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The back & forth between Google & Facebook has been talked about a lot in terms of copying lately. Users (and sometimes journalists) from both camps point out who is copying what and from whom.

Copying is not really the issue. The ideas for features we see on Facebook and G+ are not particularly novel. I think anyone focused on building a social network would come up with most of these features we've seen over the last 8 years or so. If the ideas aren't so important, than what is? It's really about the subtle and delicate combination of both community (users) and UI (how the site works for them), and both emphasis (what does the site encourage users to do) & execution (does it do it well, so users know and conform to the patterns of behavior suggested by the site). When you look at the ideas for features on a social network, it's important to look beyond those ideas and see what they'll mean for humanity when those ideas are arranged in a very deliberate, delicate balance through perfect emphasis & execution. It's this that results in the growth or decline of a social network.

And if there's one word for brings that altogether, that's probably vision. That's why two smart guys:+Robert Scoble and +Mike Elgan recently had a debate over whether Facebook truly has vision, or whether Zuckerberg is just throwing things at the wall to see what will work. But maybe Google's throwing things at the wall as well?

I'd suggest that you can't really say whether a company has vision based on the public display of a few failed products. (Elgan's example of a company with vision, Apple, has had failed products as well, after all.) And you can't really say a company has no vision, even if their vision changes, like Facebook's did from "efficient communication" in the early part of their ascendance to "a platform for sharing" which is what I think they're focused on now. It is possible, of course, to have an evolving vision. (As I argued here,, in an earlier piece about Twitter & Facebook.)

In this video I've shared, Steve Jobs contrasts "copying" with "stealing." He uses these terms (quoting Picasso), to suggest that stealing means to have vision: to see not just great ideas, but to arrange them in a way an artist would, to realize and present something that touches our deepest humanity. This may sound a little heady, but we are talking about social networks here. Why do you think people spend so much time on sites like G+, Facebook and Twitter? They really speak to our deepest needs, and, our souls, even.

Jobs also notes in the video that the users & creators of the original Macintosh were artists & scientists (systematic acquirers of knowledge): musicians, poets, artists, zoologists, and historians. When you put these kind of people in a room, and deep level thinking takes place -- when a vision is revealed (even a shared vision, I don't believe in the idea that visions must come from a single individual), then you get something special.

So if you're a fan of Facebook or G+ -- you might want to ask yourself, what's the vision behind it? And what kind of behavior does the site encourage? What kind of person is a site encouraging you to be, according to the design of its network? Here I'm suggesting that every site has a "vision" -- and some are better than others. Some may be so clouded, that you could argue they have no vision. It's really just another way of describing things.

Right now, I'm a little tired. Rough day over here. But I'll end here -- what's the current "vision" of G+?

Google+ encourages our intellectual nature through long form posting (most blogs do this). It promotes the open & empathetic side of our nature by encouraging the sharing of content and highlights positive reinforcement through recognition. It encourages us to post and seek out quality by rewarding people for "shares" and giving visible credit for them. G+ also invites us to be thoughtful of others not just by using the + [name] to recognize them, but also through the concept of circles which makes us think of our audience when we write. That's what wise people do when they talk -- they consider their audience. Finally, G+ encourages us to meet people in a public square and interact, if one so desires.

As a platform for interaction -- a social network -- G+ is simple, open and flexible, but it encourages more complex thought and interaction. All this is helped along by the fact -- probably out of necessity -- that G+ was created with an 18 & up restriction. I think it's also pertinent to note how the community has built ad-on tools to "shape" the vision put forth by the site itself. I'm not talking about Chrome extensions (though they could be examples as well). I'm talking about third party sites that show "top" and "suggested' users. This also extends to user behavior where so many posts on G+ are about actually recommendations of who one should circle.

Finally, I suspect that Google's "brand" reputation among intellectuals and their 18 & up restriction -- these two things alone -- may have been a key element that's allowed this community to flourish. And that begs the questoin -- is what we are experiencing and using a "vision" Google had? Or is it vision they're discovering? Or is it neither...? Many inventions surprise & mystify their inventors. Does the delicate balance of Google's feature set & UI encourage the behavior I've described? Or is the greatest "feature" of Google+ right now the users themselves?
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Excellent article, Tom. I've been following this debate closely since I started here on G+. As you know, it really influenced my art lately. ;)
From the Express-Courier (A review Google management really needs to reflect on, as it is on the money)
When I told my friends that Google+ was dying, they looked at me puzzled. Turns out they couldn’t believe it wasn’t already 6-feet under. Google was already in every nook and cranny of your private life but it wanted to dig deeper. The company came out with a Facebook clone to do this and is even now congregating and contextualizing all the very possibly embarrassing data that it has on your life using its new social network. However, somewhere along the way to Google competing with Facebook, something went horribly wrong. Maybe it was the middle aged executives who were tasked with building a social network for teenagers (Facebook’s management team is significantly younger). Maybe it was all the things that they wanted to incorporate. Who knows. But Google+ is failing quite miserably. And might be dying.
More and more research is saying that activity is dwindling. One of them said that its posts decreased 41% in the last two months. As if that wasn’t enough, most of the things that Google+ came up with, Facebook mimicked in no time and gave their healthy user base no reason to shift to Google+. No wonder Zuckerberg signed up for Google+ as soon as it was up and running. Google used to be innovative at some point. But then it became a big company and started buying up smart ideas instead of coming up with them. Blogger, YouTube, Motorola Mobility and Double Click to name a few....
TL;DR -- Make sure the vision of the platform you choose to participate on matches (or aligns) with you own.

GREAT post for those that do read it all the way to the end ;) Thank you.
Some artists also get really damn lucky. :)
Josh Carr
"Or is the greatest "feature" of Google+ right now the users themselves?"- Nail on head. =)

edit: Also, the 'stream bumping' is really nice, in most cases.
I'm gonna need some time to think what the vision for both are, and how dynamic these visions are.

I think these networks are born and shaped with a certain flavor from the beginning and once a large amount of people like their dynamics it's very very hard to make them switch in another direction.

I've found it very hard on facebook (not sure if it's because their new Circle's like feature is far from being done) to see myself using it the same way I use Google+

For starters, try to do a long form post there, without simple text formatting features, and knowing that you don't have the same crowd as here for debate and exchange of ideas, plus... having to post something twice (here and there) makes it very hard for Facebook to become that kind of place that nurtures intelligent conversation and creativity. I go to facebook just to see what's happened with my friends and family, and maybe to share a link with them that I wouldn't share here since my friends are not still here.

