As a rhetorician, I believe that we can often obtain insight into what something is based on how we talk about it. Others agree somewhat: this ReadWriteWeb article, for instance, (http://www.readwriteweb.com/biz/2011/07/google-plus-for-businesses-brands.php), centers Google+ advice for businesses on three verbs: "identify," "videoconference," and "integrate." Others define Google+ by its nouns. notes that + is "an email service, blogging platform, micro-blogging site, news feed, video conferencing system, chat service, location-based social network and more." Definition by nouns can also be based on reference to other digital objects: for , + "means I don't have to rejoin Facebook, use LinkedIn or Quora or Flickr (any more than I have to), or dive into Tumblr" (https://plus.google.com/106697379087705183224/posts/46iKbuqVCL1). Rather than focus on verbs or nouns, I propose we evaluate social networks by the prepositions they activate.
Facebook - on, at
Let's start with Facebook. Facebook, like Myspace before it, is fundamentally a collection of digital places, because everything is posted some_where_. These places are imaged as vertical boards ("walls"), so the dominant preposition is on. I post on your wall, you post on my wall. My wall may refer to my post: "Will Penman posted a link on 's wall," but that's only a reference--the actual post is on Smitty's wall, and if anyone wants to comment, they have to go there. A strong implementation of place-fulness is Facebook's primary privacy mechanism. To see something, you have to be where it is. I don't know who will see my post on a friend's wall, but in general, I'm not concerned, because it is only people who have decided to be at his or her page.
Twitter- from, toward
Twitter's minimalism comes from specializing in from. This tweet is from me; that tweet is from you from from . Twitter's physical reference point is a stream, where water flows. A stream is defined by its continuous movement of visually similar content, not by its location. Twitter doesn't activate on or at. This can be disorienting for Facebook users because on Facebook, "_on_ someone's wall" approximates "_to_ that person." For these disconnected users, Twitter without on seems self-indulgent and useless. Its from feels like nothing more than "by." Twitter enables tweets to be toward someone through @ mentions. (Notice I don't say "to"--there is no network-wide expectation that the recipient will receive the tweet, which celebrities use to maintain their Twitter fan base by sporadically granting some @ mentions retweets or replies.) Privacy of exposure is not well-developed on Twitter (though privacy of comprehension is independent--see work by on teen strategies for establishing privacy online).
I speak in broad strokes which could obviously be applied on a much smaller scale. Facebook's news feed, for instance, is a stream, challenging its own sense of place. It has the effect of having encouraged people to build a large, well-kept neighborhood and then insisting on having tour buses drive through every day in an effort to increase connectivity. But we have covered enough to be able to discuss Google+.
Google+- toward, with, nearby, for
Google+ is a social network based on the preposition toward. It is not currently placeful--+'s deceptively Facebook-like profile appearance is no more than a thin stream with relatively static information to inform from--which is to say that posts are not "there" any more than they are "here" in your main stream. + doesn't enable at or on like Facebook, nor does it hoard from like Twitter. Rather, all posts begin as being toward no one, and much of the effort of posting is determining who it should be towards. Circles are easy and fun to make (as notes, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/the-strangely-compelling-game-mechanic-powering-google/241595/). Facebook doesn't enable toward very well. Frequently posting links and updates on your own wall is seen as tending toward being attention-hungry, self-centered, or unpopular, because it presumes that people are interested and, to the extent that your content dominates, shows that people are not interested.
Google+ also firmly establishes with through Hangouts. I have never been more with someone watching a YouTube video than on Hangouts, where the video is synchronized, I have full view of the screen, and there is a walky-talky interruption device to talk over it. Before with in a Hangout comes accessibility, enabling a preposition that AIM and every other chat service provide: nearby. Now that Facebook has packaged Skype into their chat, being nearby someone on Facebook and on Google+ are fairly well-matched for individuals, with + heavily more capable for groups, since I can be nearby multiple people for group video chat. By connecting with email and other Google applications, + enables being nearby people in those ways without even leaving the site.
