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.
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