Google Bulletin - okay so what is it?

I've been brooding on this topic to write about for a while.  I had heard about it briefly, signed up for beta access and then forgot about it.

Then I got access and I am somewhat even more confused than ever.

Throw in that since then they'd announced the closure of Google+ and I thought I'd give it a try again.

Bulletin, from Google

So what is it... is it a social media page, is it blogging ... I'm not really sure and I've been testing it out.

First up, what is it ... coming straight from their own video on the site:

Bulletin is a tool for publishing local stories straight to the web, with just your phone.
What’s special about a story on Bulletin? A Bulletin story is...
  • Impactful: Bulletin helps you tell the stories that aren’t being told
  • Open: Bulletin stories are public and easy to discover: on Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps
  • Effortless: No setup is required to create a story - all you need is a smartphone
With Bulletin you can contribute to local stories and be the voice of your community!

But really... what is it?  How do you use it?

Essentially it's accessible via the web (there's no 'app') and it's only available via your phone.  Trying to access the link on a desktop doesn't lead you anywhere.

Go to it on your phone and then you can 'create a shortcut'.  That will set an icon on your homescreen.

But then what?  Well, you can 'start a story' and the vision here is that you're doing something that's not just meaningful to you and locally, but a 'hyper local', i.e. something that's about what's going on nearby.

Okay, let's start a story, it's meant to be visual - so take a snap or video.  Thankfully they released the option to pick from your gallery as for some reason taking a photo from within the 'app' within your browser the quality was absolutely TERRIBLE.  So go take a photo from the camera app then go to the Bulletin 'app'.

Give the story a title... now is that a title for the story or for that image?

It's unclear because the next screen you give your story a title and location and its tags (you can't tag your own it'll come up with the pre-suggested ... if yours doesn't fit, too bad).

Now the story's created and then you can add more photos or more description.

But then what... how are people finding it?  I'm guessing if they have Bulletin they can see it, or maybe it shows up specifically during a Google search, but I cannot see anything in my search results.

In your story you can hit the 'share' button and then from there share a direct link to that story (i.e. - otherwise, I can't find out how to get anyone else to ever see this story I just posted.

The only thing is that the 'spotlight' doesn't really show anything nearby me... maybe I need to be in Oakland or Jersey ... maybe there's just nothing around my area.

I get that it's new (but it's not really, it's been around for a year now) and maybe in my area, we have nobody checking it out.    Do we need a critical mass number?

But no matter how I try to look, I can't see how these stories are getting propagated out to the general public.

Is it just shouting into the void?  Isn't that what Twitter is?  How is this really different than Facebook?

Do you have to create it and then share it out yourself.  It's not super clear.

It looks neat and simple, but do we need ANOTHER type of social posting service?  If Google is giving up on Plus (man, that still is gut-shotting me... ugh) how do they think that another crowdsourced, hyper-local news feed is going to work for them?

Youtube lets creators 'post', Maps now lets entities write updates and respond / engage there ... it's a bit of a mess.

C'mon Google!