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G+ Conceptual Model: Our Friends Are Conduits of the Information Stream
+Kevin Cheng asks, "Can we ever digitally organize our friends?"
The short answer is, no.
My question back to him is "Why do you want to?"

In his article, Kevin says, "When I first started using Google+, I had a sense of déjà vu as I categorized my friends. I’d done this before… on Flickr, on Facebook, on Twitter, on my instant messenger contact list, and in my address book."

I don't wonder that he quickly got bored categorizing friends. I would, too. The great thing about Google+ is that we are not required to set up a massive or complicated system to organize our friends before we start.

I thought about it myself. Why do I organize my contacts? It's not about putting people in boxes. On Google+, it's about controlling the flow of information:
* the information I want to hear (reading circles)
* the information I want to share (writing circles)

Streams represent the flow of information. Circles are the conduits through which information flows. Circles enable us to channel information where we want it as we convey information to our contacts and they convey information to us.

Google+ helps us organize information. It doesn't burden us with organizing friends.

Google+ doesn't make us carry over the baggage from other systems. It provides a place to start fresh with only the people with whom we are actively engaged. For example, there's absolutely no reason for me to add my plumber to Google+ -- I don't intend to be sharing any riveting articles on plumbing with him. He's still in my Gmail contacts when I need him.

Google+ allows us to be as social as we want to be -- whether we are introverts or extroverts. It lets us gracefully shed relationships which are no longer engaging -- without slamming the door in someone's face.

My advice? Don't add someone to Google+
-- until you have something to share with them, or
-- unless they write something you want to read

Don't carry the dead weight over from other systems. It's too much bother. Plus, you are going to meet a lot of new, engaging people here.

Note: Be sure to click through and read Kevin's article. He has many interesting insights about Google+ on what works for him and what doesn't work.
Simon Newby's profile photoJelmer Feenstra's profile photoM Sinclair Stevens's profile photo
You're right Ed, there's no "Everyone but this circle."... Though I must ask - if you really don't want your mom to see it, don't circle her ;)
+Ed Arefiev Many people have requested this functionality but I think it breaks what circles represent. When I post to a circle, I hide that post from everyone but the people circle. When I post to Public, I'm making the information available (giving read permissions) to everyone on the Internet.

I believe that the decision to read public posts should be in the control of the follower. After all, I chose to follow you. So, I do understand the problem. I just think cutting off certain circles from public posts is the wrong solution.

Here's more background on my position. Shortly after writing this I was validated by someone who knew me only from my hobby. Not only did that person thank me for my public posts, they compiled a list of links to them a blogged and tweeted them to our shared friends. None of this would have happened had I hid public posts from my Hobby circle.

Here's the tool suggestion I submitted for filtering streams -- for the follower to use.

Here's are various suggestions I have for cutting down the noise level.
+Ed Arefiev So, you publish your photographs to all the strangers on the Internet but you don't want to share them with the people who chose to follow you? That makes no sense to me. Either publish them to a Photography circle, or let everyone see them. If they don't like them, they can just press the j key to jump over them. Let your readers decide.
+Ed Arefiev I understand the situation both from the reader's and the writer's perspectives. We've been discussing the issues in my posts for the last three weeks. It's not that I don't get the problem. It's that I don't agree with the solution.

Personally, if someone is interesting to me only 1/10th of the time, I wouldn't follow them. My own example is Tom Anderson. He writes fascinating stuff about Google+. He also posts tons of animated GIFs which I can't stand. I tried following him several times and the GIFs just annoyed me. Now I just click over to his page once in awhile to see if has anything interesting to say.

Here's my approach.

Don't be afraid to unfollow -- you can still keep up
+Ed Arefiev I've enjoyed our discussion! I agree -- the thing I like about Google is its flexibility. A post can be anything. It just depends on content and audience. There are few tool constraints. It works for both content creators and content sharers.

I don't see Google+ primarily as a social network. It is that -- but it's more than that. I see it as an information management tool with an emphasis on sharing content.
You guys seem to have finished this discussion, but as this still hasn't been addressed by Google let me just add the following:

I understand the points you're both trying to make. However, I agree with +Ed Arefiev that it's a shame there's no way for the content creator (the poster) to prevent subjecting family/close friends/sports-buddies to stuff that you'd like to post publicly. In my case I'd like to post technical stuff to my public circle, but right now I'm not doing that at all because I don't want to bother the aforementioned circles with these posts.

For me the problem basically boils down to the fact that I can't specifically address people who follow my 'public persona' (and whom I do not follow back). Somewhat agreeing with +M Sinclair Stevens I understand it's difficult to know what these people hope to get out of following me: do they want my personal posts, or do they want my technical (public) posts?

It's a difficult problem, which might explain why nothing about this has changed yet.

Ps. Things would be better if posting to both 'public' and 'techies' (which is currently possible, but just posts publicly) would result in my other circles not seeing my posts in their streams (but they would see it on my profile page). Google could implement this, and just explain this concept when people decide to post to both 'public' and another circle (which one normally wouldn't do anyway).
+Jelmer Feenstra Now that Google+ has implemented Pages, you can move all your professional writing to a Page. However, now that we're six months into Google+, this issue hasn't been a problem for me. This is because Google+ has become an entirely new territory. My old associates remained where they are and I now have a lot of new associates. I travel in both worlds: the interest graph (Google+) and the social graph (other). It's the virtual equivalent of my work and home lives.
So basically you're saying you're not using G+ to keep in touch with your friends?
+Jelmer Feenstra Correct. Although a lot of my tech colleagues signed up in the first week, only one of them posts regularly or interacts with me on G+. And no one who I know in the blogosphere has made the transition. So, for me, G+ is like an entirely new world of interesting people to explore. As such, it has been far more vibrant and exciting than my experiences with Twitter or FB. That is, the lack of my social net has been a feature, not a bug.
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