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Running in Circles: Will people use Google+ correctly? Um, yeah [OPINION]

July 5, 2011 | by Charles West

Google

Google Circles

When I first heard that Google was launching a fresh and new social networking experience, I kind of shrugged in the beginning, remembering the false promises of the past (Google Wave and Buzz). Google fans, you know how this usually works: we get excited only to be let down later by the latest revolutionary communication tool. Well, I can honestly say this time is different — like something out of a comic book — Google+ has emerged from the ashes ascending amongst us as a Phoenix ready to obliterate its enemies competition.

Google+ brings a refreshing simplicity to the social networking experience most of us have been waiting for seemingly forever. Does plus bring something dramatically different on a core functionality side? No; it’s still people sharing photos, links, and commenting. But what Plus does bring is its own social feature called “Circles,” a simple and undeniable feature that makes it easier to manage your social connections.

Circles has already grabbed some unjust criticism from TechCrunch’s MG Siegler. In the beginning of Siegler’s article, he mentions how intrigued he was by the new Google offering, stating “Overall, I find it pretty compelling so far.” Then like the optimistic Google writer he is [sarcasm], he quickly scoffed at the Circle idea. In a statement illustrating his pessimism, Siegler said, “Instead of creating a bunch of Circles, I foresee people simply shoving everyone into the default “Friends” or “Following” Circles and going about their business”. With only a short sample size of Google+, Siegler feels users will be more compelled to share thoughts (status updates) to the public verses individual circles. Since Facebook failed with “Groups,” getting users to create and use groups will be hard — according to Siegler. But my question is, doesn’t everything Facebook do come out complicated to a fault? Think Groups, notifications, Facebook email and everyones favorite, Privacy settings.

I find his statements absolutely fatuous because it is way too early in determining such a grim fate. Let’s be clear, I am in no way picking on MG Siegler, I just disagree with his overall premise that most of you will use Google+ incorrectly. Much like the other social networking sites — will some people use plus incorrectly? Sure. But I find it hard to believe that the vast majority will do the same. The problem with Facebook is that keeping certain things from certain people requires a lot of work. And aside from trying to keep co-workers from seeing your weekend party photos, you may want to say something that’s only relevant to a small circle of friends. Hence, the beauty of Circles.

Does this whole Circles thing strike a much bigger point at what Google is trying to attempt? I’d like to think so. The search giant isn’t stupid and they realize they’re last to hit this social networking craze. I honestly believe Goog came out with plus to attract the more advanced-user, in fact, Google is banking on those advanced users out there to better educate the more casual types thinking of transitioning to plus. It was a brilliant move to make it so that you have to add people to Circles in order to follow them, albeit, a tiny barrier to entry in terms of plunging straight in and using the service. Fact is, the tiny barrier does what its suppose to do — which is highlight the Circle idea.

The notion that people are too slow or stupid to effectively use something more made for “real-world” activity is mind boggling. If Google is truly late to the party why would they risk being like Twitter by pushing a fully public mentality? Remember, that’s what they tried with Buzz and failed miserably doing so. Instead, Google may actually have a niche with private group sharing — why not, the opening is there for the taking.

Whether people like it or not, we’re in a new era and that era is running Circles right now. Who cares if early adapters are (for the moment) sharing with the public, Google+ has been open for business on an invite basis for less than one week — give it some time. I have no doubt that the Plus Circles concept will get people hooked on specialized sharing with smaller networks. In no time we’ll be hearing people talk about how great their Circles are — creating the path to Google’s own doctrine.

What do you guys think? Do you think I’m way off base with my views on the aforementioned Google Plus? If so, please voice your opinions by showing some love in our comments section.