevinrose, History of Tech!

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Gina Trapani is not famous famous, but she has an outsized audience thanks to her being an early influential (and particularly awesome!) blogger. I've been a huge fan of her writings on the Web for years.

I had no idea why Google+ exists (the social destination, not the spine) until I saw Gina's post today.

Google+ has delivered to Gina what Facebook and Twitter could not: one million followers.

I've heard similar sentiments from other Internet famous people such as Scoble and Kevin Rose.

MySpace Tom even pointed out that Kevin Rose killed his blog in favor of Google+ so he could have more engagement.

Now it all makes sense. Google+ wants to replace not Facebook or Twitter, but rather large swathes of the Blogosphere.

Google's strategy for doing that is to offer highly influential bloggers -- people like Gina Trapani, Kevin Rose, and Scoble -- a huge audience through what Anil Dash calls the Suggested User List.

This makes me sad for the future of the Web.

In the last decade the Blogosphere has been a great bastion of the open public Web. Anyone could publish anything for anyone in the world to see anonymously, and the Blogosphere is largely responsible for why when we do Web searches we see more results than just Wikipedia pages and commercial websites.

Over the last decade, the Blogosphere -- and with it, the open public Web -- has seen its content get increasingly siphoned off, with content creators spending ever-more time putting good content behind walled gardens and paywalls and Twitter.

It feels like the open, public Web has been shrinking ever since Facebook and Twitter rose to prominence. And now it feels like Google+ is adding to that trend.

Are Google+ posts on the open public Web? Not really: I cannot read the articles without being logged in to Google, and the URLs are not human-readable. And are they searchable anonymously? Kind of, though you wouldn't believe how hard it was for me to search for the Kevin Rose post about killing his blog. I essentially had to find a link to it from a blog on the open public Web.

By giving prominent bloggers massive audience, Google is making the Blogosphere -- and hence the public Web -- shrink.

Look how many fewer posts there are on Gina's blog than on Gina's Google+.

Following Gina used to be simple: I could visit her blog and see her latest words. But now, she's in so many places, it's impossible to follow her. And don't tell me that Twitter is the one ring to bind them all, or I would have missed this gem from her on Facebook.

So if I wanted to follow the "best of Gina" I have no choice but to hire a curator to follow all her stuff and offer me a rollup. I'm endeavoring to curate a @ginatrapani stash of goodies myself so that others can benefit from the best Gina things I've found. But I'm just one person on a vast, fragmented, increasingly noisy Web.

So I celebrate Gina reaching 1 million followers with a sense of unease that the Web is further fragmenting into more places that are not part of the open, public Web. The open public Web is the part that's searchable and lurkable anonymously, with human-readable URLs. You know, what the blogosphere and Wikipedia provide.

Right now, Google+ is the only destination of Google's social Web.

One day Google+ could become a valuable part of the open public Web. I hope they do.

I do think of PandaWhale as being part of the open public Web:

  1. You can read this article any time, on any device, anonymously.

  2. This article is openly available to Google, Bing, and any other search engine.

  3. The URL for this article is short and human-readable:

  4. You can share this article by email, instant message, text message, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, etc. -- and anyone can click the link and read it anonymously.

Yes, we do require people to login to post comments, give props, and save this article into a stash.

But we don't make you create a PandaWhale account to do so.

You can login though any of several OAuth providers, and we'll provide more as soon as we have the time to implement them.

Love it!

Kevin Kelly discusses how he got 500k Google+ followers through similar means as Gina:

He has determined that most of these followers are "ciphers" -- fake accounts. Some are spam bots, but most do nothing.

What if bloggers are being lured to participate in the Google+ social destination with the promise of a large audience, but that audience is in fact mostly ciphers?

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