Sharing this with the Googlers I've encircled :)
Sharing universe

I'm trying to articulate here what's working and not working at the moment with circles. There are about four ways I connect with people both in real life and on the web. This is not about the things we do once we connect, it's about the ways I reach out to people and the ways they reach out to me.

First off, there's a public me. That's the person I am in public: at work, at events, and so on -- including any private aspects of my life that I choose to share publicly. I have a website and I have a few blogs that I publish ideas on. I post pictures to Flickr, etc. I connect with people publicly in two ways:

Pull: I put stuff on the web that people can find through search, that they can see if they go to my blogs, that they can link to from their blogs or point to from a tweet, and so on. This is public stuff but I just put it online and people who share my interests will probably find them in time, because they will at some point be searching for the same kinds of things that I find interesting. If I'm traveling for an event, sometimes I might tweet publicly that I am in town to see if anyone might want to connect. I have made some interesting new friends this way.

Push: Sometimes people want these public things pushed to them. For example someone subscribes to my blog and wants to see that stuff in their inbox. Or they join a Google Group so they can join a conversation on a particular topic. I'm doing this at the moment with a book I'm writing.

Secondly, there's a private me. That's the person I am in private, with close friends and family. I talk to them on the phone, I skype with them, meet face to face for coffee and so on. But I connect with people privately in a few different ways also:

Pull: My friends have my email address and my phone number. They have a sense of my preferences and when they can call me or what kinds of things I'm interested in getting by email, and so on. I have a favorite coffee shop so sometimes I check in on Foursquare to let my friends know I'm there. That's usually not something I choose to make public.

Push: I know I can call my friends or email them if I have something to talk about. I might send them photos by email, or a birthday note, or just call to say hi.

Now, about those circles...

Circles are working pretty well for the private stuff at the moment, which is why I made that part of the image green.

Pull works pretty well: My friends and family can find me if they want and connect with me. But they knew how to do that before. Push works really well: G+ is really good about giving me ways to share information with this or that circle of friends. And when I share something with a specific group, only they can see it.

Where circles fall down is the public stuff, which I've painted a cautionary yellow. If I want to post something publicly, so it can be easily findable by search, and that people can point to it and link to it, there is literally no way to do this without pushing it to all of my circles.

A public post is automatically pushed to everyone in your circles. So a post like this one, which I am really writing for anyone who's interested, ends up going to *everyone who has added me to their circles, no matter what circle that might be. So if my dad has added me to his family circle (which he has) he's going to see this post (which I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to see).

For G+ to really work for me, that public sharing piece needs to change. Here are a few thoughts about how that could happen:

Public pull:

1. Give me a way to post something publicly without pushing it to my streams. Maybe people who chose to "follow" me would be the only people who would see that by default.

2. Let me create a public circle that people can join if they want. Let me create a "maker-hacker" circle that my maker-hacker friends can join if they want to.

Public push:

1. Let me make a public post and only push it to my "maker-hacker" circle, for example. Why? Because I think they will be interested, and I want them to be able to share it with their friends who I may not know. And if they link to it, I do want anyone to be able to go there and comment.

2. Let me invite friends to that maker-hacker circle, the same way I might invite them to a Google group.

I think G+ will be rolling out groups pretty soon which would solve a lot of these issues.

What do you think? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
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