The Big Picture (Part 1/3)

How Circles Make People More Public

Here is an interesting thought, by giving people more options to be private are we making them more comfortable sharing things with the public?

To answer this question we need to look at Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has trained people to share things with a private circle of connections. While Twitter has trained people to share things publicly, even on occasions where it would be better not to. I have noticed that most people on Twitter are the kinds of people who want to say something in public while most people on Facebook just want to share things with their friends and nothing more. Every time I find a Facebook friend on Twitter its like, "Oh hey, what a nice surprise to see you all the way here. You care about venturing beyond your friend circle too?" Basically the kind of person who loves Facebook is generally speaking not the kind of person you will find tweeting about the latest political news or tech story. OK, so there are two types of people then right? Let's call them "public people" and "private people". Let's also keep in mind that "Public people" have private lives as well. This means that you will find "Public People" on both Facebook and Twitter while you will probably only find "Private People" on Facebook.

Now, a lot of people have been flocking to Google+ for multiple reasons. The most common ones are:
1) They are tired of Facebook's privacy problems. (running away)
2) They are excited about using Google+ Circles to better control their privacy. (running to)

Either way, these users are generally people who are looking for an alternative for a private networking experience like Facebook. That means when they come to Google+ they are expecting it to behave somewhat like Facebook. Remember when Google+ was revealed? Remember how many times people called it the Facebook killer and how rarely it was compared to Twitter? People naturally compared it to Facebook because the Circles concept spoke to all the frustrated users from Facebook and they assumed it was another private network.

So remember, people are expecting to use it like a private network. And so they start by putting people into circles. Close friends go here. Acquaintances go there. Famous people, like +Tom Anderson, can go in that circle. And so on.

Now here is the moment when the Private Person starts to become a Public Person. When they want to share something with their friends and acquaintances, they may bump into the following scenario.

"OK, let me just share this with 'My Circles'."
"Wait a minute, Tom Anderson is technically part of 'My Circles' but he's not an acquaintance so I can't do that."

Now, they can choose to just share with their friends and acquaintances circles or do this:

"Well, if I am willing to share this with my acquaintances, who I barely know, I might as well let other G+ users see my post. I might meet some cool folks and maybe even Tom Anderson." They select 'Public' and click share.

In summary, someone who has never shared anything publicly is more likely to do so on Google+. Google has set up the Circles, to make it extremely easy for people to share things publicly, the same people who would have not shared anything publicly on Facebook or Twitter.

I think Google+ has succeeded in something Facebook has struggled to do, which is make people more public. Nevertheless, its success in this realm will ultimately determine its fate as a public network, overthrowing Twitter instead. How? Well, for that, you will have to wait for Part 2 :)


Read Part 2:
Read Part 3:

So what do you think? Are you one of those people who have never shared anything in public until G+? Have you noticed that you have become more comfortable in a public environment? Have you always been a public person?
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