No, I haven’t figured it out. Neither has the rest of the world. Which means that now is a good time to write about it, while our impressions remain plastic.

  1. Famous people: The “Suggestions” list kept including them, and I kept adding them reflexively, because I follow some of them on Twitter. Then I stopped, because I follow some of them on Twitter. I particularly enjoyed declining the opportunity to add Jason Calacanis.

  2. Pictures: I publish the ones I really care about here on the blog. “Really care about” means thinking a bit and some time in Lightroom color-correcting, cropping, and so on. I don’t see any reason to change that part; I want stuff that I care about on my own piece of the Internet, not anybody else’s, even my employer’s.

    But for lightweight picture sharing, where I want to attach some words and maybe bring a smile to a few faces, G+ seems just the ticket. Consider The birds are no longer angry.

  3. Apologies are in order: There were people, both outsiders and insiders, who went on the record with statements about how “Google will never get social” or how the G+ approach was totally stupid. Eat them words. I’m not brave enough to predict how the G+ story is going to play out, but it’s an outstanding piece of design and engineering work; I tip my hat to the team.

  4. Circles: So far, I’ve mostly posted to the world, but I think I’m doing it wrong. I have this blog and Twitter for broadcasting purposes. So I’ve cooked up a few circles and I’ll make a point of trying to cut the “Public” posts to maybe just the picture sharing, and route the rest to one circle or another.

  5. Math math math: I’d rather not join the parade of people shouting for one new feature or another, because it seems to me that G+ as it stands hits a decent 80/20 point. Having said that, Circles are, mathematically speaking, sets, and I think set arithmetic would come in real handy: “Post this to the intersection of my Photogeeks circle and my Vancouver circle”. I can think of lots of other amusing permutations. The reason I bring this up is because I smile, envisioning a future in which math teachers use social-network constructs to explain Set Theory.

  6. At-Work+: Would a sandboxed internal version of something like G+ be useful where you work?

Lucky · Us, I mean; lucky to be alive just now, watching these big games play out. Billions of dollars are at stake but that’s a sideshow. We’re working out ways for the people of the future to talk with each other. There are lots of possible outcomes; the ones that seem likely to me look mostly pretty decent.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: BWJones (Jul 04 2011, at 20:16)

I would love to see sets, unions and more from graph theory. I've long been thinking what graph theory could bring to social networking and wonder what would happen if we started looking at the edges of graphs are got smart and started using clustering algorithms to find interesting n-dimensional patterns... Google is just the company to do this.


From: John Gordon (Jul 04 2011, at 21:48)

Will Google Reader be incorporated into G+? I've tried subscribing to Plus feeds and Reader can't handle them. Of course neither can Safari ...


From: Copolii (Jul 04 2011, at 22:07)

Personally I can't wait to find a better alternative to Facebook ... If I'm gonna share personal private information with the world through a company, I'd rather do it with a company that I trust ... not with Facebook.

So ... let me in, damn it! My Android & I come in peace!


From: Juha Autero (Jul 05 2011, at 01:21)

Using Google Reader after joining Google+ made me realize that I want to share things from where I encounter them. And writing this comment made me realize that even though posts I liked or shared in Google Reader don't seem to show up in Google+, I maybe can send them to Google+.

I have to look into Google+ APIs and if there aren't any, it's the feature I want to have next. I think eventually our social networks will integrate with our tools and we will be able to share photos, links and texts directly from where we are.


From: Cristiano (Jul 05 2011, at 01:33)

G+ start from the second lane, but if it runs at constant speed and counts on the fact that his opponents will make errors, he can win the race, maybe at last laps.


From: Richard Conroy (Jul 05 2011, at 02:41)

I jut got on Google+ in the last few days through a backdoor invite. Which means that my circles look an awful lot like my twitter lists ATM (twitter people tend to be resourceful about invite grabbing).

In other words I am not at a level where I can use Google+ properly until I at least invite my Girlfriend or my good friends.

That said, Facebook clone it isn't. I like the sharing options where things can go to your contacts that are not on Google+. The circle-anyone choice is brave, and the selective sharing options could be a killer feature.