So I guess the vision of Google+ encompasses the vision of facebook thanks to circles, all we need is all the people from there to here.

Facebook's initial vision is very contradictory with what they're trying to do, Facebook was something people would want because they couldn't have, Facebook was a place where you could only see other people if you were friends of them, etc. I'm not even sure if they should change their ways to be more like G+, maybe it will loose its appeal. Zuckerberg def. has a lot to think about, hope he reads your post or talks to you about all these at some point.
Jobs was justifying his stealing IBM's ideas :P

Overall rating
Thoughtful, well-reasoned statement backed with solid credibility. As the elder statesman with the strongest experiential overview, your measure of the argument is the one to follow.
Great points, of course.
I think that this vision that Google has for Google+ will become more apparent as APIs are released. Those tools are really ways of shaping a community towards a specific vision. The current API set is limited, but already many interesting applications have been created. Right now, this seems to center on finding more people to interact with. It will be even more interesting when new ways to interact are released into the wild.
Thanks for the insightful post from someone who has been there.
+Nicholas Tino Indeed, I'd say that "success" actively gets in the way of being the best product. Once you've succeeded, the short-term economic incentive is toward abandoning the unifying ideas and pandering.
Tom, I'm not sure you can attach vision to "social networks" prima fascie of building the network. If there is ANY human systems that we see grow in their own way its social networks. Even the founders of Twitter didn't predict their platform would be used for the Arab Spring of 2011.

I think you're asking the right questions, but I'm not sure the idea that 18+ restriction encourages more "deep thought" is any more true than the early adopters, who are mostly social media pros, drive most of the engagement on the platform.

Human systems in social are unpredictable. I think Google and we are learning what G+ is evolving into, but I'm not sure we can fairly speculate it was because Google had a vision for this "thing" as it is now. If that were the case, the corporate vision would have demanded it be built a long time ago.
its not about copying, its not about neat ideas, or about how cleanly they are presented, its all about owning 100% of my personal data, info, pics, etc..
I humbly think that not every facebook user is for Google+ ! dont know if you all get me :) so I know for certain that not many of the people I have there will be here.. not at all..
It isn't about stealing, more like standing on the shoulders of giants. You can't steal what it given...
Great read. But I love how Jobs talks about stealing and copying (as though in some instances they're okay when you put your spin and vision on them) and today his company is suing Android device manufacturers for anything even remotely similar to any iOS device.
I have really been enjoying your posts regarding social media. You should get your own website! :)
I'm gonna love this if I get posts of Steve Jobs & Apple everyday. :-)
I do believe that the way Google+ is being used as you described was in the vision that its creators at Google had, but I don't think they suspected its users would adapt so readily and naturally to it. I think they expected a period of adjustment, as evidenced by some dogfood testers saying it was too complicated, that Google needed to split up Google+ and release it in waves.

I don't think Google expected people to take to the (seemingly) new ways of thinking about how you can use a website built for social interaction and run with them. I don't think they realize how natural the way Google+ works is, or how easy it is to think of in terms of corollaries to real life social interactions.
Some comments on here brought up great points on where things like Patents and Tech Companies suing one another come into play with all this. Will the real hopeless romantics running tech corps, please stand up.
Real artists don't pay attention to other artists.
leo kun
these social network wars cause me so much mental fatigue. it made me pause and ask "why do people use social networks? is it a must?" why should i use g+ over fb, or fb over g+? why tweet?

why am i even "hooked" on the internet?! they create this "need" to connect.
d.s. Levy
I find that I'm still using both Facebook and G+ and often will post the same status update to both services. However, a funny thing happened the other day. A friend of mine posted on G+ that it felt like a ghost town here and that nothing ever seemed to be happening. Undoubtedly, that's because he isn't following Plusers like +Tom Anderson or +JR Raphael who I find post two or three times a day and always give me something to think about. I found myself getting upset at my friend's defamatory comments and for a moment considered coming to G+'s defense until I realized there was little I could say to prove to him that this platform is already excellent in its infancy and only bound to improve. The point is that I had an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE ABOUT A SOCIAL PLATFORM. I've never had a similar response to anything said on Facebook ABOUT Facebook. For me, that's all the difference I need. Somehow, Google+ has become something I feel a part of and something I feel lets me express myself as a writer, an artist, and a thinker. I don't feel the same way on Facebook at all.
This is why I follow +Tom Anderson - because he come up with this wisdom even when he is "a little tired." Of all the people I've circled I'm pretty sure he's the one I'd most want to buy a beer for.
I think it's because all of us have been encouraged to provide feedback and they have listened and made some of the changes we've all been clamoring for. It makes us feel like the team of people in that room around a Macintosh Tom was referring to, because we are part of the origins of this platform and have had an impact it is becoming "our" platform more than FB and Twitter ever have become in our lives heretofore. I feel like a kid in a candy store over here. I never felt that way over on FB or Twitter.
Ming Er
Vision is a badge the writers pin on the winners.
+Tom Anderson You've just crafted a very well written piece about social networking, and I'm very appreciative of that. You raise a lot of interesting points, and speak from a position of great personal experience. I respect all of that, and I'm happy to read anything you have to say about social networking.

However, whenever I see this video clip of Steve Jobs, all I can think of are the ongoing patent wars that Apple is a major player in. Apple claims that other major tech companies are trying to steal some of their iPad ideas, and I immediately think of the first sentence you hear when you play the Steve Jobs clip as I've linked to it below:

Steve Jobs: Good artists copy great artists steal

So yeah, I was totally into what you had to say about social networking, until I saw Steve Jobs proudly admitting that Apple always shamelessly stole ideas from others. The moment I see that, my mind instantly gets flipped out of social networking, and into the patent wars.

Sorry about that, Tom. :)
Nice! It really is about the users themselves. "Vision" is totally a matter of semantics. It's more about what the site brings out of you, and how it impacts your view of the world.

I feel like G+ is making me smarter, kinder, and more thoughtful. I'm finding inspiration everywhere. I interact more with strangers than friends on here, and I love it! Accessible knowledge, and cool peeps in general are what make this a great place to be, beyond the "features" designed by the people at Google and talented third-party programmers.

