Work circles get more interesting. You could have everyone in your company in a circle; your workgroup in another, the guys you’re plotting to take over the company with another… oh did I say that? Or, you can have work circles of business partners, press who cover your company, or customers. I can see this working in other ways. Perhaps a customer support circle in addition to your other customer support forums? Last, but not least, you can set up circles by interests. At the moment, Google+ circles aren’t ideal for interest circles. For example, if you were to follow me in a dog-lovers circle, I might only mention pups once every other day or two. It’s my understanding though that Google intends on making it easier to post by topics. I certainly hope they do.
Katherine Morrison made her circles public, and asked people to tell her what circles to join and what circles people would like to leave. "As some of you may know from facebook, I tend to be rather free with the “share” button. In order to avoid overhwelming people with posts not relevant to a particular reader, I’ve organized my circles (mostly) based on interest rather than by relationship."
Here's my thinking on grouping things. I don't like to be that organized personally. I don't file stuff away very well. I never liked folders in outlook. I use a few labels in gmail (about 20) but I label less than one out of every 100 emails I get. I've created two twitter lists (one automatically). I follow two twitter lists. I belong to one or two google groups. I belong to less than ten Facebook groups. I am sure that there are many people out there who are different, who love to organize, file, group, and structure their lives and work. But I'm not one of them.
So when faced with the chore of taking all my friends and colleagues and dropping them in buckets (or circles as it were), I tired of that chore quickly. I stopped at about 20 people. And I am not eager to go back. It is not fun. It is work.
instead of all harrowing connecting and reconnecting, you could cut ties, hide in corners and keep yourself to yourself, without offending a single person? That's the idea behind Google+, the perfect anti-social network.
Google Plus has a different privacy/sharing model than other social networks. Different from Facebook's confirmed tie model that they have been gradually breaking with ever more granular complexity.
Different from Twitter & SlideShare's model of Asymmetric Follow, where people can follow/subscribe to posts that are public. Google+ is Asymmetric Sharing, where you selectively choose to share, but to make it into the main stream of view, someone nees to choose to share back. I give it high marks on privacy, but it inherently comes at a cost for complexity, virality, discovery and retaining social context.
When it comes to representing relationships online, there are two big questions: 1. Our offline relationships are very complex. Should we try and replicate the attributes and structure of those relationships online, or will online communication need to be different? 2. If we do try and replicate the attributes of our relationships, will people take the time and effort to build and curate relationships online, or will they fall back to offline interactions to deal with the nuances?
We’re only at the beginning of trying to answer these questions. Google+ is a well designed product, but it is not “the solution” to the problem of representing complex relationships online. In fact, there probably isn’t “one solution”.
Recently added sprites (see images below) include a question mark, icons for dining, movies, map pushpins, star ratings, emoticons and more. One of those icons (see bottom), which looks like two little people, could be involved in some kind of social search feature, Rohrweck guesses. He also found an icon with a chess symbol on it, backing up his earlier discovery where a product called "Google+ Games" was referenced by name.
However, the most intriguing find had to do with four icons, all whose names begin "shared_circle." This seems to imply that Google+ will allow you to create Circles containing other Google+ users, and share those with others.
There is an independent app which has come out for Facebook which can let you add your friends in ‘Circles’ just like Google+ does. However, it’s limited to nothing more than adding. You can add people to different circles but can’t play around with individuals once they are added. The app is Circles Hack.
Given the level of control that Google+ is offering, I should be thrilled with this great new tool. But I’m not.
It solves the wrong problem, particularly with Google Circles, the Google+ feature that lets you share different things with different groups of people. And it doesn’t do anything to solve the biggest problem with social networks today: increasing the signal to noise ratio.
I could segment the content within Google+. But that requires a lot more thinking than just going to Twitter for business stuff or Facebook for personal stuff.
For people who care about the segmentation that Google+ offers, they are already doing it using different networks.
Platforms like Quora, Namesake and the disqus blog network enable me to reach wider audiences. Google+ doesn’t aggregate audiences for me around topics.
