As far as the big technology companies go, I am probably more a fan of Google than any other company. This admiration reflects how I value their products, but also how I value their way of going about doing business. Just for the record, I do not consider myself a freeloader. I pay for Google services (Google Music and general storage space) and I have purchased severely overpriced products (Chromebook Pixel) just because I wanted a particular development effort to move forward. My point – I do not expect technology companies to provide me services for free and this not the reason I support this company.
Google is obviously changing, some would say maturing, and a possible interpretation might be that they have become more focused. One tactic in implementing a more focused approach has been to cut several services. At least some number of individuals will have been users of these services and this will cause frustration.
Recently, I encountered a campaign to reconsider changes made to PicasaWeb. This service allows Google users to store photos online (a reasonable number at no cost and more storage for a small fee). I had noticed this change in that my efforts to access images I had stored as Picasa folders resulted in redirection to Google+. In my opinion, Google wants to build up Google+ as an alternative to Facebook and is making efforts to position Google+ as a kind of hub for multiple services.
By the way, you can avoid the Google+ redirect, but the work around is not intuitive – https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1
The post (ironically on Google+) was brief, but it seemed to urge those who use PicasaWeb to encourage Google to maintain this service and to maintain it separate from Google+. Those who agreed were urged to + the post. Given the history of Reader, I would not be optimistic. Felix Binsack, the originator of the campaign, does have a point in indicating that he paid for PicasaWeb and I suppose while the time period covered by the payment was limited, you put work into a paid service assuming it will be continued.
I write mostly to inform those interested in the educational uses of technology and I think PicasaWeb has a number of important and useful features.
- I like the connection between software on the desktop and storage in the cloud. Google provides free software you can download (Picasa) and this software can be used to take photos off your camera, organize photos, and upload those you want to store in the cloud and possibly offer to others. You can work entirely in the cloud, but if you work with hundreds of photos at a time, I think this local software is helpful.
- Picasa is cross platform. I like iPhoto as well, but when you write for a broad audience (teachers) it is important to offer tactics they might apply no matter what the hardware provided for their use.
- The desktop software allows flexibility in location of images on the computer. Picasa takes an approach different from iPhoto. You can store your photos where you want on your computer and still work with them using Picasa.
My experience with Google+ had not included a lot of activity using the built in photo tools. I admit after a little exploring I was more impressed. Google+ does allow the organization of photos in folders and allows the sharing of photos with a designated circle (or the general public). The organization, annotation, and sharing of photos are major issues for me when it comes for the educational potential of digital photography.
Here is a brief explanation of how to organize Google+ photos into folders. On the iPad, the process of organization would work something like this. While viewing a photo, select the “gear” icon and then select the “copy to folder” option from the options you are presented.
You will then select an existing folder or be allowed to create a new folder.
The process from a computer works a little differently. With a photo selected, you should have access to a “More” menu and you select “add to a folder”.
Clearly, creating folders and adding images to folders can be accomplished within Google+. I will also accept that the batch processes available from Picasa would make the process of organization more efficient.