Sparks, I should add, seems to venture toward better enabling for. Facebook relies on a complicated algorithm to provide content in your news feed that is for you; Twitter allows subscriptions manually, with a light recommendation system so posts will be well-suited for you; + has yet to unleash its algorithm prowess in determining what is for you, but Sparks is the realization that in the end, content on the web is generally written by people, and interest in people can be similar to interest in people's things: hence a magic (nontransparent) algorithm to provide web objects for you.
How do we assess Google+? Charting disparate features among social networks easily leads to entanglement and hyperbole. But developing a rubric based on prepositions, special linguistic markers of relationship, helpfully simplifies the task.
Facebook uses a location-based content model, which provides no-effort maintenance of social networks. Dependence on people being only where everyone wants them to be, however, is unsatisfactory, as it results in an inability to address unwanted activity, especially from family, potential employers, and loose acquaintances, as well as a creation of contradictory expectations, in that a person is often welcome to view some things, but not others. Facebook has addressed this through friend lists, which are unwieldy to create/maintain and unpleasant to use, in that they are employed to exclude people. Moreover, Facebook has exacerbated the problem by cultivating the news feed, a stream of posts meant to take you to pages you might not normally see, and by increasing the default visibility of posts. Facebook's success depends on users' willingness to regularly seek out their friends (where Google+'s success depends on users' willingness to regularly define their friends). We can take little comfort in Facebook's approach given their gradual abandonment of their own location-based system (streams, widening privacy defaults, even the home page meaning that you aren't normally at your own page) and the populace's vague sense of discontent.
Google+ is a new kind of social sharing site based on addressing content toward a person or group. It encourages being digitally near people and advances technology for being with people online. It also has the potential to provide an unprecedented degree of meaningful content for users. Well-equipped with from, Google+ encapsulates Twitter's ability to provide social communication, but the posts' default ability to be commented on and their unpredictable length and content may make + too heavyweight for some Twitter users. By emphasizing sharing toward people, Google+ obviates privacy concerns at the expense of demanding constant maintenance and application of social circles. Nested circles, circle revision histories, and circle suggestions will lower this cost. In addition, many people's experience with Facebook has trained them how to identify circles (through Facebook's lack) and provided the motivation to do so--avoiding demonstrable embarrassing situations. By focusing on communicating toward people online, Google+ has the potential to revolutionize our sharing habits and reinvigorate the pleasure we get from online social sharing.
I'm Mark Striebeck - Engineering Manager for Gmail frontend. As you can imagine, we are working on several Gmail / Google+ integrations. But similar to some of my Google colleagues, I want to use the creativity and momentum here for some larger brainstorming in a Hangout on Tuesday, July 12 at 3pm (PDT).
I'm pretty sure that all of you use some email client - many probably Gmail. But regardless of the client:
- What email features would make it easier to interact with Google+?
- How could we integrate Google+ features into Gmail?
- How can we integrate social concepts in Gmail to make the email experience itself better?
If you have some interesting ideas, let me know if you want to join me at the hangout and/or write and discuss them in this doc ( please let me know if you want to contribute, and I'll give you access!!! ): https://docs.google.com/document/d/118_mtbmqPN2Xsh3Ufh2ri8E_JjS9VqKfpCU3yGsGQrM/edit?hl=en_US
- Bar-Ilan UniversityProgram Coordinator - Int'l B.A. Programs, 2012 - present
- Matzav Center for Basic NeedsProject Manager, 2010 - 2012
- Bar-Ilan University - External Relations DivisionAdministrative Assistant, 2010 - 2012
- Post Entry Services Company
- B.I.G. Jewelry
- Lev EchadChief Logistics Coordinator, 2009 - 2010
- Bar-Ilan UniversityLogistics and Management, 2009 - present
- Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah2008 - 2009
- Bar-Ilan UniversityMechina Program, 2007 - 2008
- Middlesex County CollegeComputer Science Transfer, 2006 - 2007
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