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Joshua Taranowski
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I posted this almost exactly four years ago:
I have decided that from now on New Year's Eve will be my new Thanksgiving.

Why not? If my Dad can move his birthday to July, what prevents me from arbitrarily rearranging holidays of my own? Chalk it up to sort of inherited family quirkiness if you must. What's wrong with having my Thanksgiving at the point where one year ends and the new year is just beginning? Does anyone dare complain?

Please understand that by celebrating Thanksgiving on New Year's I am not attempting to disrespect that long-standing November holiday. Quite the contrary!

I have always been a fan of the traditional November Thanksgiving. It is an American staple. I look forward to getting together with friends and family, and there is a special place in my heart for turkey and mashed potatoes. Fall is probably my favorite season with its bright orange and red, the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet and the feel of the cool crisp air.

But I do not think crunching leaves, crisp air, mashed potatoes or even turkey and gravy make a real Thanksgiving.

If Thanksgiving means looking back at the story that is your life and feeling a profound and deep sense of gratitude, then New Year's Eve is probably the best day for me.

For us, New Year's Eve is already two holidays. My wife and I celebrate our 'Meetaversary' on that day because we met four years ago on New Year's Eve.

Four years ago on New Year's Eve I met the woman who would later become my wife, and later still become the mother of our baby boy.

New Year's Eve, Meetaversary, Thanksgiving -- they are the same thing to me; because there is nothing that fills me with such a deep and enduring sense of gratitude as having met my wife.

Curling up next to her I have trouble imagining how lonely, lost and unhappy my life would be if our paths had not crossed that night.

The years have doubled (tomorrow will mark eight years since we met), our boys have doubled (we now have two), and in every way way imaginable I am doubly grateful for everything that she is.

As this year comes to a close, I cannot help but take a moment to reflect once again, and smile as we celebrate our next Meetaversary. 

I just want to say for the record that my wife is amazing. I don't know how she does everything she does. 

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Hey you! ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME? You... You are following me...


No seriously. Why?

I do not post publicly. Instead, I post to specific topic-based circles. If you added me to a circle for some reason (based on a comment or some other post you saw reshared), please take a moment and fill out my online survey so I know which posts you want to see. Otherwise, get used to seeing little or nothing from me on Google+.

The results of this survey go to a private Google Docs spreadsheet that only I can see.

Why? I do this so that I can make certain the right posts get to the right people. While you might like some things that I post about, the odds are that you do not like everything I post about, so I give you the option to opt-in or opt-out.

If you added me, do me the favor of filling this out so that I know why you added me.

My appologies to those of you that already filled this out. I will not post publicly like this often, but I would like to see a few more people fill this out.

Thanks! --Joshua

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Opt-in or Out of my Posts based on Topic

I created a form on Google Docs that allows people to opt-in or out of my posts based on the post subject.

In this way I can create circles for publishing, and people that have added me to their circles will only see posts about the topics they are interested in.

Please fill out this Google Docs survey here in order to pick and choose what you would like to see moving forward. You can opt-into or out of original content as well as 'reshared' posts.

My current topics include:

I suggested using feedback that Google add what I was calling 'Subscribable Circles' a while back. Other users have posted similiar feature requests. I am hoping that a mechanism like this is available to all users soon.

- - - With thanks to M Sinclair Stevens who pointed out this Google Docs approach by Shaun Bridges - - -

Someone in my stream [+Dan Soto] posted that 99% of the people here are in the social media business.

This was my reply:

I am glad to be in the other category I suppose. That said, I imagine there are many others out there that you and I have yet to find.

Without public 'hubs'/contexts/aspects/hashtags/circles (or whatever it is G+ may ultimately introduce) it is easier right now to find people who are vocal in the Social Media space, than it is to find, say... someone interested in discussing international finance, currency deflation and stock bubbles [++Stocks]; the emerging science of food and the fallacy within the Key hypothesis [++Paleo] or the latest innovations in transplant surgery [++MedicalScienceNews]

At present we can add people we know, or people we happen to find through other people. Even then it is difficult to follow everything that they post as our interests and social circles do not perfectly overlap and everyone has multiple interests.

