So I got a Google+ invitation today. Admittedly I am not a big social network user (not even close) but I was definitely interested to see the differences between Google+ and Facebook. People have talked about ‘circles’ in the media a lot, and they certainly are an excellent feature but they were not top of my thoughts. Far more than circles I think the key difference between Google+ and Facebook is the fact that I don’t need your permission to add you to one of my circles. Admittedly unless you share a lot of items with ‘public’ this doesn’t do me much good but conceptually it just feels so much nicer… and there is something to be said for conceptual nicety.
There are definitely a few niggles – for example you can secure your links section on your profile, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to customize it on a per-link basis. Currently I only have one link, so that is hardly an issue, but I could see it being significant to some people. Another case which I think is probably much more interesting is the ‘people who are in my circles’ list on your profile. You can select which circles to include, and you can select which circles can see it at all, but I could see a strong case for options like ‘anyone who is in a circle can see who else is in that circle, but not other circles’ or even much deeper customization.
It would probably be nice to define circles using other circles. So if there is a couple of circles that I frequently want to share with, I could create a ‘union’ circle, when either dependent circle updates, the union circle membership would update automatically, reducing my mistakes. Similarly, an except circle like ‘all my friends except …’ again, reducing mistakes. Then again, I currently only have 1 person in my circles…
I would be interested to see whether Google+ ends up with a strong integration with the existing multiple accounts feature of Google – I definitely see that as being a potential win for people with ‘Gamer Identities’ among other scenarios. I would test it, but somehow I think that sending an invite to yourself is not the intention!