A Circle is not a Space
July 13, 2011 · Blog1756 · Posted by Greg Lloyd
Like many people in the tech industry, I've been happily exploring and enjoying Google+ for the past week or so (thank you Susan Scrupski for the early invitation).
Google's Circle model was carefully designed, with a wonderfully polished interface for adding folk to Circles and creating new Circles.
I think it's easiest to understand the Circle model by comparing it directly to email lists.
My Google+ Foodie Circle Example
If I create a Circle named Foodies and include all my foodie friends, I can post restaurant photos and notes that can only be read by folk I've included in my Foodies circle, hidden from the public.
1) You can't add yourself to my Foodies circle.
2) When you look at my Profile, you don't know what Circles I may have added you to.
3) You don't know the names of any of the Circles I have created.
4) You don't know the names of those Circles of mine of which you're a member.
5) You can't treat Foodies like a Twitter Hash tag.
So when I create a Foodies Circle, you can't follow or block posts I make to that Circle (a common request).
You don't even know that my Foodies circle exists unless I tell you about it.
And when I'm on my Google+ Streams Page, clicking Foodies doesn't show me posts I or others have made "about" food - it just shows me the list of all public or limited distribution posts made by people I put in my Foodies circle.
It's also not [currently] possible for a group of friends to create a public Google+ Circle that people can follow, join, or leave on their own.
Adding public Circles would create a kind of shared Space model, where everyone who is a member of the same Space gets (at least) permission to see what other members of the same Space post.
The current Circle definition and possible extensions are pretty clear to folk who get deeply into sharing models (including yours truly).
"Circle" is so powerful that I think a lot of people hear it as something acting more like a shared Space than how Google+ currently works: Circles act like email lists.
A Google Circle is Like a Personal Email List
Google+'s Circle model provides a way for you to share specific conversations with a set of people who you select, who may choose to listen to what you say, and who can comment back to you and others who share the same conversation.
1) You address a Google+ post to a specific set of individuals or to a named Circle (email list) when you create a post.
2) If people to whom your post is addressed decide to listen to you (they name you in at least one of their Circles), they'll see your post in their input stream.
The list of your Circles shown on your Google+ Stream page looks something like a list of incoming email folders.
3) Commenting on a post is like replying to a specific email message.
4) You can't change the Circle to which a post is addressed.
5) When you Share a Google+ post from someone else, it's like you're sending a copy of the original post to a different set of people (the Circle you select), but without the original post's comments.
Each Shared copy then accumulates its own independent set of comments, visible to the people to whom the new Share was addressed, including resharing a private message to the general Public.
GMail, Wave, Buzz, Google+ Circles - Email messaging is the model
I believe GMail, Wave, Buzz, and the Circle model of Google+ all share DNA from Google's email culture and the GMail product:
. . there are literally tens of thousands of special interest groups that can range in size from two to more than 1,000 members and cover topics from wine to hiking to quilting to Dungeons & Dragons. There are the Gleeglers (who sing a cappella); the Dooglers, who bring their dogs to work; the Snowglers (skiers); and the Skeptics (who question everything). There are groups for pilots, expectant moms and photographers, and a group for Googlers who like flea markets. There's even a group for former startup employees whose companies were bought by Google and who may struggle to navigate a company where they must be both entrepreneurs and employees.
Any employee can start a group -- in fact, employees are encouraged to, said Stacy Sullivan, Google's chief culture officer, a title bestowed by the founders.
Most groups have an email "alias" on Google's vast intranet system, such as "bowling@google. com. " Google has more than 100,000 group aliases in its Intranet system, although not all groups are active.
For employees, the groups "have been kind of anchors and havens and think tanks -- to actually be able to build their own community, just for their own support and interactions, within the mass of all Google," Sullivan said.
As Google has grown, "I think it's become much more important because when you're this big, you can lose sight of being connected to the mass around the world. So this is one way they can all pull together. "
From At Google Groups are key to the company's culture
by Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News, 23 Jun 2011
Google+ Circles avoids the Buzz assumption that your social network could be gathered and publicized by analyzing the your email contacts - an assumption that might have worked internally for Google, but which caused a firestorm of protest and legal action when Buzz launched.
Google+ Circles provide a much more refined model of selective sharing.
Twitter connects fragments by tags.
A Circle is not a Space
For work, the current Google+ post and comment presentation can become noisy and unpredictable, repeatedly showing promoted posts based on recent comments from any source, and repeating Shares that fragment comment threads.
More significantly, the current Google+ Circle model makes it difficult to see what's happening in the context of a business activity - tapping into a stream of posts, comments, replies, actions, and actions.
For example, a Space shared by members of law firm and Client A naturally frames and protects work and conversation in that context while also protecting it from disclosure to any other client.
JP Rangaswami is currently experimenting with three different formats for three purposes:
Playing with formats.
Twitter as short form frequent.12 Jul 2011 @Jobsworth google plus as longer form, one per speaker at TED. Blog as even longer, one per event)
He's also experimenting with a Google+ Circle workaround to allow people to opt in to his conference liveblog posts.
