It’s fascinating watching the Social Media anoraks as they leap on top of any new toy and play with it like over-excited dogs with a brand new bone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being negative about them, but smiling as I watch them force Google+ into their lives and then wonder how they ever lived without it.
The beauty of their gusto is that they come up with and then aggregate ideas and ways of using things that even the original designers, coders, engineers, or whatever, hadn’t thought of. Nowhere has this appeared more with regard to Google+ than with their suggestions for how to use ‘Circles’.
Those only used to Facebook or a very flat one-size-fits-all type of social media, won’t suss out what ‘Circles’ actually are. In fact, newbies struggling with Google+ and trying to understand the whole ‘Circles’ thing won’t realise that the ‘Circles’ are one of the most useful parts!
Not only can people be in more than one ‘Circle’, but also ‘Circles’ can be cleverly used in order to do many other things.
The original concept is that a ‘Circle’ is a ‘circle’ of friends. So, you might have a ‘circle’ just for Family, another for people you work with, another for people you regular go out with, and another for people you knew years ago and are now less part of your real life. You pop the person into as many of the ‘Circles’ as are relevant to them and their relationship with you. For example, a member of your Family ‘Circle’ may also be in your going out ‘Circle’, and so on.
Then, just like in real life, you can have conversations that are only seen by others in a particular ‘Circle’. Yep, “I hate my job, the boss is a tosser,” no longer gets seen by those in your, say, ‘Work Circle’. Unlike with Facebook, there’s now no chance of your boss seeing that and handing you your P45!
As you go about your day, either writing stuff yourself to ‘share’ on Google+ or deciding to ‘share’ other things you’ve read, photos you’ve seen, videos you’ve watched, you can either put these in view of anybody (the Public) or restrict them to those in one or more relevant ‘Circles’. You can even share stuff or have conversations one-to-one, and so do away with the need for email communication.
So, organising your contacts into different ‘Circles’, just like in real life, is only the beginning. The Social Media anoraks have come up with even more ideas. For example, you can have a ‘Circle’ only containing yourself which can hold ‘Drafts’ you are working on, or another one to quickly plonk shares into of things you want to read later but don’t necessarily want to share with your friends, and so on.
These are just some of the ideas that have collected themselves together within an open collaborative document (here) written by over 120 different early Google+ adopters.
I guess this is how Wikis are supposed to be, but it certainly shows how more and more we all connect together and can agree at consensus and contribute to a central single knowledge entity when we want to. And that’s something we couldn’t have ever done before in human history until about 20 years ago. These days we don’t have to be part of a specialist think tank restricted to members of Oxbridge, sitting together to spout out ideas, only allowing those ideas to come from an elite few. Now anybody can be part of the process.
More importantly, with Google+ and its ‘Circles’, this kind of thing just got a million times easier, faster and better.