I am not a fan of many sports, but by electing to follow people who post about things I am interested in (and sports), I end up with all of these posts in my stream. I can use circles to filter the stream, but only by lumping every post from a person into one category. I can put you in my (GoogleTips), (FunnyLinks) and (BashingFacebook) circles; but I have no way to filter your posts so every one of them, including other posts end up in every circle.

Maybe you already have a deep interest in [++MedicalScienceNews]. Maybe you have a circle of people that you post information about that topic already and I am just not in that circle. Maybe I have a circle for [++MedicalScienceNews] that you'd love to join (but have no idea it even exists).

You and I could have a discussion, you could tell me your private circle names and I could tell you which ones to add me to; but that seems rather unlikely.

At some point I imagine there will be features for finding and filtering content in order to connect to people you would otherwise not have known.

Other social media sites have groups that people can search for and selectively join in order to post topic-centric information.

Heck, even the early Internet days had news servers with feeds like alt.topic.topic.topic. (Why I am suddenly thinking of +Wil Wheaton here I can not say). ;)

Perhaps someday you'll be able to opt-in to Taranowski.ScienceNews, but mute any post in Taranowski.Paleo or Taranowski.Stocks (and politely decline any Taranowski.BabyNews ).

Maybe then I will be able to opt-into or out of Soto.GoogleTips, Soto.FunnyPosts, Soto.RandomPosts.

Maybe we can even have this discussion on something as widely available as Public.GoogleTips.

Untill then, I have to decide what to post and who to post it to. I love the control that circles give me here; but I wish there was a way to tag my content and selectively filter or subscribe to other's content.

I still feel somewhat limited in what I can post in this space because it is still tailored towards the 'lowest common denominator'. I would be much more vocal about the many topics I am interested in, if I knew people could opt-in or subscribe to them.

Right now it feels a bit like people at a party getting to know one another. You have to talk about the weather and the idle chatter of the day instead of anything meaningful, because you can not find the people interested in a deeper discussion without risking offending everyone else in the room (and getting dropped from their circles because you've polluted their stream with information they are not interested in).

I do not mean to seem ungrateful. I am sold hook, line and sinker on this platform and think that even if nothing improved or changed that I would use this platform over anything else that is out there right now.

But...Having a taste of something better, we all begin to dream again.

Feature Request – Subscribe-able ‘circles’/hubs/’aspects’/’contexts’ or hashtags

While Circles themselves are fantastic for allowing me control over my post distribution, there is a need for a better tool for filtering post consumption.

Description of Problem:
I could theoretically create a circle for every interest that I had. Some of my friends might appreciate a link about Diet or Health. Others might want to know more about a particular sports team. Members of a church may be interested in more religious-focused posts. Only a subset of my friends with their own children may want to hear about anything related to kids. Some people might like celebrity gossip, others might like humorous videos.

These interests/aspects/contexts may span many of my existing circles, friends, close friends, work friends or acquaintances.

Using the current build, I could create my own context related Circles, possibly naming them things like C-Diet, C-Sports, C-Church, C-Kids, C-Celebrity, C-Humor.

I could pick and choose which of my friends I think might be interested in these topics and which ones might not. None of these circle names are public, so my friends would not know if they were in my C-Kids context-related circle or not.

If I guessed incorrectly I might send humorous posts to people that didn’t want to see them, or flood people that really don’t care (but may be too polite to say anything about it) with too many baby pictures.

I would like to see the ability to create more public circles. I imagine a public circle/context/aspect/hub would have these features and options:

Visibility: Select which Circles can see that this context-related circle even exists. Maybe I want to world to see it, but maybe I only want close friends (rather than work friends) to see I have a context-focused circle that can be joined.

AutoApprove: Select which Circles can auto-join this context/aspect/hub without my approval or moderation. In this way my friends can opt-in or out of my Diet/Nutrition related posts, Gaming posts, CrossFit posts, Humor posts or BabyPictures if I have created these aspects/hubs/contexts. These users can leave this context/aspect/private hub at any time.

