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Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze?

Paul Adams — who worked at Google and now is at Facebook — wonders if the effort involved in managing and maintaining Google+ Circles is worth it:

Paul Adams, This Is Just The Beginning

Most user experience problems can be defined with the simple equation: Is the effort I need to go through worth the perceived benefit? Is the effort of creating circles, and managing them over time, worth the perceived benefit of sharing to those circles? Is the effort of figuring out who is in the audience of someone else’s circle worth the perceived benefit of the value derived from commenting?

I am not a fan of Twitter lists, for example, but others use them productively to subset their Twitter experience. So I suppose the same logic will hold with Circles: if you are trying to partition your social experience into separate fragments within a large general purpose tool, Circles may hold some promise for you.

But because the folks you add to your Circles are not in on the taxonomy you are using, there is no shared context: it’s not a little cocktail party where all the guests are aware they’ve been invited, and know who the others are. It’s a one-sided filter, and so no shared context or conversation can arise. Circles are like cutting out pieces of books by different authors, pasting them together, and pretending it happened at a salon.

I think Circles might be helpful on a different level. Imagine if I could use Circles as insta-context for other tools, though. If I could create a Hangout limited to Social Tools Maniacs, for example, or a Huddle involving Big Thinkers (as defined by me). Then the point of a Circle would become evident operationally to the circle of people invited, and the object and context of the discussion becomes shared.

Until tools can use Circles, I think they are just a filtering device: useful for some, but pedestrian.

Fooling With (Google+): What Does ‘Share’ Mean?

I got invited to the beta (I begged my way in and Bradley Horowitz caved).

I am calling it ‘’ because that’s the URL, and avoids the problems with searching for a name with a plus sign in it.

It’s too early for more definitive thoughts, but here’s something I posted there:

'Share' in doesn't have the same semantics as in the outside world, where it leads to a list of services. I guess there is no integration with Instapaper, Tumblr, Twitter? We are confronted with a gigantic system, where things can be shared among its parts, but not externally? (Ditto on pushing stuff into

Someone may tell me that is in test phase, that those features will come later, etc.

But operating in the context of my existing flows will be the only true test for me.

This sort of experiment might be good for people to compare to another world-straddling social network — Facebook — that has attempted to do everything, but it isn’t for me, because I don’t rely on Facebook.

So I see the ‘share’ shift of meaning as indicative. is intended as a Facebook killer, but I have already defected from Facebook and I don’t believe in a single, monolithic, all-encompassing social world in the hands of one bunch of overlords, however benevolent.

I also think that the real angle for Google isn’t his giant social Disneyland they have constructed, but the primitives that underlie it, and the way that those will be built into Android, so that other app developers can take advantage of them.

Imagine how much more interesting this would have been if five partners had built social apps that were accessible on right now. Imagine if Instagram or a With were integrated?

And the rift between iOS and Android pops up in here even at this early date: I can’t upload photos from my iPhone because Google decided not to put that functionality out, yet, or ever.

So the apparent competition with Facebook may turn out to be the big florid opening act, while the long term war is with Apple over the social operating system of the near future.

So, instead of clicking the ‘share’ button and posting this to Tumblr, I will cut and paste from the closed world — at least currently — of

More to follow.

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