I think that a recent article in PC magazine makes an interesting point about Google+, the new social web app from Google. One of the new features is the ability to group your friends in to what’s called “circles”.
Among all the interesting features of Google+, one of the most heavily touted is Google Circles. Circles are what Google calls the various groups that you can organize your friends into. Once you've got them set up and populated, you then can pick which circles get to see the stuff you share. Your thumbs-down review of the latest episode of Glee? Probably just your friends. A chat about the company picnic? Work colleagues only for that one. Pics of your three-year-old niece? Strictly family. You get the idea. This YouTube video explains further: Although Google holds it up as a differentiator, Facebook actually has a similar feature that lets you pile friends together in specific buckets—although, importantly, the "share only with these guys" isn't nearly as convenient. Google+, however, puts Circles front and center, playing up the premise that you don't want to share everything with everyone. And that idea is certainly true, but Google Circles is still the most misguided feature of the new social network. The main problem with Google Circles is that it's tedious.
It’s so tedious to do, with Facebook, that I’m sure many users don’t even know that they have the ability to control who sees what. It’s an important feature, and it needs to be simple.
Offline, if I want to hang out with sports fans, I go to the sports pub. When I want to talk about books and literature, I go to a reading. It’s easy to move around among various circles.
Online, I’m expected, by default, to say everything I say to everyone I know, reardless of why I know them, whether they’re interested, etc. That’s no good, and somebody should fix it, and fix it well.
If this article is still to be believed, we’ll have to wait for a feature like that. This new one isn’t any easier, either.