I've been using Google+ a lot the last few days, and I like it--especially the circles idea that lets me put people I might want to address into specific groups.
Circles are a lot more nuanced than the all-or-nothing broadcast technology I'm used to with Facebook and Twitter. But unless Google figures a way to fix one particular shortcoming, circles don't fix a problem I've had for years: the social networking tension between personal and professional use.
Here it is, in brief: I want to offer public commentary on the tech world through Google+, but I don't want my ceaseless techno-talk to clog friends' and family's Google+ streams.
It was for this reason that last year I unplugged my Twitter stream from Facebook and this year set up my separate professional Facebook page.
I'm willing to cut Google, Twitter, and everybody else with an online service some slack here. It's genuinely hard to create a product that can withstand the duality of people's different roles. Most of us have grown accustomed to having separate home and work e-mail addresses, for example. Facebook offers an ability to run linked personal and professional personas.
I'd hoped that Google, which explicitly boasts about Google+'s ability to handle social networking with both your boss and your family, would have handled the situation better. So far I think it's got the best start, at least, with circles.
Circles let me specify a certain audience to receive a message, which is great for a targeted note to coworkers, close friends, or people who live nearby. But my targeted messages--about my weekend family trip, say--are very different than my public messages about subjects such as Web browsers.
The only sensible way to handle the work-related messages is to post them publicly. I want people to read them, after all, and I certainly don't have time to manage some constantly expanding circle of people I presumed would be interested.
If they're public messages, though, I would be burdening my family and friends with the controversy of WebGL security when all they wanted to hear about was the adventure with the inebriated hooligan in Dover. … Read more