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."