I now look at FB as a "TMZ" of my "friends." I can see who's dating who, who's having babies, what my little cousins and grandparents are talking about, and stuff like that. This is something different.
The greatest "feature" of Google+ right now the users themselves, YES.
+d.s. Levy I think you nailed it there... that's another (and perhaps better) way of saying what I touch upon towards the end there. Glad Dat is not around for this one :-)
I tried using Google+ the same way that I used Facebook and all that happened was that I ended up playing Zombie Lane on my own. On Facebook, the emphasis is on locking people out of your streams. On Google+, it only becomes interesting once you start letting people into your streams. I don't pretend that everyone that I have added in here is a personal friend but I do know that there is a huge and growing pool of talents and ideas being shared in here now. Google+ is just beginning. It's not a failure. It's just the harbinger right now of the success that this medium is going to attain. It's brilliant.
"To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research."
+Mauni Seraji I largely agree with that. For me, the best part of Google Plus is the type of people I tend to meet here. People here seem nicer, more intelligent, more inspiring, more supportive, and more interesting than most of the the other social networks I've tried.

I realize that Google will make more money with more users, but I do hope that this nice community doesn't deteriorate too much when a much broader range of the general public eventually joins. I hope Google+ always remains the social network where "the intelligent and cool people" hang out. Facebook can have all the adolescent drama and negativity. I really don't think we need any of that here.

That said, the Google engineers have done a very nice job creating this system for everyone. I also love they way they listen to the users and add even more helpful features. In the little time I spent with Facebook, I never got the feeling that Zuckerberg and company really cared very much about the end users. Oh sure, they cared about collecting and cataloging people, but they didn't seem interested in their addressing their needs as users, or respecting their rights as individuals. In my opinion, Google does far better on both counts.
Chris B
Wow, 15 Years ago people would have read this and though it was crazy. How accepted have social networks become now that we actually have debates the emotional feelings they produce within us. On a side note, I remember when it was lame to meet "fake friends" through the internet, yet it seems that is what G+ is all about.
Ah, brings me back to the days when it was socially acceptable to poke fun at someone who made friends online.
I will agree that it has a lot to do with execution as I already have problems with the new lists on Facebook as it is automatically putting people in lists they have no business being in. It is also sending out useless notifications to people suggesting lists for them when people add them to lists.
+Tom Anderson you're right, I got confused with their "Lists" feature, I thought they were improving that, but you're right, now it's all about subscribing.

It's interesting that they didn't do so when twitter started getting momentum, but they're doing it now, wonder what triggered it. G+? Intel on Twitter's financials (or recent executive shakeups and departings?)
Some comments on here act like FB ALWAYS had drama and adolescence from the start. It didn't (how long was it restricted to ONLY colleges and academia?). Not really sure when all the Myspace users (who were quite adolescent) started to migrate over, but FB simply became the "Cool" thing to use. Only time will tell, but Google+ is now the place where Intelligent Academics are hanging out. FB seems to have converted itself as the new Myspace (but with far less spam ;).
At first I tried leaving Facebook when I joined G+, but to my surprise, none of my friends really followed suit. Now I see that the two are very different in purpose. Like +Mauni Seraji and +WT Gator said, Facebook is where I have shallow "stalking" exchanges with my real-life friends. I care about my friends, but may not have that much in common with them other than circumstances. G+ is where I seek out outgoing people who actually think like me, and who don't mind sharing with strangers, and engage with them in meaningful conversation. Probably because we make public posts here, the content is much better thought-out, much richer. Definitely a much larger potential for learning and growing here. But one does not replace the other.
Ming Er
+Tom Anderson Or on losers even.

I wish we had a spycam to capture the internal meetings at Google. Are they just a bunch of engineers out to replicate like Microsoft, leaving us to project onto their work great ambitions--a vision--or is there a real deep thinking in the background waiting for us to discover?
+Jonathan Jorge isn't drama and adolescence a part of college social life? I am pretty sure that has always been on Facebook but since less people could use Facebook back then it wasn't an issue.
This is one of the most interesting and well written/commented posts that I have already seen here on G+.

But it seams to me that a great part of the posts here a bit too "philosophical". Not that this is a bad thing, on the contrary. But I thing that things are going to start to change when some "practical" features/tools start to be implemented by Google. If you have search tools, business profiles and enhanced features to be used buy groups that are tied around specific projects than you have a very good reason to attract non "philosophical regular" people. People that are for practical issues rather than great intelligent discussions like this one.

I mean, I would love to see group invitations around specific subjects. Let's say that with only a few clicks you could invite a group of people (even people that are not already on G+) and have them automatically put in a circle where all of them could be around a project. It could either be something complex, or something as simple as next weekend barbecue. People could then follow up everything about the specific "project" with easy, like if they were at a dedicated forum, but with tools that would enhance and facilitate their progress. Something like a more social and less nerdy Google Wave.

I would also like to see some kind of enhanced integration of Hangouts and Youtube. Why not have a hangout broadcasted to greater groups of people where 10 of them participate with audio and video and more people could watch the conversation and even participate via chat.

I guess future features, things that enhance the initial vision making it even stronger and practical, may make Google+ to advance to new frontiers and attract more people. The ones that are more concerned to short term everyday needs rather than philosophical/creative conversations.
So true +Marie Meservy. To have a intelligent conversation, G+ is the only place I can be. To even attempt something like that on FB with my friends would be a disaster. I "read" rather than post on FB simply because I have too many people I don't have anything in common with, it really is like the old days of MySpace in a way.
+Joseph Wingrove Compared to Myspace FB's so called college adolescence when it first came out was like watching everyone who owned a Nobel Peace prize have a very interesting conversation with each other. Myspace at the time was like...well, everyone here has probably seen an episode of Jerry Springer...
+Kevin Thich I actually used to have huge philosophical discussions with my friends on Facebook before G+ came around, and you're right, often it was a disaster. Maybe because if you know someone personally you're more likely to take it personally. Maybe because when you are talking to strangers you are more careful with your manners. On G+ people seem to be more positive in what they say and how they say it.
I still say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" facebook is trying to do too much too quickly. All they are doing is confusing people like me with new features and services (that don't work so well) that people really don't want or need. They should be concentrating more on bringing people together instead of separating them into lists. Facebook has become more of a site for social gaming rather than social networking. if I have something to say, id rather say it here on google+ because its less likely to be buried under constant streams of notifications.
I think you wrote this as a response that facebook is copying all the good stuff from G+, and at the end of the day all that will remain is the vision!, this vision philosophy would mean nothing to me if 95% of my friends stay on facebook !!
+Tom Anderson If you think I've "just shown up angry" in your thread, that wouldn't be accurate at all. I'm not angry. I just think Steve Jobs is being glaringly inconsistent. Yes, I did read the article you linked to, and I do understand it, but I still think Jobs is being inconsistent. I don't want to talk about it more though, because I don't want to mar your insightful thread about social networking with a discussion of Steve Jobs and the patent wars.

