Sometimes, while wandering about the Web searching for brightly colored espadrilles, one comes across a headline that stops one dead.
The other day, for me at least, it was: "Is Google+ a sausage party? Google says no way."
When someone says "no way" my skeptical nature springs like a daffodil. So I asked a Google representative whether, indeed, the new social network was something of a men-only affair. I received this reply: "We don't have any specific metrics to share publicly right now. As you know, we're still in a very limited Field Trial and the goal of the Field Trial is to see how Google+ works outside of Google's walls."
Today, though, is a new day. Outside of Google's walls, I have espied some numbers. They have been released by a company called Find People on Plus. They are based on a sample of 947,996 Google+ users. And they suggest that 73.8 percent of those on Google+ are, yes, men.
There should be no surprise. Or should there?
Yes, the field trial has been limited to the glitterati of the tech world, most of whom are male. However, if you're a tech glitteratus, wouldn't you want to invite as many women as you could? For very good reasons. Yes, the obvious one is to make yourself and your concentric circles look shiny and sexy.
More than that, though, it is surely a staple of Facebookian knowledge that social networking is driven by women. Just two years ago, an analysis of social-networking sites seemed to persuasively show that Digg alone stood as an example of a male-dominated social network. And how's that doing these days?
For Google+ to make a significant incision into the populace it has to feel like-- to a woman's eyes--the right place to be. So wouldn't you, if you were a Google engineer, be inviting as many women as you possibly could as early as you could?
I use the word engineer with statistical significance, as it is the No. 1 profession currently on Google+. Almost 25 percent of Google+ participants are engineers. Another 10.05 percent are software engineers. Another 13.57 percent are developers.
But this doesn't include Web developers (4.23 percent) or software developers (3.67 percent).
Treading as carefully as one can into the unknown, might it be that all these techie people have invited a plethora of women, many of whom have declined? After all, rumor has it that invitations are now aplenty.
Perhaps not everyone at Google has seen "The Social Network," but wasn't one of the main driving forces behind Facebook's touching rise to notoriety the fact that boys are desperately looking (at and) for girls?
So I scrolled down these statistics to see whether there was anything about, you know, love. I was not to be disappointed. At least until I read the actual numbers.
94.09 percent of those who are officially "looking" for love on Google+ claim to be--drum rumble--men.
I know there will be many social scientists who will dive into these numbers and offer their serene conclusions. I know they will ruminate hard about one statistic: of these 947,996 people, 842,830 claim not to be on Facebook. Which seems most odd.
However, it's the ad people at Google who will be ruminating most. They will want to be sure that as many women join as quickly as possible in order to turn Google+ into a highly viable social network.
Google's representative did tell me that the goal of this trial phase was to make the product better: "We plan to gather user feedback and work quickly to fix bugs in order to improve the product before it launches publicly."
Perhaps naively, I asked whether the company had enjoyed more feedback from men or from women.
"We're not disclosing this information," the representative replied.