At the South by Southwest Interactive conference, Guy Kawasaki interviewed Vic Gundotra from Google+ on his thoughts on the product and where he sees it going.
“What do you say to people when people say Google+ is a ghost town?” Kawasaki asked Gundotra.
Gundotra seriously and calmly answered, “I tell them that they are not using it right.” He said that many people don’t know how to use the circles. “If you want responses, make sure that your comment is on public. Use private if you want a private conversation with a family member or close friend.”
Gundotra said that Google’s goal is to make things relevant to you. “When you go to a ballgame,” he said, “you don’t want to see ads, you want to watch the game. That’s our goal at Google+ to bring relevant information to you.”
He mentioned that Google+ closely tracks user behavior, which makes the social site a powerful tool.
The most interesting question asked was why Google+ doesn’t have an API (meaning, why doesn’t Google+ interact with Hootsuite, Ping, or any other aggregator to push content). Gundotra said that it is important that they work out all the kinks first. “If we open up the API, I feel it will pollute our site,” he said.
“How real are real-time posts?” asked Kawasaki.
“They are in real-time for most people except for those with celebrity status,” said Gundotra. He went on to say that with the time that will be corrected. He also mentioned that Google didn’t think that people like Guy Kawasaki would have more than a million followers so quickly.
He talked about spam and how Google+ is marking spam users. “We use the same team that we use for Gmail,” he said, “and they know what they are doing.”
After several minutes of Kawasaki asking Gundotra a series of questions, Kawasaki opened up questions to the audience.
A slew of questions was asked from why Google+ doesn’t acknowledge pseudonyms to how does Google+ absorbs the cost of the hangouts, which are very expensive.
When the hangout question was asked, I wondered if it was a Google employee asking it. Gundotra said that it was a community service. He said he acknowledged that hangouts are expensive, but when he heard a story of a young person who had MS and couldn’t get outside and a photographer took the computer and showed him some outdoor scenes, it moved him so much and that’s why they do it. “We want to enhance the user experience,” he said.
With every question Kawasaki asked, Gundotra answered in a passionate voice pointing his finger at Kawasaki. Toward the end of the interview, I wondered if Kawasaki would bite his finger off.