I'm far more interested in what you have to say than what Steve Jobs has to say. The same goes for a great many people responding to your thread. There are lots of great ideas being shared here! :)
Amen +cedric jordan . FB seems to be trying to play catch up, reacting to every innovative thing that G+ has been coming out with. And that is why it will end up ceasing to remain. Google+ isn't myspace, and they've had plenty of past social network failures already to know enough not to get cocky (at least not for a long while)....
I think the really interesting stuff is the connections generated, not the content they produce. The content posted here is an attractor, but it is really interesting in what the content reveals about the nature of the social connections. you said :

"When you put these kind of people in a room, and deep level thinking takes place -- when a vision is revealed (even a shared vision, I don't believe in the idea that visions must come from a single individual), then you get something special. "

To me this is where the social network should go. Its about putting people in a virtual room who develop a shared vision. G+ should be that room. Its about getting those mixes right so that great visions are developed which then facilitate the products of those visions.

a bit abstract I know, but the possibility to create that dynamic in a "cloud crowd" is a mineable layer on top of ground floor social networks.
Yes, +John Zeweniuk , one of the things that are great in G+ is how it helps to develop people's ideas and the conversations between them, rather than being more about the individuals behind the ideas themselves.
I challenge your statement that most social networks would come up with ideas that G+ and facebook have now. If everything is so obvious why did myspace fail and why did we all feel so comfortable with G+ right from the beginning ?
I was really entusiastic about G+ and I think the G+ vision fits better with how I want to communicate. The problem (for me) is that many of my friends are not on G+ (they think facebook is enough). If too many users share my experience G+ activity will go down.
+Otavio Costa the conversations are the obvious content and G+ has a good dynamic for creating really good conversations which has a lot to do with the nature of the social connections. Facebook's social connections are of a different type and so the content that emerges reflects that. I see the development of re-configurable collaborative networks which are more emergent than specifically developed, but if Google manages how these networks are created by providing tools to discover and develop the kinds of social connections which stimulate great "visions" I see this going beyond casual conversation into the realm of a new opportunities for developing collaboration.
+Jonas Hermansson Maybe, in part, some of your friends are not as interested as you are on discussing the things you discuss in G+.

Maybe G+ and FB are really that different and a lot of people will not use both, or at least not for the same goals.
+Jonas Hermansson it seems to me that Google is developing different types of social connections than facebook. The fundamental connections on facebook are through who you already know on some level. Google+ has emerged connections around interest domains (especially photography) and the actual connections can range from loose one to many connections through to more in depth one to one.

Facebook builds the network you already have Google+ builds the one you'd like

In terms of attracting facebook users I don't think its about making G+ do facebook better than facebook. They are providing a fundamentally different experience. They should seek to maximize that difference and develop a superior experience to attract users rather than make themselves a facebook replacement....
+John Zeweniuk , I guess great visions are made real and shared by others, through the use of simple tools, like the talk itself.

I hope, as I think you also do, that Google can implement more tools that help people have and develop their visions by interacting, not only like they already do here in G+, but being able to organize, search and "distribute/broadcast" their ideas in a way that makes easy to people to be around visions and projects rather than around posts bits.

Sorry if a am not being clear enough as I think my English skills are somewhat limiting my ability to express what I think about such elaborate thoughts.
Tom, I think you should just start another social network -- or else someone from THIS one should nab you somehow and have you turn this thing inside out. It doesn't really surprise me that this one is ebbing, and I feel that within Twitter to a lesser extent -- and Facebook is probably on the brink of it as well.

I joined, what was it, 12 years ago? It seemed like a fun thing, but the people who made it just didn't have a great vision for it. Friendster amped up the excitement factor a bit, but MySpace really broke it all out -- once you realized you didn't have to just "friend" people you already knew -- that felt like the key toward expansion. Don't know someone, but would like to? Just friend them, and then get to know 'em!

I could chat on what went "wrong" with MySpace over time -- but the core essence of it was what was right, and I don't think anyone's really tapped into that energy ever since. It had a large FUN element. I don't think Facebook really has that. Probably a little bit of it was the edgy, anarchic feel with MySpace, whereas Facebook felt more sanitized.

G+ feels like someone thought, okay, we need a tree -- and we need to decorate it with this and this and this. So it's new and has a different sort of functionality, and it's from Google -- so it drew people in at first -- but what's to keep them? You're right -- its best asset is the users who are participating. But the thing is -- it seems like no one's considering that rather than figuring out how to further decorate the tree -- maybe they shouldn't have used a tree to begin with.

It really needs a whole different feel. Yes, it could be a Google product, the way YouTube is -- but imagine alternately thinking about joining Amazon Plus, Ebay Plus, Mapquest Plus, or whatever -- would you really figure that it's "the next big thing," or just an offshoot niche thing? They should've created something with a whole other name, like maybe -- or almost ANYthing else! The basic site is like an empty box with nothing especially charming about it.
Very thought provoking post, as usual, +Tom Anderson. There does seem to be a fair amount of 'flattery' going on between Google and Facebook just now. It's perhaps a good thing that Facebook are actually taking some steps, finally, to make changes to things like privacy and how content is shared. It seems, even if G+ turns out to dwindle in the future, it has at least given Facebook a wake up call, for now.

I would argue, however, that this is simply them trying to mitigate the possibility of people switching wholesale over to G+ and they have a very valuable business to protect. I think the point many miss is that you can't persuade your friends and family to move over here from Facebook. It's pointless. They have to have a compelling reason to move and I believe, in reality, that most Facebook users would say they are happy overall with it, especially if they have a large real-life social or family network. They can put up with the irritation of their parents/in-laws being on it, as long as most of their friends are on there. The first thing they see when they try out G+ is the empty stream (apart from the person who invited them's posts, assuming they figured out how to add them to a circle ;-) ). I still have friends who are on G+ who I see have no Tom Andersons, no Trey Ratcliffs, etc etc in their circles, even though I know some of them would find the posts very interesting. No one except the small number of real-life people they know. No wonder some would-be-converts think G+ has no point and 'not much is going on here'.