RequireApproval: Select which Circles can still join, but only with approval from me. To be honest I feel this feature is less important at the beginning and may never be needed, but it is certainly an option. Things like BabyPictures seem a bit more sensitive to see who has subscribed to them as an example.

MembersVisible Selecte whether or not the names of the members are publishe and visible to other members. Or not. I would almost prefer this was always off.

Name: A short name of the circle

Description: A more detailed description of what I expect to post using this context/aspect

With these features, I could add aspects/context-related circles to my profile and users could opt into them.

I’ve met some interesting people as a result of Google+ already. Many of them have ‘circled me back’ and we are following each other; but I risk losing that connection if I post too many things into their stream that they have no interest in.

Using subscribe-able circles/contexts/aspects/hashtags to allow users to opt-into topics and select which posts they see would help to keep the stream from getting polluted and would allow people to post more content. Without these features people will resort to more ‘lowest-common-denominator’ posts like they do on other Social sites; and only post things that they consider broadly interesting to their larger circle of friends.

Business Impact:
There are business implications here as well. Corporate entities may wish to have multiple streams for different products, different services or different campaigns. Allow people to subscribe to public Circles for Progressive Insurance, Ford or other companies based on a specific product, interest, contest or campaign will make it more likely that people will opt-in for messages. By ensuring they are more tailored to the customer, a business entity has a better hope of remaining in a circle and their more context-specific posts reaching their customers.

I could see these context related circles being used either in conjunction with existing circles or instead of them. What I mean here is this. In an ideal world I could post to my WorkCircle and apply the C-Humor context. That may be more complicated, but works similiar to hashtags while still allowing me control of distribution. If that is too complex, I would have to resign myself to the fact than anyone could join a particular context-related circle/aspect if they were in the approved Circles to do so.

[Thanks for listening and feel free to contact me with any questions or further clarification]

Google+ T-shirts?

When I was in the Wave beta I wanted a Google Wave T-shirt more than anything. Now, of course, I want a Google+ T-shirt.

Is there such a thing?

Can one earn (or purchase one) some where?

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Feedback I've sent to Google so far:

Stream Filtering/Hashtags
1) Smaller Change: Change the buttons under the Stream on the left hand side so that multiple circles can be selected. Allow each circle to be enabled or muted. In this way I can filter my stream based on the circles that I have created. If there is a conflict, mute wins. Present functionality allows me to view a particular stream at a time, but not to use my circles to filter the entire stream.

2) Larger Change: Allow users to tag their content so that people in their circles can selectively mute it or follow it. I propose using ++ as a hashtag prefix. This was discussed in a Post by Sarah Pavis who proposed the idea of 'Hubs'
What I add to this hubs concept was this:

I know on that 'other' social site, I very much wish that people could already tag their posts with things like:
++SportIDontFollow, ++NewsStoryIDontCareAbout, ++GameIDontPlay, ++OpposingPoliticalParty

I would recipricate by tagging my posts as ++BabyPictures, ++ScienceNews, ++GeekHumor, ++PaleoDiet, ++CrossFit

In this way I could filter out my 'News Feed' and opt-out of posts on topics that I am just not interested in.

I would also feel better posting dozens of ++BabyPictures because people could mute these or unmute them if they wanted to.

The circles work well for limiting the base list of people that can see your post. The hubs or hashtags help to filter the stream.

These hubs or hashtags could be either public or private, and as +Sarah Pavis points out they would be distinct.

For example, the [Joshua Taranowski++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag is different than the [Sarah Pavis++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag. These could be two independant and private hubs that are only used by people in these circles to filter content they see in their stream from the people posting. {To be clear on this, I mean that when I use the ++Shakespeare tag in my post, it applies to my private hub, and when Sarah uses it, it applies to her private hub.}

The [Cleveland Playhouse's ++Shakepeare] hub/hashtag could be a public hub with corporate ownership, owned of course by the +Cleveland Playhouse theater, but visible to anyone that added [Cleveland Playhouse] to their circles and subscribed to the [Cleveland Playhouse's ++Shakepeare] stream.

