So here’s what I was thinking about as I was thinking about how Google’s +1 might be implemented on various web pages: What’s the incentive for people to click on it? What +1 does is signal to Google that you think this page is a good one and that will then influence what the people you’ve connected with on Google services (Gmail, Reader, Talk and such) will see when they perform a web search.
Every other button on sites is about showing off who you are. We can share things on Twitter or Facebook because it’s something we want to curate and share with our friends. We can save a link on Delicious so we can read it later. But there’s no personal and immediate benefit to +1 and certainly not one that taps into the same egotism that many of the others are meant to. Instead it’s about helping others, and in a delayed manner at that since the people we know might not run a related search for months.
I bring this up as an introduction to my latest Voce Nation post, which points out how there seems to be a shift in publishing problems toward only allowing for positive reinforcement by the audience, a shift that has a lot of potential problems for both publishers and readers.