The biggest unsolved problem in social networking remains unsolved with Google+: separating signal from noise. Twitter, it seems, doesn’t even want to try. Separating signal from noise and ranking disparate pieces of content is a problem that is squarely in Google’s wheelhouse.
The entire experience is built around its equivalent to Facebook lists: Circles. From the very beginning you have to choose who will be in what circle, and every time you add a friend it automatically pops up your list of circles with little to no effort. To "friend" someone, you don't friend them - you add them to one of your lists. It's that simple.
Google+ take more of a Twitter approach, allowing anyone to "follow" anyone, no matter what. In a sense, this puts Google Circles at a greater risk to putting Twitter out of business, as it takes the Twitter follow model and lists, and adds privacy settings to it, using those lists to make that happen. I bet we'll see Twitter do this in the near future as a response to Google Circles.
The biggest thing Google did right this time around is they did what no other social network was doing. They took privacy, and put it smack in the face of the user to make their own conscious decisions.
Facebook Friend Lists lets users group friends under different lists; family, co-workers, etc., so that you can share things with subsets of your overall Facebook friends. As in real life, you don’t share everything with all the people you know, and with the Friend Lists feature you can emulate that. Sounds very similar to Circles right?
The problem with Friend Lists is the poor usability of this feature. Unlike Circles, you get the feeling that this feature was tacked on, and that it’s not a central component of the service. Creating and assigning people to Circles in Google+ is a lot easier and friendlier than managing Friend Lists, just look at this video from Google which gives you a good overview of how the Google interface handles this.
As people, we differentiate our relationships. The lack of modeling the nuance in relationships is what's made services like Twitter an increasing failure as a social network as it's become more popular.
Even Facebook isn't immune to this. Sure, there are lists, but does anyone believe that addresses this problem in a meaningful way?
That's why I'm enthused about Google Plus and its model of social circles. My biggest fear? That people who are joining Google Plus will ignore this chance to categorize your "friends" based on your actual relationship with them and just drag and dump everyone into their friends circle, thereby negating this powerful capability.
With many asserting that Google+ is heavily Facebook influenced, Facebook Engineer Vladimir Kolesnikov has flipped the switch and taken inspiration from the novel Google Circles design with Circlehack, a much simpler tool to build Facebook Friend lists.
Because the idea of circles Google + is probably one of the best ideas landed on a social network for months, I offer on this beautiful day (though a little cool, no need to hide it) 21 views circles that you will be able to inject yourself in your profile.
Google + is unlike anything else out there on the market. It is an information/media streaming powerhouse. It is a system that thrives on the idea of interaction. It is a social network that takes what we know of social networks and throws it out the window. It is what what most of us have been waiting for.
Google+ appears to be re-writing the rules when it comes to social media, you can’t treat it like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or 500px. While there is a learning curve at first, it is built on the simple idea of three core concepts. - Search - Social Interaction - Control Google+ got its name because Google wanted it to become an extension of Google itself.
Why Grouping Sucks When I first started using Google+, I had a sense of déjà vu as I categorized my friends. I’d done this before… on Flickr, on Facebook, on Twitter, on my instant messenger contact list, and in my address book. Shortly thereafter, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the effort to rigorously group everyone. Then I started thinking about whether it was ever worth the effort to do so.
We need to understand that a Google+ Circle has two main functions, sharing and streaming:
Sharing (output): This is content that you publish. Depending on your real-life relationship with your contacts, the information you share will not be the same for your different social circles. At the same time, your social circles may overlap. This means one person may be a part of two different circles at the same time.
Streaming (input): This is content that your contacts stream to your Google+ homepage. Streaming is different from sharing in the sense that streams depend more on your interests rather than your relationships.
Hence, to achieve more control over your circles, I believe it is necessary to divide them between sharing and streaming.
A group of Facebook engineers have made a new application, called "Circle Hack," which allows Facebook users to organize their friends in the same way Google+ users can create Circles.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about how Google ripped off some of Facebook’s features with its new social network, Google+. But it seems the biting goes both ways. Now, a group of four Facebook engineers have launched an unofficial Facebook app called “Circle Hack,” which allows users to organize their friends into lists in a near-identical fashion to the “Circles” tool in Plus — one of our favorite features.
