Monday, July 11, 2011

Gay capitalism, part II

As you've seen on these pages before, I have been all-too-happy to champion the acknowledgement of gay marriage in New York State.

This weekend, we ran two stories talking about gay marriage in Niagara County. One dealing with its effect in Niagara Falls and one dealing with its effect outside of the Cataract City.

It appears from those stories that the new nuptials will provide somewhat of an economic boon on the west end of Niagara County, while having little-to-no effect in the rest of the county.

I was happy to see city leaders in Niagara Falls push to make the most out of the new possibilities, something I advocated for in a previous column. There is money to be had here.

The thought of a mass gay marriage in the Falls gives me warm fuzzies. It's always nice to see your point of view validated.

The second story that ran, however, noted that not only is gay marriage not a big deal in the rest of the county, there are at least two businesses that say they will chose to not cater to gay couples in the businesses.
While I find this disappointing, after much reflection, I actually don't have a problem with it.

I'd like to make a disclaimer here that both of the business owners are people I know … and consider friends. But I think I'd feel the same no matter who they were.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think they're decisions are wrong. But they're their decisions to make, even though they're breaking the law.

I've said 1,000 times that I'm more interested in what's right than what's legal. And I have my own code of ethics. Frankly, there are a lot of bad laws out there. And although I don't think the acknowledgement of gay marriage is one of them, I can appreciate those who stand by their convictions in their belief that it is.

There are higher powers to answer to than the state of New York. And if some people feel those higher powers would want them to discriminate against gay couples then so be it.

Personally, I have more respect for someone who disagrees with me out of principle than someone who agrees with me and doesn't know why.

There will be some who will want to challenge non-compliant business owners in court. I, personally, think that's silly. Why would anyone want to give money to a place they're not wanted.

I have – from time to time – been known to make a few enemies. There are certain business owners, for example, that have made it all to clear to me that they'd prefer I stop talking altogether.

Well, considering money talks, I don't say a word to those businesses. I prefer to spend my money at places that more readily accept it. And that's exactly what gay couples will do.

The free market will take care of itself, allowing like-minded people to do business together. Nobody has to do business with someone they find distasteful and everyone thrives.

As I've said before, I don't think the state should be in the business of deciding who can get married. But I think it's perfectly acceptable for business owners to decide whose money they want to take.

Funny thing about that money, though. It's kind of the great equalizer. Most people will take anyone's.  

Some thoughts on Google+ (plus)

I tend to put great faith in Google. First of all, their motto is so simple; "Don't be evil." More people should have that motto. I can think of a couple in particular, but we won't go there today.

I use gMail, Google Voice, Chrome, Google maps, Google calendar, Google reader, Google Talk, Google Sync, YouTube, Picasa ... heck, I host my blog on Blogger - a Google property. So the thought of Google doing social media is somewhat arousing. But Google+ is not their first effort. Heck, it's not even their second. The last attempt at social media - Buzz - was pretty bad. Yes, Buzz will pick up this blog post ... and all my others ... but I never see any action there. It's pretty useless.

Google+, however, has a certain degree of promise. Google+ is more than a "new social media site." It's a new way of doing social media, taking everything Google already does and tweaking it with a social aspect. Most notable for me is their rolling of Picasa into the Google+ realm. I've used Picasa for years and almost all of my photos are there. And those that aren't there, I'm in the process of porting them over.

Side note on photos: Going through and tagging and uploading photos can bring back a lot of memories. It can be a roller coaster experience.

I like some of the ways Google+ is Facebooky. I like the photos and the status updates. I like the commenting. And the ability to share posts. I LOVE the ways it's NOT Facebooky: No Mafia Wars. No Farmville.

Facebook, of course, if king of social media. Everyone's there. I'm hoping that everyone gets to Google+, because as cool as Google+ is, if the rest of the world isn't there, it won't last.

It would seem to me as though Google is trying to do a few things with G+. They're trying to catalog the internet, something Facebook has been doing for the past couple years. And they're trying to reinvent your ID. They want it to be your email address .... or more to the point, your gMail address.

Scenario: You go to a party and meet someone. They tell you their name. You go home and look them up on Facebook by their name. I get the feeling that Google wants your gMail address to be your new universal identity. I'm not Scott Leffler. I'm "scott dot leffler at gmail dot com." Guess it's better than being a number. It's hardly coincidental that you pretty much need a gMail address to use any Google product.

The advent of Circles is pretty neat. I like the fact that I can post things aimed at certain people or groups of people. Maybe I want my friends to know that I had a bender ... but don't want work to know. Maybe I want my music friends to read a review on a local band, but I know my social media friends won't care.

I also love the fact that you can direct a post at only one person. And it will only be seen by that one person. Just type @ and then their name. As long as you don't share it with any of your circles or publicly, it'll just go to that person. And you can comment back and forth.

I like the "hangout" concept - which allows you to video chat with 10 people simultaneously. I haven't used it. But I like the possibility. For some reason video chat really hasn't caught on. I consider myself to be somewhat pioneering and I've only done video chat a handful of times. We'll see if that changes.

The biggest problems I see with Google+ is the lack of people there currently (although the people I thought would migrate there first have done so), and the lack of other things working with it. Examples would include FourSquare and GetGlue. I imagine that will change soon, although Google has "places," which is kind of a FourSquare competitor, so maybe they won't play nice, although, I doubt it. After all, *Google's motto* ...

The other issue I have is their failure to have a BlackBerry app up and running. I've noticed Google is slow to adapt to the BlackBerry, one of the primary reasons I never really bought into Buzz. This won't be an issue for me long, as I've decided to upgrade to an Android phone when I get the chance.

You can find me on Google+ by clicking here ... Be sure you add me to your "cool people" circle and not the "people my mom warned me about" circle.

Of course, I'm still on Facebook and Twitter ... for now.