Facebook will undoubtedly dwindle in the future (although 'dwindle' relative to 750m users is obviously different to 5m), but it will not be until the 16-30 year olds decide Facebook is no longer cool (something that product managers and software developers cannot engineer - well, unless it's Apple and, even then, they got lucky when they diversified with iPod - I doubt they'd be anywhere near where they are today if they still were Apple Computer Inc).

Interestingly, I received the 'we're still alive' email the other week from Diaspora (which I was genuinely interested in trying out). I hit 'unsubscribe' on the email - G+ already got there first for me guys, sorry...
+Otavio Costa I agree. Posts are like atoms of content, it'd be great to see some facility to build some molecules and compounds so to speak.

Twitter developed or at least popularized the streamed content which facebook worked into their system and Google+ now uses. Blogging really pre-imagined this stream concept with its regular stream of fresh content.

The stream is a great construct but it has its limitations and perhaps we need some other content presentation metaphors additionally...
This reminded me of something I believe was said by Alexander Graham Bell regarding how even the inventor has no idea how his invention will be used and if they say do, they're lying. So there's vision and hope for where you see your idea/product and then there's the reality of how the masses use it.

It's clear that both Apple and Google are companies of vision. Both will take a loss to reach the bigger end goal. For example, Google offering Android OS as a free license as a way to increase revenue from mobile search and ads. Or Apple taking a loss on hardware sales to increase opportunities on aftermarket sales (iTunes store, App Store, and their other devices).

Still vision only goes so far. Apple has had some great ideas, but they are also great on adapting those ideas to mesh with how the customer actually uses their products. So far Google+ has been great about listening to it's users and now Facebook is starting to take from Google+. The reality is this listening only proves a responsiveness of the players and very little about their vision or how any of this fits in with that vision. For that only time will tell.
+Octavio Costa The thing is a a lot of people can not be bothered with managing more than one social network and they mostly choose facebook as its the biggest one. The reach is very important for a lot of people.
+Robert Francis I think this must be true to some extent with a social network. If you insist that your users use it according to a preconceived vision with no flexibility to respond to how your users want to use it you will just marginalize and frustrate them and they will leave.

Having said that I would hope that there is a larger vision here beyond just "let's figure out how to raise more ad revenue"
I don't want to start some Apple vs Google, or Android vs iOS debate, but maybe what is going to develop G+ in the direction that we really want is Google's "open" business nature, instead of controlling to much it usually gives tools (and maybe some vision/directions) and, with APIs and initiatives it makes so that the users define the product.

There are many Chorme extensions already and many G+ related extensions. I guess that, as soon as people start to use the APIs that are coming, we will see good ideas coming to life and enhancing the collaborative aspect of G+ discussions.

Maybe those things are already beginning as we can find some info about in here, for example.

Yes +Luke Carey G+ is still in its early stage, maybe a few more tools can start to help us to build the molecules of G+ communication/collaboration, +John Zeweniuk .

Maybe this is a "vision"
Sure, +Jonas Hermansson. I think most people does not want to make any effort of any kind unless they have sufficient reward for that.

There are lots of reasons for people to be on FB. And, in my opinion, the biggest one right now is just to not be out of it. There are lots of people who never post at FB and that rarely log in there. I am sure that FB and G+ are quite different and, maybe, we should not compare the social nets to much.

G+ is just at its beginning and we are yet to see what will be the reasons for people to come abroad.

I see the greatest potential for G+ on developing circles around ideas, interests and projects rather than around people. Maybe there is where the reward will come from to those people who come to G+ at some point in time.
Fbs bandpage reach is far greater but for me I'm finding so many interesting discussions taking place on G+ which I'd never found on FB. Too many tacky apps, clubs, cafes, farms and event invites on fb and same old status updates. I keep both going because FB is still bigger and my close friends will not accept the change to G+ yet.
Chan Li
Well . FB is absolutely copying . How can you guys not aware ???? Truth is truth ,no matter how much you love fb and to protect it . 
I feel like Facebook is becoming the new-new Myspace. The simplicity of Myspace made it so accessible/appealing in the beginning. When 2.0 launched/apps were introduced/everything became an advertisement then the simplicity was lost. The fun was gone. Facebook launched with simplicity and is slowly becoming more and more complex while also becoming easier to get away from. I check mine about once every 3 days because I don't want to see what apps are around. FB fears Google+ and will do whatever it takes to match it. Advantage to google for having a better idea of their target audience and executing these ideas first. 
I hope they don't try to become the same thing tbh. Now I would almost compare them to two types of newspaper and I like them is broadsheet and one is tabloid?? Neither are wrong and both serve a purpose for whatever mood I'm in.
But at the end of the day they are within the same medium. Online social networking.

McDonalds as the big mac, Burger King has the whopper. One had to come first. Whichever you think is better is strictly up to you.

In social networking, it will eventually work the same. But expect them to carry very similar/identical features to their competitors.

Google+ is being driven by the users. Google is providing the infrastructure but the users are taking it in a completely different direction to Facebook. There will be a place for both networks, I believe. Family and friends have largely decided not to come over to G+ but that doesn't matter because I can still talk to them there. In G+, it's a whole new world of people sharing their ideas in a manner that suits them (and suits me). I look at my stream now and I am staggered by the creative flows in here. It's wonderful to watch.
Gator, you have to realize that the only people on G+ right now are the people who are truly intrigued by G+.

Once it goes public, you'll start seeing the flow of immature teenagers coming over to clutter streams with how much they hate their parents, etc. It was the same way with Facebook in the beginning. As it grows, it will become more and more saturated with the uninteresting.

18+ to sign up. And the little darlings will get bored. Not enough flashy, blingy things on here to hold their attention.

My original comment spoke on this fear of change. I like google plus just the way it is. With that said, I loved Facebook's old layout, MySpace 1.0, and the old twitter. 
Kayla: yes. So much yes. I hope this happens. I want both to co-exist. I am just afraid history shows otherwise. MySpace was left for the high schoolers while adults/college students used Facebook. Just the other day I cleared out 5 invites to events where kids looking to be high schoolers were adding each other by the thousands promising "2000 friend requests per hour" and I instantly lost faith in Facebook.