For all of the size of Facebook, there is a lot of Facebook Fatigue. Like-Hell, a newsfeed filled with everyone's dross, and only 2 options for control: block, or allow all, means that a lot of people I know have tuned out of it completely, or check it rarely.

I can already see the potential in Google+ for doing non-web social networking. There seems to be a lot of potential for setting up mail lists, chat groups, or curated link feeds.

Will keep posted on this.


From: Bruce (Jul 05 2011, at 03:57)

I sent in feedback related to the math point. Among other things, the current "extended circles" sharing is opaque, since it's not clear what happens if you also add one-or-more named circles.

As for work, I'm in a higher ed, and could definitely see it being useful; particularly if a) it gets elegantly integrated with Docs, and b) it's open enough to be able to elegantly integrate with other systems (say an LMS like Sakai OAE).


From: Osvaldo Doederlein (Jul 05 2011, at 04:21)

I'm also craving for basic set operations; it would be interesting to explore the UI for that, as I don't think that something obvious from math textbooks, like Venn diagrams, will cut it. But I don't believe Google would/should push such a feature unto users (unless the UI is REALLY brilliant...), this is more likely a RFE for a user-installable extension (if and when G+ supports extensions - which I'm sure is just a matter of time); or maybe, for third-party clients.


From: Martin McCallion (Jul 05 2011, at 05:52)

+1 for the sandboxed work version. That would be very useful.

And I speak as someone who has not been invited to Google+ yet.


From: Dave Walker (Jul 05 2011, at 06:47)

*Love* the set theory idea. Who knows, it may get to the point of people describing collections of people (being careful not to use the word "group") in terms of cup and cap IRL :-).

Not on G+ yet, but very interested in having a look at the security and privacy policy; this is a make-or-break document, in that my reaction to FB's was "you've got to be bloody joking" and *not* signing up for an account as a result...


From: Chris Norton (Jul 05 2011, at 12:47)

An efficient subgraph isomorphism algorithm sure would come in handy about now.


From: Ben Shirley (Jul 05 2011, at 13:29)

Great post and some very good points in the comments here, liking the math circles thinking especially, venn diagrams for digital identities works for me very well. I thionk Circles may well be the feature that manages to find a common home for both personal and professional digital identities. Together but separate. Like others on here I'm also looking forward to being able to invite others as the user base is somewhat limited for now. I've posted some thoughts on my early Google+ experiences at

I'd be interested in ways others have found of working with platform. Personally I like it very much indeed so far.


From: Q (Jul 05 2011, at 14:14)

Where is a suggestions box? My following circle craves celebrities, but I have no suggestions.


From: Alex (Jul 05 2011, at 14:17)

I would love to have a better Facebook, with my personal information not held by a company I don't necessarily trust. However, even if you assume the answer is "a company I trust" (and not "no company"), I see no reason to believe that Google is that company.

With Buzz, Google essentially exposed email contact lists without warning. For all its faults, that's more than Facebook ever did to me.

Worse, Google (search) feels like infrastructure. I *like* that much of my personal information is held by a company that is not also running my infrastructure. That's a feature! I would also be worried if the post office decided to run a dating service, using the letters I sent.

I think Buzz was probably a lot closer to what I actually want: an open-source distributed network upon which anybody can build things. Unfortunately, they completely botched the roll-out, they tried introducing completely new user interface paradigms, and they never released enough code to let somebody run their own Buzz network (thus crippling one of its biggest features), so it was doomed from the start.

My biggest fear is that they threw the baby out with the bathwater, and will do everything possible to *not* botch the Google+ roll-out, but also make it completely proprietary and tightly bound to Google Search and every other service they have. In other words, exactly like Facebook.


From: Tachyon Feathertail (Jul 05 2011, at 14:42)

I don't mean to be facetious, but I'm pretty sure that everything else is a sideshow to the money.


From: Karan (Jul 05 2011, at 16:56)

A sandboxed version would be extremely useful just for the Hangout feature at my work - a multinational with offices spread across the country & globe. At-desk meetings rather than trying to get everyone into limited video conferencing spaces? yes please!


