“Quality over quantity” or “why I like Google+ Circles”

The web is ablaze with Google+ gossip, and everyone is quick to jump aboard the new social media revolution from the world’s leading search engine/portal/mapper/web dev magic shop.  So why should this blog be any different?  I’ll wade right on in there too.

First off, for those wondering “what is Google+?” I suggest y read the following:

  1. What Google wants you to know – Take the tour of the Google+ project
  2. What XKCD and most geeks (including this author) thought – XKCD Google+

So now you know what it is in broad terms.  You’ve also noticed this is the “Google+ project” and not the “Google+ product”, and that seems to be because Google does not intend to replace FaceBook with a different social networking platform.  Instead they want to continue to evolve their products to work closely together and infiltrate your entire browsing experience.  On the one hand this sounds brilliant, a creative light in web technologies striving to make the interwebs better for everyone… however, the realist (or cynical IT worker) in me also sees this as a potential invasion of privacy, and another attempt by Google to not just help you enjoy the web, but actually monitor and control how you interact and communicate with the digital world.

For me though the experience so far has been quietly enjoyable.  The integration with other Google products I use is relatively painless, and worryingly intuitive.  The overall experience is uncluttered, with clean white space, with subtle animations and hints of colour guiding your around the interface.

The big win for me though has been the “circles” concept.  This is a visual way of grouping your friends into multiple circles, allowing you to rapidly and easily communicate with only select groups of people, or with everybody you know, or even the whole world.  FaceBook attempted this with lists, but the interface was rudimentary, and the publish method was neither user friendly or easily maintained.  Circles for now seems easy to understand and the drag and drop interface makes management of groups of friends quick and easy.  Will it continue to grow as more users come online and everybody’s circles grow?  I’m not sure, but for now it is a clear advantage that Google+ has over FB and other social networks.

So why quality over quantity, well aside from the annoying bugs that one expects in early code they haven’t bloated the product with features.  Google hasn’t tried to out-FaceBook FaceBook, they’ve looked at a few key social interactions, and how people could expand those interactions on the internet, and have run with that idea.  I don’t think it is a FaceBook killer, but it has definitely introduced some new ideas both technically and design-wise into the marketplace.

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