Steve Jobs also said good artists create art, great artists steal it. While he was working his artists 90 hours a week to copy Xerox's inventions, not that Xerox did much to stop them. The problem with that man is he thinks he's unique and special when really he's just a thief that knows how to speak to the elitist in us all. So yes, everyone is copying one another, taking an idea and tweaking it. If that's the case why is there so much copyright litigation going on? 
Pretty much all the great ideas were reinventions of previous good ideas. Take the Ford T-model for instance. Henry Ford didn't invent the car, nor did he invent assembly lines, but he did put those two together and reinvented the whole industry.

Creation needs inspiration and the resulting innovation is inevitable.
no human can live alone and invent alone, it's all made by humanity...
Wow! That was deep! I feel a little more intelligent after reading this post. Lol. I agree. G+ does balance simplicity and intellectual posts. I just wish more of my friends would make the jump.
+Q. Davis I wholeheartedly agree
Going to steal this post and share it....
Great post +Tom Anderson. I want to respond in full, but I'm sitting at work right now (I can read while at work only in limited time --- for example, right now: waiting for attorney's and my judge to finish talking in chambers allows me to read stuff online, because I have to sit here ready to go on the record at a moment's notice anyway).

For a short response though, I think we all have our own vision for Google+ ... at least, I know I do. One could perhaps make the argument that all these little individual visions fall under the overarching vision Google has for Google+ as a whole.

I've never even thought about some of the ideas you write down here, and they touch the very fundamentals of philosophy -- something I like very much. Thanks for making me think :-)

I can say, Google+ has been the first social network I've used where I was afforded a unique vision of my own, or rather, formed my own vision of what I want to get out of it. I got that through some of the stuff you talk about here. Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (no offense, hehe) haven't done that for me -- they seemed more like a confusing "free for all" where the only "vision" I got from those networks was more or less conform to the norm of what behavior my peers were demonstrating. Almost like "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." The fault there, lies on myself ... something I'll elaborate on later.
In his Stanford graduation ceremony speech he mentioned how much Microsoft had stollen from Apple. So when Apple is stealing it's okay, but when anyone else does it it is wrong? hmmmmm
Peter G
Wondering what those zoologists may have contributed to Mac as we know it today.
Google+ real name policy has driven away several of my friends, and stopped others from joining. It needs to be fixed, or G+ will never become mainstream.
I'm going to go with the people. And I don't think Google planned this.
It may seem obnoxious or indeed separatist but I would like G+ to close the doors. Facebook's 750 million users are liable to ruin the oasis of intelligence and creativity that G+ is, if they ever get here.
I think both Facebook and Google+ have vision problems but since I love Google+ more and you are asking for feedback, I am expressing mine here.

1) Google may have a grand plan for Google+. But the "plan"/"agenda" expressed by Eric Schmidt in his Edinburgh Q&A is troubling to put it most diplomatically. What Eric said at MediaGuardian Edinburgh International TV Festival, to me, seems like Google (with Google+) wants to be our Police, Judge, and Jury ! Never a good combo of power to be given all together to one single entity. This is what I wrote in Sept 1st, for the record.

2) The vision of Facebook may be to have us sharing as much of our personal data, photos, videos as possible and then lock these info of ours up in Facebook, and then sell personal ads targeting us or worst attach our names to those ads as if we endorse the products.
+Tom Anderson This is probably the best article you've ever written. Have you ever written about what killed, or what you think killed MySpace and led to FaceBook's rise to power? I ask this because I feel that studying the past is the key to understanding future events, and I do think that a certain audience (okay, I'll just say it, KIDS/TEENS) NOT being on G+ is what's currently missing from it becoming a "mainstream" success. Kids (and I range this anywhere between the age of 13 and 18 - the high school years) REALLY wanted to be on FaceBook and from my experience, they couldn't wait to get a College email so that they could ditch their MySpace and join by around 07. Kids dictate pop culture in my opinion (feel free to argue this, anyone), but why does the G+ community seem to be happy about this missing audience?

Finally, I suspect that Google's "brand" reputation among intellectuals and their 18 & up restriction -- these two things alone -- may have been a key element that's allowed this community to flourish

Is it flourishing? The arguments between +Mike Elgan and The Scob hinge on the idea that only losers post on G+ (Scob's words), it might or might not be slow and boring, and what it needs to do to be "successful"; and by successful, I guess they mean "beat Facebook". In spite of loving G+, I hate this developing reputation that G+ is for "intellectuals" because it gives off an elitist tone, a tone that's not yet deserved and I don't think should be attached when G+ is the underdog here. The good thing about circles is that if/when Justin Bieber and his Beliebers are allowed to join the network, we would never have to know because they would never be in our circles to begin with, and vice versa - kids won't be bored because they won't have to deal with The Scob or some boring tech bloggers as long as their circles consist of friends, fans, and celebrities such as the stars from The CW Network.

So to answer your question, I don't believe for a second that this "brand reputation" was created by Google itself, but is being pushed by the current community. This reputation might end up being bad for Google because even if they want to fashion themselves as an "identity services" for advertisers, they can't fully do this when an entire group of consumers is alienated because the users here want to think they are some kind of intellectual elite in comparison to users of other sites.
I think there's too much about "features" per se. If Feature X is here and not there, that's probably only relevant to a fraction of a % of the real population.

The better measure, I'd say, is how effective is Platform X in helping a user accomplish his or her goals? So if I were to say my goal is publish and consume content, I believe G+ enables this better than any platform I've ever used, except the Web itself. I feel that's one of the important things Egan touches on-- G+ will be much more effective at this because Google has a very deep and vested interest in accessible data.
Facebook is adding a lot of things that people find useful on Google+. By the time G+ opens up to the public, the people using Facebook will have a hard time telling, "What's new" about it.
I can call myself a Facebook refugee, driven out by advertising that seemed impossible to block. Sure I tried to find ways but when it comes down to it fb really does not have the helpful community that Google has. Choose any of Google's products that you don't understand and ask a question on the help forum. You will get responses from people like you that know what your'e going through and even Googlers participate. I think that's the difference, G+ is not just a social networking tool for you and your friends but a foundation for all the other Google services to integrate into and a community with the goal of making all our lives better.
The more I use G+, the longer I find my comments and posts become. Infact, stepping back and looking at the content I'm posting and how I'm posting it, it seems more like a blog or a forum smashed into a social network than facebook/twitter style which reminds me almost of an instant message sort of thing. On facebook I don't write in depth, I don't tackle complex ideas... it's small-talk, mostly.

