I don’t think the Circles feature of Google+ deserves the praise it’s getting. The circles themselves are gimmicky and lack utility. It’s good that Google is making privacy a selling point of G+, but I think that’s where the praise for circles should end.
You can’t organise the circles. You can’t reorder them, prioritise them, nest them, describe them, colour code them.
They are impractical. My friends within circles are only displayed as tiny circular icons, and even then I can only see thirteen. To do anything useful with these contacts, I have to bring them up into a grid view.
This grid view is the real interface. The circles are purely a novelty UI – a marketing gimmick. They are simply styled lists that make the process of organising your G+ contacts prettier, but more difficult.
Here’s the real problem Google+ Circles are trying to solve:
Our real social networks are complicated. Our contacts overlap. They are important to different degrees and for different reasons. Many are not friends at all. We may not want a ‘close’ family member to have our telephone number, for example, but we may want a complete stranger at an online retail store to have it.
And here is Google’s solution:
Buckets! As many as you like.
- Original rotary telephone picture by postbear on Flickr.
- Big social diagram was basically copied from the slides of Paul Adam’s talk ‘The Real Life Social Network’.
- Paul Adams (who worked on G+ before defecting to Facebook) shares some generalised thoughts on Circles: This is just the beginning – thinkoutsidein.com
- Google+ and Privacy: A Roundup