The Google+ preview is just about a week old, and Google is actively asking for feedback and suggestions, which has led to lively discussions on how Circles might evolve.
See links and Google+ discussion (gathered from G+ and all over)
JP Rangaswami, Google+, 12 Jul 2011 (Public)
I'm experimenting …
JP Rangaswami - I'm experimenting.
Seeing if I can avoid making noise in people's streams by giving them subscriber-level choices on subsets of my stream. For the next few days I will be covering TEDGlobal, but the updates will only reach those who ask me for them. If you asked me, and you don't start receiving them in a short while, do let me know.
Yes I know the way I've done it is messy (creating a publisher circle and then manually adding people to that circle as they ask to be included) but I could not find s simpler way.
Let us see.
John Tropea, Library Clips blog, 8 Jul 2011
Google Plus: Closed group email collaboration done online
Greg Lloyd, Google+, 6 Jul 2011 (people in my Circles only)
G+ comment streams on public posts by popular folk are problematicI can't Share this to Public without losing comments, but here's the main point:
Greg Lloyd - Interesting - and encouraging - to see improvements to adaptive boost of posts based on new comments.
Today a 5 hour old +Sergey Brin scenic photo post ~ sticks in place as older post despite a continuous patter of "nice photo!" comments from folk I don't know or follow.
Not clear what the promised comment weighting stream boost adjustment was.
Social / follow weighted, linguistic or other, but helps S/ N for public posts by famous folk whose patter of friendly, log rolling or spam comments would never die. Google+ needs to fix this before it's gamed to spoil the Public commons.
About 30 minutes after post thanking Google for promised improvement in comment boost to reduce noise based on "non-relevant" comment, a 5 hour old +Sergey Brin photo popped to the top of my mobile and desktop stream with a recent "Cool Man!" comment.
No intervening comments from folk I follow in those 30 minutes that I can see.
+Sergey Brin Still getting flooded with tortoise pictures and the like.
More recent pyramid pictures are an improvement, but please keep pushing for improvement.
See "flooded by tortoise pictures" discussion
JP Rangaswami, Google+, 10 Jul 2011
In G+, Circles should be created by "publishers" as well as "subscribers"
JP Rangaswami - I guess I'm warped.
What I really want is to break myself up, classify myself, into a series of circles: cloud, food, music, books, cricket, politics, hippieness, freedom, whatever. Then others who put me into their circles can choose to put bits of me or all of me. Publisher circles are like hashtags and channels. Subscriber circles are filters and balancers. That combination creates the best signal-to-noise ratios
Jeff Jarvis, Google+, 4 Jul 2011 (public)
Greg Lloyd - I'd also welcome a pure chron option, with one click to take me to the full post and comments for context when I want it.
For promotion or pure chron, imo Twitter asymmetric reply clip is pretty effective.
E. g. Twitter rule that mutes replies from your stream unless you follow both parties. Although I originally opposed the change, I've grown to like it.
Without a pure time ordered option (and jump to full thread) or a hard clip, promoting a post from famously popular person will always be problematic when thousands of "me too" comments pile on.
That was my major beef with Buzz. I guess I need so see what Google+ does with rank.
. . Jennifer Forman Orth - So, basically, no one's ever going to see this comment :-). How does this foster networking, especially for the Technorati who cultivate these large clusters of folks they do not know to follow them? If I figure no one's going to read what I say, what is the incentive to comment?
Greg Lloyd - Jennifer - A valid point, but IMO the recourse is social.
With Twitter, Jeff or someone else may rt or "publicly" reply to you and a wider non-clipped audience by prefixing your handle with a character. This subtly raises the visibility of particularly good comment based on human judgment, polite recognition, and an invitation to a larger audience to read more of what you say.
Greg Lloyd - Taking this conversation as something close to a best case, about 50% of the comments are "I agree" or restate the original point.
This from a group of bright and eager early adopters. When the number of Google+ folk increases by three or four orders of magnitude - not counting bots - the bounce will become ludicrously noisy, like Buzz. That's not conversation, that's Brownian motion. Selectively following a reasonably large number of diverse, curious and intelligent folk with a sense of humor is the only scalable filter I know that balances breadth vs S/ N. I want to leverage their judgement to surface interesting discussion and as well as talent scouts for who else to follow
Sergey Brin, Google+, 4 Jul 2011 (Public)
… getting flooded by comments on [ five year old ] tortoise pictures
Sergey Brin - I think a lot of people are under the misimpression that I am posting photos of exotic places at a furious pace to Google+.
Actually, I have had a bunch of albums public for some time on my picasaweb page. However, people only started to take note recently thanks to Google+ and when they comment on those photos they end up in the streams of people who have me in their circles.
We made some ranking changes recently that demote such comments if the commenter is not in your circles.
Let me know if you are still getting flooded with tortoise pictures and the like.
Ross Mayfield, Slideshare, 5 July 2011
Visual Guide to Circles in Google+