The way I use G+ is totally different. I think, I write, I communicate ideas. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it's like a blog, except I don't forget about it and I have dozens of others at my fingertips, or it's like a forum, except it's visual and human-centric.

Facebook as more users, and more user content, but I feel like on average a piece of content from G+ tends to be more meaningful than your average piece of content on facebook. (For example, on facebook my feed is full of "person x just said y" and "I'm here and this just happened to me". My G+ stream is full of thought provoking things like this post from Tom. Worlds of difference.)
I think it's a bit unfair to say that one of the reasons Google+ has good discussion is because of the 18+ restriction. Surely if there are people that you don't want to talk to you don't add them to your circles, simple as that?
+Glen Ashman The quote "Thanks, but no thanks, I’d rather go to the club that already has my friends and all the hot women I want to stalk." from the article you linked kind of says it all. I think we can safely ignore what that guy has to say.
+Mary Jacobs I'd agree, but that seems to be changing for FB - with the "subscriber" model, it's becoming more of a place to follow and eventually meet people.
Dammit, Tom, if I had known you were so awesome I wouldn't have freaked out and tried to close my MySpace account when you auto-friended me ten years ago.
I just don't think Google+ is all that special. I think the real competitor to facebook is still in the works.
+Tom Anderson great post and the thoughts behind it. Google has never had a prescriptive vision as such about anything apart form creating an open, widely shared platform. This has been their downfall in some regards (Buzz, Google Wave) and their strength in others Google Docs, GMail. They tend to create with a light hand when it comes to how to use things and then evolve things based on the data and feedback they collate. In that they are a little unusual but the process tends to work as many times as it fails. Thank you for creating the post which highlights the philosophy of sharing.
+Mary Jacobs I totally agree. While FB will likely always remain the place to check up on your friends, family, etc., I think G+ is developing as the place to "meet" and engage with new people.
This is not necessarily by design. In fact, the whole "circles" concept may matter less and less if most people end up engaging publicly. As of now, I post only to close family and friends or publicly, nothing really in between.
Tom Lee
What has been going on out there in the last couple of weeks seems to elevate FB status after a few tweaks FB made copying Google + formula trying to protect their turf. I don't doubt that FB PR machine is running in full speed. Google PR engine has been quiet. Many of us here are either G+ early adopters, FB haters, or FB lurkers. At this point I think the FB lurkers on G+ have returned back to follow Justin Bieber on FB. The ones that are still here are the ones that really see the value of this platform. I hope G+ are going to build and expand on this core group, then expanding into others. A quick question for you is that if you've left your ex- to be with a new love that gives you a better life, would you go back if your ex said he/she would change ?
Copy G+ circles ... Paste FB stealing is good...
I like G+ it is very good and much better than Facebook and the people that post are (mostly) intelligent. Just wait though until Apple enter the arena - be scared, be very scared.
The best description I've seen of Google+ "strategy" is that G+ is going after content creators -- which will attract people with passionate interests (as opposed to "friends"). To make this vision reality, G+ should aim for being the gathering place for every club, group, hobby list, etc. What this will mean is a way to find people of similar interests, a way to organize those people (at least as much as a Little League team or book club would need -- calendar, private documents, shared links), a way to designate leaders or content experts, a way to share "follow lists," etc. And a way for companies to participate (or found groups of their own -- i.e., user groups). Google and Yahoo Groups suck. Twitter is too short form for passionate conversations. Facebook is great for support, not so great for sharing information. Google+ can and should be different. And, because it's google, people searching for info on the web should have a natural way to become part of the conversation when and how they need to.
Tom, I love G+ too but using it for blogging in it's current state is providing a not-so-great user experience. Currently there is no way to view previous older posts [archives] without going through your entire stream, post by post.

I love reading your posts. I wish you had your own personal blog to read from that was made for blogging. Hopefully down the road G+ will create some sort of post archive to better handle older post lookups. Thanks, Dave. 
Plutocracy is rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth. The combination of both plutocracy and oligarchy is called plutarchy.

this is currently happening around the world, were the top 5% have the same wealth as the bottom 95%

this needs to change, educate yourself as a bare minimum or join the fight
Amazing article, found it via a +Natalie Villalobos share. Thank you for writing it, Tom. I agree on your assessment of the current G+ vision. Will be interesting to see where it goes from here.
I agree. With the demise of your once burgeoning Myspace to the commercialized poop shoot that it now has become and Facebook's ever changing updates when they don't fix the issues at hand it's a bit all underwhelming and annoying at the same time. stop focusing on the WYSIWYG aspect and work on the functionality of the network itself and it's ease of use.
i just want them to make it easy to find sexy people.
Jobs left Apple is a great pity that I think.
Funny how I see a 1+ on friend activity on pages though hmmm
i just wanna be able to understand what i'm using, thats all i want and most people want i think.
It will be quiet interesting to see what all of the visions will bring to the future. Am enjoying the format of Google+ and the extended posts, it is just another format of sharing ideas and updates...
There is no such thing as an original idea. Every idea is sparked by other ideas that came before.
You hit the nail on the head – visions do change, some over a shorter period and others over a longer period as we learn from our experience and evolve.
Looks like this is a really great thing to share your thinkings, In my opinion G+ has potential, if it don't, may be those intelligent people loose his money ( i don't think so)
De todas maneras, es una red social interesante, +Tom Anderson you have yob for me?
so why is apple suing everyone from shapes to gestures
+Otavio Costa I agree that the philosophizing is great, but if Google isn't working on killer business tools that leverage the architecture, they're nuts. To analogize, FB is MS-DOS and G+ is Mac OS; FB can keep strapping on feature/function, but they are hobbled by the original framework. Google + has the chance to be something very different.
+Tom Anderson You often write a book when you post but your insight is so spot on that people are missing out if they don't take the time to read them through.
I have used facebook as a network to connect myself with the outside world when I couldn't, to introduce people for various reasons such as looking for places to live or as simple as connecting them for the likes of tupperware for the games and to allow other to connect to me while traveling. Facebook has an age limit but who polices this? Who will police this for Google +? One of my sisters has three kids and each of them have at least two accounts each plus one for their dog. From what I can see so far of Google + the invite only element created a need to join having to sign up to Gmail was a pain but at a time when facebook is becoming more commercial in that people are now using it as a platform to promote what the are selling and generally things I am not looking for such as children's clothing. To me right now there are still a lot of people selling on Google+ but the network is beyond the scope of people you went to school with you can connect to sadly not too many of my connections are interested in coming over and having a look and those that have have found that there is little content to keep them interested. Maybe with the way in which facebook is alienating their audience at the moment may change my friends habits and we can connect on here.... Oh and cheers to the lengths of posts and not feeling like a tool for not using abbreviations!
Was Jobs justifying Samsung Galaxy S II stealing the iPhone's 'look and feel'?
Tom you make me all warm and fuzzy
I'm a big Google fan, and I have been for a while now, but hearing tonite that they partnered up with Fox News has me questioning whether I understand them as a company at all. I mean, doesn't that go against the whole "Don't Be Evil" thing?
Now Google and Facebook are fighting against Each other. It is True that Facebook lunched its new version F8. But Face book Facing new Problem. Face Book Was banned in Pakistan. So Millions of FB user Away from FB. It is going to start from October 6, 2011
Great post, Tom! To answer your question:

