Google+ a week in. Sort out your symmetry! And other musings…

It’s been a week since my initial thoughts on Google+, and my uses for it have changed rather heavily!

The core 6 or 7 peeps I converse with on Wave everyday, yeh, we’re still using Wave for that. We gave it a go, and apart from us having perfected how we use Google Wave and feeling way too comfortable with it, the asymmetry of Circles as they currently stand, didn’t sit well with us. Ok, me anyway. Stand, sit, sheesh, I need to learn how to write…


I noticed it a day in. I just explained it terribly. Today’s TechCrunch post crystallised things.

But Circles are one-way, or asymmetric. Everyone sets up their own Circles and nobody knows whose Circle they are in. Secret Circles would be a more apt description. Zuckerberg seems to be suggesting that they are not really groups because instead of everyone in the group knowing who else is in the group, it is the exact opposite: nobody knows which groups they are in.

Circles are so confusing that Ross Mayfield created the Slideshare below to explain it all. Facebook has a “symmetric sharing” model where two people mutually confirm that they are friends, and then can start sharing stuf with each other privately or publicly. Twitter has an “asymmetric follow” model where people Tweet out publicly and anyone can follow what they are broadcasting without that person necessarily following back. It’s one-way.

Google+, however, has an “asymmetric sharing” model where you can share one-way with people, but they don’t have to share back. 

If it’s still not clear, feel free to browse through the slide deck below. Needing 17 slides to explain Circles possibly indicates the ease of it.

Now, I’d like to have both, and I think they can work well together; it’s whether it becomes too complex for the “normal” user, and how people ultimately end up using it, if it actually catches on. Twitter Lists can be public and private, and I use both. I’ve curated a bunch of tech blogs and people into a tech list, others into a movie / tv news list, etc. If someone wants to follow these lists, they can go right ahead and do so, but I also have a few private lists that contain either people I don’t follow or who don’t tweet much, that I’d still like to keep a look out for.

I’ve always wanted to be able to @ reply or mention a particular list and have tweets go out to them, and that’s what Circles is really doing. What I also want is the traditional, symmetric sharing model. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve serendipitously discovered great discussion and links from people I don’t know who are showing up via comments, but I want the distinction.

I hate, HATE having conversations on Twitter. It was fine at once, but to see a stream I already envelope being flooded by back and forth conversation that is so difficult to craft and wordsmith with the character limit, pains me greatly. This brings me to what I’m currently in love with on Google+; the ridiculously good discussion that’s being had by the tech geeks of the world!

I’m seeing so many people whinge about “all people talk about on Google+ is Google+ and stuff I saw on Twitter”. Well, sucks to be you. Yes, obviously it’s a part of it, while people are still discovering how to best use it, especially this current crowd, but it’s a small part of the experience for me, and I’ve already found many links and posts I’ve loved that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

A lot of people are devoting a lot of time to this, and it’s great to read, and be part of. Whether this is the honeymoon period and it all wears off in a few weeks, who knows, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

There’s been a bunch of discussion around what else is broken, so I won’t go into it too much, but for me, the stream is still rather noisy, and the re-surfacing model for posts no doubt needs refinement.

Sharing and re-sharing. I doubt this will happen, but good lord, comments and conversation need to be aggregated and centralised. It’s plain silly to see a stream of the same post shared by three different people, and three different threads of comments. Can it not somehow be linked back to the original author?

Oh, and notification options PER circle please.

Oh, and email notifications in that same notification bar would be handy too!

I’m still on it, still using it, and it’s faring a lot better than Buzz. Not that that’s anything to go by, but you know, baby steps!


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