Google + Notes: on Circles

So one of my buddies on Google + mentioned this TechCrunch article about the challenges facing Google + in terms of early adopters being all interested in the workings of Google + itself, and that conversation not being interesting to normal people, basically.
And that just heightened my focus on circles, which I’d been thinking about anyway.
If those conversations were kept in circles for those interested, and not put in the public stream, there wouldn’t be that issue. (Of course the article mentioned more aspects than just what people see in the streams, but that’s the part that’s relevant to this post. Great article though!)

But for me, I’m more likely to put those in my public stream, and put personal items in my personal stream – which a public viewer wouldn’t see. But then, a new user to FB today wouldn’t see private content very likely either, only as they get added to friends list would it get interesting.

Then that brings up another thing I’ve thought about Circles. I wish there could be circles of circles. Google + suggests that I have one circle for ‘Friends,’ one for ‘Family;’ yet as far as posting goes, they would both receive personal posts.

Circles defined by relationship don’t match circles defined by content of post — would need 2 sets of circles to accomplish that.

So I could make my circles about post-content (not caring if folks in personal group are friends or family), or could get all database-y about circles, with a content ‘header’ term and then a descriptive term, could at least the ones with similar content will be next to each other.
Like this:
Personal-Friends
Personal-Family
Personal-Work friends

The other thing would be if Google + lets you create post ‘groups’ of circles.. so I could have a posting group called ‘Personal’ which contained Friends and Family. And a posting group called Professional which included Social Media and Site Members, etc..

But I don’t see that. It looks like there are ‘extended circles’ which is like FB Friends of friends, but not a way to group a subset of your circles (friends and family) together.

The other thing about posting in this circle-specific way is that that choice itself becomes an aspect of the conversation. If I’m understanding how circles work, people are not aware of their circle-assignment. And they’re not aware of who else is in the circle they’re in. Those audience-identification aspects of the conversation are important for context though. They color the meaning of the communication, whether it’s personal communication or social media communication.

Without that context, is the message intact still? And the responses of folks in the circle – seems they might respond one way if they know they’re in a ‘friends’ group or a different way if they know their circle assignment is ‘acquaintances’.

I wonder if practices will evolve that will include id of the group w/n the message in some cases, or will include the specific response that would be appropriate/desired.

I’m modifying this as I go this morning, which is not optimal perhaps, but I want the content to end up as valid and true as possible! One thing I just realized – each post does have a header on it that has the time, and then also whether that post is ‘Public’ or ‘Limited’. So that adds a lot to this discussion.. Limited posts being indicated as such is a good starting point.

I’m toying with the idea of including something in my About message about special interest groups I have, for people to let me know of their interests. Especially since I’m including work content – social media, links to these blog posts here. Like, maybe I’ll have some really generic, Highly Interesting & Fun content of interest to all circles in my public stream, then not only personal content will be circle-specific, but also most social media content (I’ve obviously posted too many notes on Google + recently!), other work content etc.. would be circle-specific.

And then, being the way I am (verging dangerously close to TMI), I have folks in multiple circles. Thinking about it more (after original posting): it’s not so much like an email that they’d get multiple copies of, it’s an ability to perceive the content. So folks in multiple circles included in one message – I’m sure they just see it once. They’ve just received the ability to see it multiple times.

Hmmm, lots of interesting aspects to learn more about! I know there were groups and lists in FB, but I never used those. My impression is that most people used Groups, and everyone knew they were in that Group, cause they joined it in particular. Everyone is aware of group messages being for the group. So these being issues new to Google + Circles, that information not being available.

One Tip I just heard from comments on a post of Chris Brogan: two special circles you may want to establish are ‘bookmarks’ and ‘drafts’, and then have yourself only in those groups! For works-in-progress, items of interest, etc.. Another is, if you want to see what circles other people have used, type a few letters in the circle-naming box and other frequent choices will appear!

And from a post by Imad Naffa, one could hope that Google will make possible shared portions of two circles (venn diagram-like) and so forth, since those capacities exist in their regular search processes.

Also, circles can also be used as a viewing glass for your wall – you can look at posts only from people in this or that circle! Those posts you can see would be only the public ones of theirs, if they haven’t added you to any groups, or additional posts of theirs in the groups they added you to. As Mark Krynsky mentions at the end of this more-broad and excellent post, that won’t guarantee those posts are specific to that content, since most people post a variety of content. But it’s something.

PS I just have to say, love how the alert box (on the right top bar, shows red when there’s a comment) opens up to show the post itself being commented on, and lets you comment back right there, without having to scroll down to where the original comment was!

One more thing: Content from Google themselves on Circles!

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5 Comments

Filed under Infrastructure, Marketing, Resources, Social Media, Technology

5 responses to “Google + Notes: on Circles

  1. Pingback: Further update of initial + article | Clarity Solutions

  2. Some interesting ideas here — like your “circles of circles” concept (meta-circles ?) . If they did this it would probably be down the road a bit. The nesting sounds a bit programatically challenging. I can’t think of any online service I’ve seen that has attempted a “sets within sets” nesting feature.

    Anyway — good thoughts here 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments!

      By the way, I was originally planning on going in to Computer Science – sometimes still wish I had – so the programming aspect of things really interests me! And I still especially value and enjoy tech information and all.

      Like accounting, which I did go in to, there’s lots of logic and intellectual effort and so on. But then comes the eternal source of despair – contact with the customer/user. In computer programming, still is to be celebrated when something is built great and also has a great interface. In the case of circles, seems like there’s two clashing paradigms: using circles to categorize your relationships with people, and using circles to manage your content delivery and incoming content. Seems they’ve simplified reality into those two paradigms being equal, but real life being what it is – it’s more complicated than that!

      Is always the case with accounting as well.

      Yes, I can only imagine how complicated the programming would be! I’ve since pretty much decided to define circles entirely by content, not at all by relationship.

      Thanks again very much for commenting!

      I’m just kind of starting out actually blogging myself, hope to start writing more regularly soon. Hope you’ll check in again!

  3. Yeah, my gut tells me it’s not just the programming but the performance issues — “scaling up” as users are added. I think the cpu cycles for indexing all of these relationships may grow pretty dramatically as accounts are added. On the other hand… this kind of feature may only be used by a small minority of users. And … Google has servers far superior to mine and programmers far smarter than I am 🙂 Anyway – sounded like a good idea to me.

    The real value of Google+ will be unleashed when they start to integrate with other Google tools. First for me is I would love to see integration with Google reader – so I can post directly from there to Google+ – preferably, generating my own bit.ly URL along the way 🙂

    Best of luck with this. I’ll be starting a blog in a few months myself.

    • I’m thinking you’re right up there with the rest!

      Yes, Google Reader integration (although I haven’t fully come on board with that yet) sounds like a great step forward. I’ll keep an eye out for your blog!

      Thanks much,

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