+Kevin Cheng offers some great feedback on Circles and "grouping"... Kevin, now at Twitter, is a brilliant product designer (and worked for me back in the days of Brickhouse back at Yahoo.) +Fred Wilson further opines on Kevin's piece here http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/07/explicit-groups-vs-implicit-groups.html and shares much of what I was gearing up to say... I thought this quote from Fred was interesting:

"This is an opportunity to use machines. And Google is doing this with Google+. The recommendations on who to add to what circles are amazing.... I trust Google to do a fine job of this for me. They've proven themselves worthy of the job so many times in my relationship with them over the years. I trust that they can build algorithms like this as well or better than any other company out there."

These are both great posts... recommended. I want share a bit more on where things stand today, and how we're receiving the feedback.

Circles should be easy. Per Fred's point, users should be able to put their own data to work in their service... and Google is typically pretty adept in this regard. I think there is ample opportunity to suggest meaningful circles based on a user's domain-specific interactions with others. (See Fred's example of "Music Friends".) I've seen great feedback in this direction from both users and pundits... shared affiliations, interests, geography, etc. can all help build meaningful circles (all pursuant to a permission model that respects all parties of course.) I'm confident we've got some great innovations to share here.

Circles should be fun. +Andy Hertzfeld +Joseph Smarr +Eric Cattell +Shimrit Ben-Yair (and contributors too numerous to mention, apologies) designed an interface that is fun, unexpected, whimsical... and works. I've never woken up one fine morning and thought, "I'm going to spend an hour categorizing my friends today." But in my own experience, the Circle editor doesn't feel that way at all. I find it easeful and fun... and I've heard some great ideas about improving its usability already.

Circles should be useful. A user should get a hundred-fold payback for the easy (see above) and fun (see above) "investment" she made managing her Circles. Using Circles as filters for consuming information, destinations for sharing, and ACL's for managing visibility of information are just the beginning... but already we think there's a pretty good ROI.

We're just getting started. I believe we've already created something that's easy, fun and useful. But the foundation we've realized today isn't the end state. We're attuned to this feedback, have some great ideas of our own, and have a lot of exciting developments underway. Some of them are just around the corner... others longer-term. But this kind of feedback is greatly appreciated and spurs great conversation. Stay tuned.
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