I am excited on many levels to see Google release Google+. First, it was about time that Facebook faced some head on competition. If nothing else it will make Facebook better. Competition is a healthy thing. Second, I like the idea of trying a different cut on how to organize people and relationships. We have had friends and followers, groups and lists, and now we have circles (incidentally, Etsy has had circles for a while).
There are two important issues that I am really curious about when it comes to circles.
Circles is apparently a super easy drag and drop interface (despite an invite, I am not in yet so relying on the descriptions of others). Nonetheless, Google+ still separates the creation of relationships (circles) from specific services. It will be interesting to see if that’s how people want to organize relationships as opposed to picking relationships within specific services (eg people I want to share my location with on foursquare, people who I want to shop with on Etsy, etc).
Second, I am curious about what kind of privacy expectations emerge around circles. Google is promoting these with the following language (from the Google+ site):
The easiest way to share some things with college buddies, others with your parents, and almost nothing with your boss.
In other words, Google suggests that circles will allow people to share with a higher degree of control over “reach.” Since circles don’t have a “friends of friends” problem that seems reasonable at some level, but might also wind up being misleading on another. We have a fairly clear convention around one-to-one messaging (e.g., email, Twitter DM, SMS): assumed private (although a service like Bnter runs against that). The public broadcast model of Twitter and Tumblr is also easy to understand. But what should my privacy expectation be if I share something with a circle of “college buddies”?
To be clear, I am not suggesting hat Circles can’t or won’t work. Simply that those are the two issues with regard to circles that I am most curious about because they have tremendous implications for all services with a social component (meaning: all services). Now I can’t wait to actually get into Google+ so that I can experience circles for myself.