Despite a positive early reception to the service, the big challenge for Google+ isn’t pleasing users in its first few days, it’s finding a solid place for it in their lives in the long term. What will that place be? At present, it’s difficult to say. Looking at the currently big social networks, they fit into a few core categories:
- Sharing and communicating with friends: Facebook, Hyves, Orkut etc. - Sharing quick thoughts, news and opinions: Twitter - Business-focused networking: LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo etc.
So where does Google+ fit into this? It manages to sit across all these verticals. The big question is, can Google convince a groundswell of people to make the switch from their existing social networks?
Google got to get it right this time (and frankly I think they nailed some of the subtleties that they didn’t in their past avatars). That said, there’s just something about Google+ that doesn’t seem right and — that’s got to do with its relationship model.
Google Plus is a curious amalgam of Facebook and Twitter but more interestingly this is the same model that Friendfeed pioneered (with far slicker tools: “like” and “real-time feed” anyone).
There’s an incentive to build your REAL social network (a la Facebook) that Google+ is trying to foster with Circles, but at the same time they pollute that atmosphere with the follower model, where people you don’t know jump in with comments that you don’t feel like responding to.
That was the problem Friendfeed faced and that’ll be the problem that Google+ will inevitably encounter.
Now, granted the asymmetric model gains traction and followers fast, the question remains: is it sustainable? Time will tell.
Facebook is fundamentally built around one-to-one friending. The Twitter model is that one user publicly follows another. Google+ is a lot more complicated than any of these.
While using the snazzy animated Circle-creation tool may come more naturally to others (early adopters seem to be mad with love for Google+), I think this is likely to be a stumbling block for many people. Perhaps digital relationships won’t be naturally nuanced and eroded over time like real-world relationships, because digital things just don’t do that. They exist, or they do not.
And it may just be that privacy is incredibly difficult to illustrate and conceptualize. But lots of things seem hard at the start; maybe we as humans will teach ourselves to understand this stuff better over time.
The future of "Social Networks" aren't social networks at all. The fact is, social networks will "be like air" in the future. They will be integrated into everyday "circles" that you participate in.
As social networks are able to communicate better and better with each other, and more and more standards are built to federate the different circles you participate in, you won't go to Facebook.com or Google+ or Twitter. You'll go to the brands and the areas you're most familiar with and your friends and family will "just be there". Those are where your real "circles" are.
The fact is no social network is going to be a "Facebook killer" or "Twitter killer" or even "Myspace killer" (remember the stat I shared above?). If anything kills any of these it will be branded experiences that make it easier for you to communicate in the environments you're most comfortable with. In the end, it's about where your audience is, who you want to communicate with, and the best places to do that.
There are now over 3,000 people in a circle I've dubbed "work friends." That may be nothing compared to the likes of Robert Scoble, but at the current rate of friending occurring on Google's new social network, I'm well on my way to seeing friend counts that rival Twitter, a network where I'm hovering around 12,000 followers. And this is during Google Plus' private trial period!
The beauty of Google's Circles is that it does allow for this sort of public relationship with people in your industry - in my case, fellow tech enthusiasts. But at some point, I'm concerned the "put people into boxes" model may break down. Relationships aren't binary (friend or not), but they're also not static (e.g. "Friend A in Circle X"). Relationships change. How will Circles adapt to change with them?
In a recent blog post (language), Florian Rohrweck uncovered some new images hinting at the possibility of sharable Circles to others you want to share to in Google+. Such functionality would be comparable to Twitter Lists, which anyone can subscribe to.
Looking at the image names, each one starts with "shared_circle", providing open, closed, and highlighted versions of each, and an icon representing the circles. It would seem that Google+ is readying a way to let you share certain circles of yours that anyone can subscribe to and view. This would completely replace just about every feature Twitter has of benefit (other than perhaps the 140 character limit and SMS interface if you call those benefits) - it will be interesting to see what happens as more and more Twitter users get Google+ accounts.