six days of Google+
there seem to be roughly two types of people here;
(a) "the facebook crowd"
(if you are one of those and wonder why you get this post; you might want to delete me from your circles )
those that expect it to work like facebook, i.e. "ah, someone added me, i must know him/her, hence i add him/her as well",
and then they are in for a surprise when posts from someone they do not know ends up in their stream.
(b) "the twitter crowd"
those that expect it to be like twitter, i.e. "i add whoever might be interesting, if their posts aren't particularly interesting, I will delete them later on"
and then they will see family photos of the person they added in their stream, which is not really what they wanted.
Google+ is not necessarily one or the other, but at the moment my view is that it is more similar to twitter than facebook.
Without the "following strangers" element, I do not see it as much different to Facebook, and I am not convinced that we really need yet another social network to keep track on.
Apart from friends, people i know etc, I have added people that look like they might be interesting (e.g. they are well known techy people, they work at some interesting company, posted something that I found interesting, etc).
I also created a "random circle", where I as an experiment threw in random people; usually people I found in the circle of someone I found interesting; the theory being "if that person is interesting, he/she might know other interesting people as well, so maybe I discover new interesting people that way, if I can filter out the rest somehow".
Since this is a new website one simply has to try out how it can be useful, but without filtering there is too much noise in the "random circle", so that idea is gonna go in the bin (along with the circle).
But, the problem is not only the noise in the "random circle"; the noise is also high in my "tech" circle;
E.g. let's say I follow someone that works at Google that is a well known software engineer, but I don't know that person.
That person might post a really good post about his view on some new technology once per week. But, the person also posts 9 posts per week
with photos of his dog, what movies he watched, checkins where he is at the moment, comments about what he had for lunch etc etc.
For me, as a stranger, I am only interested in the techy bit, and not the rest, so I will get 1/10 interesting posts from that person.
Now, say you have 20 persons like this in the circle, it would mean I get 20 interesting posts per week and 180 (to me) uninteresting posts; there will simply be too much noise.
Don't get me wrong; it is not the person that is in the wrong with these posts;
the very same person might be in some other "followers" circle called "movie buffs",
and that follower will get 1/10 postings that are interesting to him (the post about movies) and 9/10 postings that he is not interested in.
So, it really depends on the perspective of the follower.
Can we solve this somehow?
First, regarding the facebook vs twitter view;
at the moment it is creepy;
- the people that expect it to be like facebook will have strangers comment on their posts, or they will see posts from strangers in their stream.
- the people that expect it to be like twitter, e.g. added some person for their technical posts, will get a lot of noise when that person is writing about what they had for lunch, photos of his dog/children/vacation, where they are and so on.
Google could adjust the default settings, so that the default posting mode is only to the "Friends" circle, i.e. when someone post they have to deliberately add other circles if they want it to be more public.
That would at least be a start to prevent people from posting to the world when they really just want to share with their friends,
and make the transition from "facebook"-thinking into "google+"-thinking more smoothly.
To make the transition even easier, Google could add a checkbox: "people can only add me to their circles if i approve", that way everyone is in full control who they want to let in.
Regarding people/circle management:
At the moment, I will see that people adds me, but I don't know why.
If they have a photo and a name, I have half a chance figuring out from where (or if) I know them (still bloody hard since I cannot recall peoples names),
if they have Dilbert as a photo and call themselves "The Dude", I have no chance and assume the person is a total stranger, even though that person added me since we used to be colleagues.
An idea could be:
at the moment people can add on their "About" page what they look for e.g. "friends", "networking" etc.
If that could be custom, so I could enter whatever attributes that I am interested in, e.g. "tech people", "movie buffs", "people i know",
and when someone wants to add me to their circle, they would see a message:
"This person is interested in 'tech people', 'movie buffs', 'people i know', which one(s) apply to you?".
The person would tick the matching boxes, or if nothing applies; write a short line why that person should be interesting to me.
That way, when someone adds me, I will get a hint where that person is coming from, how they relate to me, and either add them or ignore them.
Also, if people tick boxes when they add me, they could automatically be categorized;
all the ones that tick "movie buffs" comes into a circle "incoming: movie buffs".
Maybe too complicated and nerdy for mainstream though.
Regarding the noise in the streams;
Google could add links:
"more/less posts like this"
where one can signal which kind of posts one likes and Google could try to implement logic that filters out the less interesting ones.
A bit tricky, since it all depends on the circles.
E.g. I do like to see vacation photos from my friends, but not total strangers; so the feedback must be applied individually for each circle (which would mean it would take long time to train the logic what i want).
Google could also throw filter by keywords/#hashtags into the mix.
E.g. I enter a list of keywords/#hashtags that are interesting to me; "c++", "python", "ruby" etc, and I can apply this filter to my tech circle, and only posts where these keywords exist in will be visible to me. Might be a bit too nerdy for mainstream as well though.
This is of course only my view;
you and others have probably a total different view on how Google+ could work, so Google has to figure out how to make everyone half-way happy, but it feels like it all is a bit too general and too little restriction going on here at the moment.
After the first week, in conclusion:
I am less excited about Google+ than a week ago, but I expect Google to roll out more features, so I haven't written it off as "another google wave" just yet.