Saturday, July 02, 2011

Will Google+ beat Facebook?

Let's hope so. From a critic:emp add)
Facebook flattens our social relationships into one undifferentiated blob. It's almost impossible to organize friends into discrete groups like "family" and "work" and "school friends" and so forth. ...

In truth, Facebook started out with an oversimplified conception of social life, modeled on the artificial hothouse community of a college campus, and it has never succeeded in providing a usable or convenient method for dividing or organizing your life into its different contexts. This is a massive, ongoing failure. And it is precisely where Facebook's competitors at Google have built the strength of their new service for networking and sharing, Google+. ...

By far the most interesting and valuable feature of Google+ is the idea of "circles" that it's built upon. You choose friends and organize them into different "circles," or groups, based on any criteria you like -- the obvious ones being "family," "friends," "work" and so on.

The most important thing to know is that you use these circles to decide who you'll share what with. So, if you don't want your friends to be bugged by some tidbit from your workplace, you just share with your workplace circle. Google has conceived and executed this feature beautifully; it takes little time to be up and running.

The other key choice is that you see the composition of your circles but your friends don't: It's as if you're organizing them on your desktop. Your contacts never see how you're labeling them, but your labeling choices govern what they see of what you share.

I'm sure problems will surface with this model but so far it seems sound and useful, and it's a cinch to get started with it. Of course, if you're already living inside Facebook, Google has a tough sell to make. You've invested in one network, you're connected there; why should you bother? But if, like me, you resisted Facebook, Google+ offers a useful alternative that's worth exploring.
We'll see how Google handles privacy settings, but it's almost a sure bet it won't be the Gordian knot that Facebook presents.


Come on---the real mystery is why anyone thinks these "social networking" sites are all that useful and represent any kind of important advance over email and the web, apart from making it easier to share personal photos?

Well, of course, there's the not-so-useful effect of a corporation trying to become the one-and-only web portal, and thereby collect huge monopoly rents (stemming from networking effects).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/02/2011 12:07 PM  

There are huge privacy problems with any Google product. Why would I want to help them any more than I already do by "joining" their social networking shtick. Feh. For a pretty good rundown of Google's info mining environment, check out this post.

By Anonymous lea-p, at 7/02/2011 10:59 PM  

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