Lots has been written about Google’s new social network and, naturally, comparing it to Facebook. Having just read GigaOm’s take on it, I found myself agreeing to two points:
1. The typical Facebook user is “diluting” his/her social graph by adding too many users that are not close enough to be friends.
2. When that user considers posting a status update on Facebook, he/she has to consider that people that he/she would rather not see it, will see it.
This is where Google’s concept of Circles works great. I’ve already realized that not everyone in my social graph needs to see all of my updates and in the past I have censored my updates because of that. I have old work colleagues, new work colleagues, college friends, childhood friends, family and really really casual acquaintances. With Circles, I can quickly decide who gets to see my updates and I don’t have to censor anything.
Here’s just one example from the past where having Circles would have helped immensely:
A family member was ill, suffering from a disease that required many tests, exams, scans, operations and all that fun stuff. My friends and family wanted updates on the situation but having each of them call and me repeating the same information was stressful, to say the least.
I considered updating via Facebook. The pros: it was the kind of asynchronous communication mode that I liked. I could post my updates when it was convenient for me. Friends could read them at their leisure and ask questions which I could answer, again, when and if it was convenient for me. Also, this way I could spend time on one update and not on multiple phone calls. The cons: I really didn’t want coworkers, past and present, to know anything. The end result: email.
Circles would’ve been perfect!
That and the challenge of getting my older family members on any sort of social network.