"Or is the greatest "feature" of Google+ right now the users themselves?" I'd say this is the proper answer ... and Google, for paying attention and taking our feedback for new features. What are we doing with the site that they did not intend? How can they facilitate those things if they're "good" things? How are things they want us to be doing blocked from UI problems?

I'm loving G+, where I've started growing a network of people far outside my "core" and I really feel home here.

We'll see how Facebook does with the competition, which it really needed. It's not going anywhere; I think somehow there will be room for both.

Thanks again for a very thoughtful post.
I do not know for a fact, but I would think that in the world of "Social Networking", any site's "vision" is always changing. Times change so for any site that is involved with the current views of society to not always be in a state of change in reflection of societywould be a bad think. This is only my opinion but I like how +Tom Anderson stated his opinion of Google+. This is a very interesting post, seeing as how someone that beget the whole social networking scene is now, or maybe always have been, one of us. Another interesting point about this post is MySpace not being included in the discussion.This is something I feel is deserved as to me, MySpace has lost it's focus. Last time I was on MySpace, I was annoyed as the lasting thought I have is that it is just a huge site dedicated to spam. The page also loads very slow and it is also too busy. Takes forever to load in comparison with any other site. I left MySpace a long time ago and rarely look back since the bad things have outweighed the good things.

I sincerely believe that "Social Networking" sites are the way of the future and it is embedded within society. One great example is my creation of a group on Facebook for the employees of the place I work. The reason behind this is for employees to be able to post their shifts they are wanting to give up or shifts they are looking to work. This is a very successful group and I would not be surprised if companies started making apps on facebook for such purposes. This poses me a thought, since I am a developer, why don't I just make a shift exchange app. Well, I guess if I worked in IT for my company, I would be more interested in such a project. Hmmm.... Maybe I will bring this up with my 2nd job since they are in a state of growth.
Sorry, I'm going to be lazy and um, not read 191 comments. But I can see +Daniel Gormley's. I find this interesting too. Certainly at the moment, using Google+ has its challenges for me - I basically don't have any friends...

I am not entirely convinced that the space that's in the process of being created is the one I've been longing for since the demise of Myspace (as I see it). However, Google+ does have that radical edge of the thing-in-becoming, a sort of chrysalis format, a currency.

I'm frustrated that it has obvious limits in ways I was rather hoping it wouldn't (I haven't used it for 6 weeks or so at least, since I set my account up), I would say there IS a certain openness of sorts here.

I would argue the platform is more suited to people who are creative professionals, at the moment, than for regular people who would like to converse with anyone, regardless of background.

For instance, you (+Tom Anderson ) could be saying all the things that you are saying now, which ARE interesting. But were it not for your fame/social media profile, I don't know how people would find you (i.e. a person of your interests, without your fame), because of the structure here. (For instance, unless it has changed, no way to network over interests per se.)

To find you, Tom, if you weren't famous, I think I would HAVE to see you making a comment on someone else's page that was compelling enough for me to click on your profile - I think that's the only way, for now.

When there are multiple comments, picking out interesting comments is more difficult.

I would like there to be other avenues to an interesting profile.

BUT, it's new.

+Tom Anderson, another post you've made here, about baseball, kind of proves my feeling about Google+ or what I hope it to be, but I'm not really sure whether it will work for the average person. I do wonder whether this idea of the "public square" you mention, is in practice more to do with the engagement of a "general public" with a "speaker", which in this case is you.

Rather than the "general public" talking amongst ourselves, as such.

But nonetheless it demonstrates what I'm hopeful about when it comes to Google+.

One of the key limitations of Facebook, to me, is the frame of the status update. I'm not saying this to make a point of dissing Facebook, per se, although it has pissed me off for a very long time. It's about space, and it's about mode of expression, and the terms in which you couch your own ideas. I don't know if "couch" is the best verb to use there - I'm sort of using it to mean a form of necessary limitation. To me, it's not just about the fact that there's f*ck all space there to say anything very substantial in a status update, although you can in subsequent comments. There's a kind of discursive brevity there, if you like, that frames the idea of what you can say.

Facebook, as a structure, as an idea, to me, does not support creative expansion. It favours a kind of glib show-and-tell, which is fine (I've pretty much replicated the same thing on my page - all I've done is post a Youtube video, with an accompanying sentence). But your baseball post, for example, was quintessentially expansive. In fact, you even pointed out people were saying "you don't have to explain" - but that it was your pleasure to do so. Sometimes more really is more - if only for the person trying to engage express themselves and engage with others. What I'm trying to get at here is probably best paralleled with what you refer to as "vision". I don't think Facebook's vision, then, or now (as it tries to update itself to compete with a potential threat), includes the kind of writing that you've issued above. In particular, the direct, forthright polemic. It's not just about the size of the box you're writing in, is it?

You're a fascinating figure here for many reasons, partly because your Google+ persona is both so different and yet so connected with your Myspace persona. You're really open here, and the expansiveness is kind of surprising, in the best way. Yes, Google+ is something potentially different. I think this specific public square, as it were, right here on your page, is very unique, because there's a kind of melted-down-ness of multiple social networks bubbling away here like an experimental brew. I don't know if it can transcend the limits I indicated, but there's something different here.
+cat aphanisis >> no way to network over interests per se<<

Use the search box up top. Search for your interests. Read through the results. Circle folks who share your interests. Most importantly: make an effort to comment substantively on their posts/shares.

If you do this you will find your circles become worthwhile and tailored to those topics/interests you desire.
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