From: Peter Hesse (Jul 06 2011, at 03:54)

"Would a sandboxed internal version of something like G+ be useful where you work?"

Very useful, if done right. I work at a university.


- LDAP integration that recognizes classes/sections. We would be very happy to replace the social networking features of our LMS (discussions, chat, micro and full blogging, DOCUMENT SHARING) with something that works better, protects student privacy, and does not require manual group management. I think most organizations could make use of circles representing departments. Automated access control through LDAP (or another widely adopted protocol if there is/will be one) would create a great opening for expansion of Google Docs too.

- I can easily imagine us paying for this service if it were "clean": no advertising or Farmville


From: AC (Jul 06 2011, at 11:27)

You can say that again, EAT THEM WORDS!

Also enjoyed the remark about Mr. Calacanis. If Google+ would offer me the chance to abstain from following Jason, frequently and at regular intervals -- like maybe once every morning and twice on high holidays -- I'd gladly kick in a few bucks. Hell, if they promise to notify /him/ every time somebody ignores his feed, I bet Google could stop selling AdWords.


From: len (Jul 08 2011, at 17:38)

So far the conversations are still on FB. I recently pruned my FB friends list. No antagonism, simply losing the lurkers or people who only use my page to promote themselves without conversation. Would like to prune the Likes. Don't really need to know where Felicia Day eats sushi. IOW, if someone isn't actively conversing, that isn't a friend. I dropped some fairly famous folks. Again, no disrespect, simply that I consider FB to be a conversation medium, not a substitute for other media.

FB really isn't useful for work. It isn't a collaboration media despite the use of Share buttons. Can Google+ become that? Certainly the lists of lists (Circles) seems useful. Video chat seems useful. Incorporating other desktop functions, sure. I think this market will be won based on trust as most things network are. The invasiveness of games on FB hasn't been a plus. The ease with which viruses have been spread through FB haven't been a plus. The obscenely complicated security roles haven't been a plus.

So far Google hasn't shown me much except a rethinking of FB-lite. OTOH, that rethinking does emerge from addressing problems with FB-spewing on the page and that's a good start. It will draw me in when the conversations get interesting. As we noted coming from comp.sgml to xml-dev and so on, tribes tend to migrate en masse but sometimes the topics of conversations don't. XML-Dev is still XML-Dev and if the job I just interviewed for comes through, I may have to migrate back.

Aside: They use IADS and ArborText. Ha! Who would have believed these would have outlasted the Netscape browser and even the Space Shuttle.


From: Piers (Jul 13 2011, at 09:39)

I'm not sure I like the default circles - I prefer "schlemiel" and "schlimazel" and possibly "schmucks" - seems a more accurate way to designate the people with whom you intend to share life's rich pageant.


From: len (Jul 24 2011, at 10:29)

An additional note:

I'm working at one of those mil-std gigs where the Internet is heavily censored so we won't be having fun.

1. Facebook is blocked. Google Plus is not. It may be not on the list yet but so far it isn't. They classify FB as a "dating" site (that's what the firewall says, no lie). So maybe if people on Plus keep it all on the downlow it won't get blocked. :)

2. Some blogs are blocked. Some aren't. Your blog isn't nor is mine. Felicia Day and Arlo Guthrie's are. They are classified as entertainment. You and I aren't. :(

3. YouTube is blocked from every avenue.

The problems of classifications are topics thee and me have been round enough not to do that here. However, social network sites are evolving from "dating" to "how we organize social functions", think PTA, choir, hockey practice, etc. As you note they can/are being applied to business so blocking these will become more and more inconvenient. XML.COM was blocked for a while at a place I worked because the pages had to too many x's.

It will be interesting to see how these blocker services adapt to the fact of social networks where multiple kinds of information are threaded together. This is another ontogeny/phylogeny cycle where we get to see signals and signs similar to early cycles and watch the technologists and policy makers attempt not to make the same mistakes or make them anyway. In this case, social networks are replicating the early web days when the wide openness and variety of content forced some companies to block it all together. That is not feasible and I suspect at some point social networks have to self classify to co-evolve with the blocking software and company policies. The points of friction are always the most fun to watch and illuminating.


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