The completely public and unmanaged [Public++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag would work like the pure Twitter hashtag, with no ownership and would be open to public posts by anyone.

As +Kevin Medeiros points out, the typical user could ignore hashtags alltogether, not be bothered and enjoy the more open and vicarous nature of the 'other' social network. Power users (and people with large fan bases or thousands of followers) could more acurately control both their incomming stream and the posts they push to users. I imagine when corporate people are on here, one user might want to see posts from [SlashDot++Apple] and other users might only want [SlashDot++Windows] rather than follow 'everything' that they posted.

( I was delightet to see +Eric Cattell actually post on Sarah's thread. )

3) Minor UI fixes
I submitted a few minor UI fixes, that were almost immediately addressed.

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Google+ Product Idea: Hubs

Right now there are several disconnects on Google+.
The main ones as I see it: intentionality, topicality, noise, curation.
IMHO Hubs would solve all these problems.

People share posts to limited groups but the people who see those posts might not immediately know why the post is being shared with them. Right now (maybe this will change?) Sparks are divorced from people, they're mostly a dumb Google Blog Search on topics (as a big GReader fan I'd love to see linkblog integration but that's a topic for another post). Having a way to allow discussion around a topic would be ideal (and I know would appease +Robert Scoble) And being able to center a discussion around a topic as opposed to a person or circle of people would reduce the noise and increase curation (a la Tumblr Explore).

A Hub would essentially be a subscribe-able public Circle. It would function like a group blog, Google Group, Tumblr Explore, Twitter List, hash tag etc. The same way you would add a Circle to a post, you could add a Hub. Or if you want to just add a Hub and no Circles, this would only push the content to people who follow that Hub (like an @reply on Twitter, only people who follow both you and the person you're directing your content to will see it.) i.e. Friends who follow the Hub would see your Hub-only share in their normal Stream, and anyone who follows the Hub would see your Hub-only share in the Hub stream, but wouldn't show up in the stream of your regular Circles.

Example: I have a bunch of comedy friends, we like to goof around and share funny videos and also put shows on together occasionally. If we were all members of a Hub, both us and our fans would have a central place to discuss things related to our comedy. Like with Facebook Fan pages or Tumblr Explore, Hub pages would have two tabs. One for posts by Hub members, the other for all posts to a Hub. The second tab would be like following a hash tag on twitter. Anyone (fans etc.) who have something interesting the Hub might appreciate could post there ("loved the show last month! here's a clip of the best sketch.") Hub members could reshare them to the front page of the hub ("if you didn't catch the show, check out this clip!"). Members of the Hub could also do Limited posts that only members of the Hub could see ("here's an article that has information I think would help our show's interstitials.")

And with G+ currently eschewing vanity URLs there could be any number of Hubs on similar topics which IMO is good because no one person/group could own a broad topic. You might find you like one Shakespeare Hub more than another.

A nomanclature note: Hub may be too close to Circle but I like the idea of the centrality of a Hub so w/e.

Separate but related product idea: Like publicly subscribebale Twitter lists, users would be able to create publicly visible Circles (e.g. "College Friends") as a way for friends new to G+ to do one-click circle creation. This would create an identically named and populated circle in this new user's Circle list that they could tweak and have be private and personal like normal Circles. This is more of a quick start way to help friends get their social networks up and running. These circles wouldn't be public and moderated like Hubs.

I don't work at google nor do I have any close friends who do, so I have no idea what their big plan is for G+, something like this may already be on their roadmap, it may not. This is just my fever dream of an idea of what I'd like to see.

The more I think about the way this works, the more I realize that this is actually Google Wave technology under the covers. If you were in Wave, most of these posts are just like Waves (without the history). Adding Circles to the Waves engine concept (and getting rid of the historical playback) is basically Google+ ... but so much better with this UI.
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