Circles help me to subscribe to people but how do I subscribe to topics?

(warning: long post)

My current feeling is Google+ is that still incomplete if you want to use the system to discuss topics with a degree of depth. Currently I think Google+ is better suited to general discussions on a mixture of topics.

That means that the other shoe has yet to drop. G+ will have to add topic specific tags (like +Chris Messina's twitter hash tag's) and also saved searches. That way you can still post on a number of topics and people will be able to filter for the posts that you make on specific topics.

If you thought that this is what circles were supposed to do and already can do then you are wrong. There can't be topic-specific circles, there can only people-specific circles. A circle cannot be about single topic unless its members post only on a single topic.

Here is my thinking:

If people want to be multi-topic then they usually post publicly because they don't know who will be interested. But for topic specific circles to work at all, they would have to stop posting publicly and start posting only to their topic specific circles.

Currently you can't share the memberships of circles easily so each person must build their own version of this topic-specific circle and ask to be included in the circles of each of its members.

First question: how do people discover other people's interests if their posts are not public? Let's assume we can solve that problem with public invitations to chat about a topic.

If person A wants to read the posts about topic X posts from person B, they need to ask person B to add them to their topic X circle. Person B then needs to be disciplined enough to either only post publicly on topic X or only post on topic X to their topic X circle

If person B wants to post on something else (say topic Z) then they shouldn't post publicly because their topic X circle will also get this topic Z post. This dilutes the value of the topic X circle if its members often publicly post off-topic.

So just that awkwardness alone make me think that the whole idea of topic-specific circles is unworkable. Circles are for people not topics of interest. Google+ currently is not really able to handle topics because it lacks the ability to add topic specific tags to posts and has no way to search and retrieve posts containing these tags.

I know that +Robert Scoble talked about interest graphs a few weeks ago. He's right that Google+ doesn't have those facilities yet. At the very least we need a search engine (and preferably one with the ability to bookmark searches). Then we can search our public stream on topic X and better yet restrict our searches to return posts only from our hand-picked circles of people.

This may have been obvious to everyone but it's taken me this long to even start to understand this aspect of circles.

#p2t
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