Monday, July 04, 2011

First thoughts on Google Plus

Circle Last week Google launched it's latest social network, Google Plus. Invitations are limited at present, sorry, but new people are getting in all the time. It's new, there are bugs (particularly on iPads) but after a few days, here are my first thoughts.

A feature of G+ is Circles, a way of grouping contacts. This may seem trivial, but in fact poses complex practical problems. More than that, the Circles idea is vital to the success of G+. I've been thinking about this for three days now. The more I think, the more complex the problem becomes. One thing is certain - more is not better! Circles are G+'s USP, an anti-Facebook concept designed to give the illusion of privacy. In reality, they have just served to illustrate how complex online privacy is. The only workable practical policy is if you put something online, assume it is public. The other concern is that circles to not inherently provide noise filtering. G+ does not seem to offer much advance here.

I started with lots of Circles, but with experience pruned the number drastically, now to just three, plus one for my own institution only. You can't see other people's circles or the circles they've put you in. I'm actually just one step away from "Friends" (need to find a better name) and "Everyone else". (Maybe "Inner" and "Outer"; alternatively, we already have a working model for circles)

Big question: What is G+ for?
It's too early to answer that yet. I remember clearly the lightbulb moment when I "got" how friendfeed fitted into my life. With Twitter, it was less clear, more of a process. One thing is sure, I don't have room for another social network in my life, so what, if anything, is G+ likely to replace? It's too early to say, but it won't be Facebook (family and friends unlikely to move) and is unlikely to be Twitter, so probably my already moribund friendfeed account.


RRW: Google Plus' Circles System May Not be Sustainable

TechCrunch: When Google Circles Collide:
"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."


  1. I have a simple brain and I like separating my conversations using tools, so colleagues on twitter, friends and family on facebook suites me well. I know who I'm talking to, what about and how they know me. More importantly I can easily tell where I am and therefore who I am talking to by the tool. Even if everyone in those two social networks converged onto G+, (and that is a very unlikely IF) I still don't think I would be comfortable with using one system to talk to everyone in slightly different ways.

    However, I can see G+ being a place to find out interesting stuff, there are some interesting people hanging out there, which might be a pull in the end. I still need a 'place' to be a student/ teacher but at the moment I'm assuming that is going to be fb or twitter, since the other teachers/ students are already there.. I'm not sure G+ will be the place to go for a new network, although if I were running the PGCE course, I'd be tempted to set it up to use for student-student communication, just like we did with friendfeed. That extra step of many people already having gmail accounts is one less step to get people signed up. Been chatting with old friends who use gmail/chat that I never realised were online in that space before, they are both on facebook but don't chat much there.

  2. One possibility would be to set up two G+ accounts, one personal and one professional, then use different browsers to separate the cognitive spaces.
    As for use with students ... I'm not sure yet. Clearly not next academic year, maybe later.

  3. It's certainly been an interesting few days working through privacy issues and the perceptions of public/private.
    As you know, I rather enjoyed the fact that my circle on day 1 was very small indeed and posted my thoughts quite freely, but within 48 hours many more people had joined so I promptly deleted a couple of posts ;)
    It's been great working through the public/private issues with a like-minded circle, typical meta-level discussion about the space itself. Am also very interested to see where this goes - and also aware that already I'm tweeting less, along with slight drop in presence on other mobile/web platforms...

  4. AJ, I'm still figuring out what to do with Google+, but it is clearly not a replacement for Twitter or Facebook. It will either replace FriendFeed - or become the latest social networking flop by Google.

  5. I have a feeling this one is going to make it. Let's start to organize.

  6. Everyone is thrilled at the speed of growth of google plus and how it suddenly became a big name in such a short time after arrival is a success story of sorts!