Saturday, July 09, 2011

Google+ Circles: agonizingly close

My son's baseball team has lost every game they've played this year. Until today. Barely. It was agonizing to watch them teeter on the edge.

That's how I feel about Google+. It's agonizingly close - especially the "Circles" that define subscribers. They just ... need ... to ... get over the edge.

They could easily go wrong. The default naming of circles is worrying. They're called "friends" and "family" and "acquaintances". That's wrong.

It's not wrong as a starting point, but it's dangerously misleading. They need circles like "politics" and "kids news" and "personal news" and "woodworking" and "professional" and "language" [1]. At least they need two of those in addition to "friends".

Not every friend or family member wants to see pictures of my kids -- but some acquaintances do. Some strongly prefer pictures of the dog. If I shared my political opinions with my friends and family some would stop talking to me. Sharing them with my corporate customers would be even worse. Economists (sorry Brad) rarely want to read my amateur economics.

There's a reason Gordon's Notes appeals to only a few. My readers have to endure all my interests; they don't get to pick and choose.

We need circles that define interests shared between us and our readers, not the happenstance of their relationships to us. Even my beloved Emily doesn't want to read my OS X posts.

We need circles that support the geeky (but right) vision of Yahoo Pipes! and blogger label-specific feeds.  (Think on that one. Adding Boolean logic to circles (kids AND family AND german) is geeky enough, but think what Pipes! did to feeds. Yeah, you don't want to expose that to civilians, but think about it ...)

When Google moves "Google Blogs" (formerly Blogger) into G+, they need to think beyond replacing Blogger's failed Comment infrastructure with Plus comments. They need to think about the connection of Labels to Circles.

Get this right, and G+ replaces LinkedIn and Facebook and Google Reader Shares and unites the worlds of medium-form (Blog) and short-form (Tweet) pub/sub. Get this right and G+ has a Pipes! like option for the infovores (and perhaps for a generation that is born into streams and sub/pub).

Get this wrong and Buzz will have company.

[1] Language is the one attribute that should probably be a filter based on properties of the post and the subscriber. We desperately need Translation for G+, unlike FB it easily transcends nation.


Anthony Lawrence said...

I think a simple

"Exclude these Circles from Public posts" would go a long way toward fixing that.

Kaleberg said...

My main reservation is the requirement for real legal names. I've built up an internet persona over the last 15 or 20 years, but will be unable to use it on Google Plus. My legal name is hardly unique. There must be dozens of me, maybe hundreds, but my internet name is mine.